Chelsea damage Spurs title challenge as Sarri drops Kepa
Chelsea cast aside the air of crisis surrounding the club and manager Maurizio Sarri with a thoroughly deserved win over Tottenham at Stamford Bridge.
Sarri dropped goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga following his refusal to be substituted in Sunday’s Carabao Cup final defeat by Manchester City, re-asserting his authority and ensuring speculation about his future will be lifted, for now at least, after this excellent performance and victory.
Tottenham’s title hopes, already dented by defeat at Burnley on Saturday, are now surely over and they must focus on what is an increasingly competitive fight for a top-four place.
Gonzalo Higuain hit the woodwork for Chelsea and Harry Winks had similar misfortune in the first half but Sarri’s side saw their endeavour rewarded when Pedro’s wriggling run ended with a shot between Hugo Lloris’ legs at his near post after 57 minutes.
Harry Kane wasted a good chance to level for Spurs but this damaging loss was sealed in calamitous fashion when Kieran Trippier turned Olivier Giroud’s flick past Lloris into his own net with six minutes left.
This was a vital night for Sarri after Kepa’s insubordination so this was a victory of huge significance for the Italian on a night when the keeper’s replacement Willy Caballero was barely troubled.