It was blood and thunder stuff, with Chelsea picking up the lion's share of the cautions for their poor sportsmanship and general whingeing. The team seem to feel that they have a divine right to take every decision going and that anything that goes against them is a great injustice. But in truth, even though they took the lead on the half hour from a fine strike by Makelele, they were outplayed and at times out-passed by a Tottenham team, who were definitely up for it. Without seeming to be sitting on the fence, there was not one player who did not contribute to the victory today.
When Hossam Ghaly ran at the backing off Chelsea defence early on, things looked promising but his shot was scuffed and was easy for Hilario to hold, but this was a false dawn, as Chelsea started to take a grip on the game. Frank Lampost fired a shot high and wide, just before he went through Chimbonda from behind and got little more than a talking to from referee Poll. It was a real surprise that the Spurs right back was able to continue, let alone finish the game.
The Spurs defence were managing to get in the way of most efforts from the visitors, with Dawson doing his last ditch blocking to great effect, with Ledley King also throwing himself in the way of anything that looked like it might be on target. The Spurs captain was much more skilled in his intervention to deny Robben after 14 minutes. A long ball over the top found the Dutchman in a suspiciously offside position, but the lineman kept his flag down and as he ran in on Robinson, it looked like he would give Chelsea the lead, but he had not accounted for Ledley's lightning pace that got him back to take the ball off his toe, just as he was about to shoot. However, cruelly from the resulting corner, the ball was cleared to the edge of the area and Claude Makalele hit a fine shot to the bouncing ball and left Robinson grasping thin air, as the ball hit the corner of the net.
This started a period of play when the Blues could have run away with the game, but a fine save from Robinson to Ballack's curling free-kick after Dawson had handballed kept them out once and then when Robben and the German midfielder linked on the right wing, Lampost's shot was brilliantly tipped over the top from 12 yards by ENO.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto added to his good recent form with an all-round impressive display and his tackle on the box to stop Drogba kept the score at 1-0 and later denied Ballack in similar style. Spurs did manage to break up the other end, when Berbatov was released down the left and was unceremoniously bundled over by Ferreira, picking up a yellow card for his troubles. Jermaine Jeans played the ball in with a bit of pace and it was met by Michael Dawson's glancing header that took it out of Hilario's reach and netted the equaliser for Spurs.
The game was tied up, but became quite open, with Ballack hitting a shot well over and Berbatov dribbling into the area and hitting a low shot that the Chelsea keeper pushed aside. Getting onto the corner, Dimitar and Dawson both went for the ball and as it dropped in a melee, the ball was blocked onto the post and out for a corner by the goalie and a defender. When it looked like Spurs were in the driving seat, Chelsea hit back and Drogba showed what he can do when he is not falling all over the floor, as he took a free-kick on his chest and held off Dawson well to put an overhead kick narrowly wide of the past with Robbo struggling to get there.
Spurs might have gone in at half-time ahead if Dawson had got a little more on Jenas' free-kick from the right, but it flashed across the face of goal instead.
Ferreira had a hard time against Lennon in the first half, so was replaced by Boulharouz at the interval. However, seven minutes in, Robbie Keane picked up a ball out of defence on the halfway line and looked as if he had little support, so went on a solo run up the line. As Boulharouz backed off him, Robbie's footwork bamboozled the Dutch defender and left him on his backside, giving him the time to measure his ball across goal. The ball came to Aaron Lennon at the far post and with a deft touch from his right boot (yellow ones on show for the first time !!), he manoeuvred the ball onto his left to hit a shot past Hilario to make it 2-1 to Tottenham.
The game turned on this goal. It became a bit ragged and there were bookings for Ghaly's arm across Essien (which Mourniho thought deserved a red), Terry's desperate foul on Berbatov from behind and Ballack for pushing Ghaly over with two hands on his chest. Chelsea also tried to change the course of the game by bringing on Wright-Phillips for Makelele and the hapless Bhoularouz was replaced by the forward Kalou. It didn't stop Keane going at Boulharouz again and pulling a ball back to Berbatov, who was stretching to make a decent contact and could not get power behind hid effort.
While Chelsea got more possession, they failed to really test Spurs that often and their frustration showed when Terry went for a free-kick with King and getting up from the floor, the Chelsea captain obviously said something that prompted an angry response from many of the Spurs players. Chimbonda, Zokora and King were all keen to get at him, with Robinson and Drogba trying to keep them off, while Essien took the opportunity to put his hand in Pascal's face. After the face-off abated, Poll called Terry over, even though he had tried to hide behind the big boys to avoid taking his punishment and was shown a second yellow and a red card. He is an odious character, who, in my opinion, is rapidly becoming the new Tony Adams.
After that Spurs had a few attacks on the break, as they tried to soak up the Chelsea pressure. Berbatov volleyed way wide from Jenas' corner and later on Defoe ran through onto Ghaly's pass, but could not keep control as he approached Hilario.
As for Chelsea, Robbo dived to push aside a shot from Kalou as Ghaly got caught in possession on the edge of the Spurs box, King's challenge caused Lampost to fire over the bar and then Robben curled a shot from outside the right corner of the area to strike the upright and the ball bounced out and away. At the end, it was Tottenham pushing onto the ten men of Chelsea and the whistle came as a relief, but not a huge relief, as it was a game you didn't want to end. Not just because Spurs were winning, but it was a fascinating mixture of styles and approaches that made for a great spectacle.
Now in the top half of the table, this result should inspire Spurs to push on and upwards both in the league and the cup competitions.