Premier League leaders Chelsea extended their unbeaten start to the 2014-15 season with a comfortable win over London rivals Tottenham on Wednesday night, running out 3-0 victors.
Goals from Eden Hazard, Didier Drogba and substitute Loïc Rémy confirmed victory for the West London hosts, continuing Spurs’ torrid run at Stamford Bridge.
The result means the Blues have a six-point lead at the top of the table, while Mauricio Pochettino’s men are stranded in tenth place, five points adrift of the top four.
Here are five observations from the game.
Harry Kane a key player for Tottenham
Following the world-record sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid last summer, Tottenham splashed the cash in bringing a host of big-money foreign signings to White Hart Lane.
Most of these additions have struggled to settle at the North London club and it seems oddly ironic that youth product Harry Kane now seems like the most dangerous attacking weapon at Spurs’ disposal.
The young English forward put in an industrious display last night, held the ball up well and was unlucky not to give his side the lead with an athletic header in the opening exchanges.
Roy Hodgson will have taken note of Kane’s positive start to the new season, while at club level the forward now seems like a player that must be in Pochettino’s first-choice starting XI.
Chelsea just as dangerous without Diego Costa
José Mourinho’s lack of potent striking options last season were well-publicised and the reason that the West London side ended the campaign without winning silverware.
A summer revamp, including the signing of former Atlético Madrid marksman Diego Costa has remedied these issues, with the Spain international already proving himself as one of the most lethal and effective centre forwards in the global game.
However, with Drogba and Rémy both getting on the scoresheet last night, the Blues are clearly a more dangerous attacking side this term and have real strength in depth.
Mourinho will be pleased that Chelsea scored three goals in Costa’s absence and will have more faith in this season’s striking back-ups than he did in Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto’o last term.
Central midfields indicate the level of each side’s development
The hosts fielded Nemanja Matić and Cesc Fàbregas in the heart of their side; arguably the division’s most accomplished midfield pairing and world-class stars at the top of their game.
Spurs on the other hand had youth-team graduates Nabil Bentaleb and Ryan Mason in front of their defence.
Although the young duo are full of energy, talent and potential, they need time to develop into a pairing that can thrust Spurs into the top four.
Tottenham as a team are similar; a developing side that needs time to reach its potential. Pochettino must be granted patience for Bentaleb, Mason and Spurs to be the finished product.
Chelsea on the other hand have recruited top-grade players and as such will take some stopping this season.
Big questions remain over Spurs’ defensive personnel
Tottenham still have big questions in their back four to address, with the side still looking uncomfortable and unstable in their rearguard.
The usually assured Jan Vertonghen has been reinstated to his favourite centre-half role but seems to have lost a lot of confidence, with the players around him not helping.
Federico Fazio has a lot of work to do to convince the White Hart Lane faithful that he is an upgrade on former captain Michael Dawson, while Younes Kaboul’s calamitous figure has rightly been relegated to the bench.
Despite left-back remaining a problem area, perhaps the most serial offender however is Vlad Chiricheș.
Admittedly the Romanian was playing out of position last night at right-back, but his positional naivety and risk-taking while in possession suggest that Chiricheș is nowhere near the standard needed in a side with top four ambitions.
Tottenham have positives to take from the game
Last season a 4-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge was the beginning of the end of Tim Sherwood’s reign as stop-gap Tottenham manager.
From the outside a 3-0 reverse this time round looks equally as damaging to Spurs’ hopes, but the performance and attitude last night was markedly improved on the corresponding fixture last term.
After falling 2-0 behind in quick succession there was an ominous feeling that a drubbing could be on the cards, but Tottenham fronted up and continued to be brave on the ball.
Uncharacteristic errors from Hugo Lloris put the visitors on the back foot, but it could have been so different had early Tottenham chances been taken.
Although the longstanding record of not winning at Chelsea continues for Spurs, the overall feeling from the game should be that Pochettino’s methods are starting to take hold and that there are positives from the game, despite the score.