Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Oliver Skipp strike to pile pressure on Chelsea manager Graham Potter
If a Chelsea manager has desperately needed a result in recent years, a trip to Tottenham usually did the trick. Not for Graham Potter, though, and not for this Chelsea team. Instead, they became the latest victims of second-half Spurs, as Oliver Skipp scored his first Tottenham goal 11 seconds after the restart, before Harry Kane sealed a first Premier League win against their London rivals since 2018.
Skipp’s strike was Tottenham’s first goal against Chelsea in their new stadium and it only goes to deepen the crisis facing Potter as his winless run extends to six matches. Chelsea’s relegation form continues with back-to-back defeats, while their muddled and confused attack has now gone three games without scoring. Potter was not helped by his team here, but his own struggles to stop Chelsea’s slide were summed up by the sight of Mykhailo Mudryk and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang preparing to come on as Kane wrapped up their victory in the 82nd minute.
It was too little, too late from Potter, as Chelsea’s miserable run plunges to a new depth. Tottenham’s progress is suddenly serene by comparison. With another victory under the belt of Cristian Stellini, who again stood in for Antonio Conte, Spurs have moved four points clear of Newcastle in the race for fourth place. The hosts rather played Chelsea here, emphasised by Skipp as he underlined Tottenham’s recent trend of only playing after half time with a stunning goal.
Chelsea contributed to it: Enzo Fernandez did not need to hack away a clearance ahead of Kepa Arrizabalaga, Joao Felix was slow to react as Skipp beat him to the ball on the edge of the box. Potter is not responsible for that - but Chelsea again followed a familiar pattern. A bright start, although without ever looking like scoring, fizzled out, and the changes from there failed to make an impact when they eventually arrived. The majority of Chelsea’s fans in the away end left early. Anger towards Potter has spilled over appallingly this week, but there was distinct apathy by the end.
By that point, it felt like a long time since Chelsea had started well on their usually happy hunting ground, controlling possession and forcing Tottenham to feed off scraps on the counter-attack. But has a team ever looked like they need a goal more than this Chelsea side? The visitors were initially sharp and clever, but without threatening Fraser Forster. Felix was heavily involved but couldn’t get on the end of Fernandez’s clipped ball, before sending a drive straight at the Tottenham goalkeeper in the opening stages.
Potter’s side looked better than Tottenham in flashes, but Chelsea have the feel of a side whose confidence within games is forever teetering on the brink. Losing their standout player of the season in the 38-year-old Thiago Silva to injury, after Harry Kane fell on the defender’s leg following a typically excellent challenge in the box, was a blow, and the ever-extending goalless drought seemed to be a further source of the drain.
Tottenham became more adventurous from there. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg hit the post with a spinning shot, deflected onto the frame of the goal thanks to an important touch from Silva’s replacement Wesley Fofana. Chelsea’s response was to slow the game down, with Arrizabalaga taking a barge from Kane after dallying.
It had turned into a scrappy game, with both sides irritable, turning the play fragmented. It led to the only real incident of note in the first half, as Hakim Ziyech was shown a red card for a shove towards Emerson Royal’s face, only for referee Stuart Atwell to overturn his decision after consulting the pitchside monitor. It was a confusing incident but undoubtedly a let-off for Chelsea before half time.
Chelsea failed to make the most of their reprieve. Instead Tottenham came out flying from kick-off, with Royal shooting at Kepa immediately from the restart and Skipp hammering a shot off the underside of the crossbar from Fernandez’s hasty clearance. Felix was too slow to react and so were Chelsea, who offered nothing after going behind.
Tottenham sensed it. Spurs were not brilliant but managed to be effective. Stellini picked the same team who defeated West Ham in the second half last weekend, again keeping Son Heung-min on the bench, only this time he did not require a match-winning impact from the South Korea international.
Potter, too, was too passive. The Chelsea manager was in the process of sending on Mudryk and the returning Aubameyang when Kane doubled Tottenham’s lead, unmarked at the back post. The question now is how Potter can possibly survive a run of just two Premier League wins in 15.