Chelsea supporters could have been forgiven for sensing the worst at Wembley on Sunday afternoon. Injuries, suspensions, and transfers limited manager Antonio Conte’s team selection, but the Blues once again showed a resilience that has long been a hallmark of the club, taking a 2-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley.
A brace from Marcos Alonso offset a Michy Batshuayi own goal to give Chelsea a vital three points, especially after last week’s disappointing defeat at home to Burnley.
Forget making statements to the Chelsea Board. Suspensions to Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas and the long-term injury to Eden Hazard meant that Chelsea started the match with just 14 fit senior players, including the bench, meaning Conte handed Tiemoue Bakayoko and Alvaro Morata their full debuts, despite both being short of match fitness.
In the end, it didn’t matter. Spurs, for all their possession and shots on target, failed to breach the Chelsea defence in open play, and for large portions of the match, the Blues were quite happy to clog the midfield and make the match a bit scrappy.
Alvaro Morata should have opened the Chelsea scoring early when Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross found him unmarked, but the Spanish striker could only manage to head it wide with Hugo Lloris stranded.
Dele Alli’s foul on David Luiz just outside the area presented a perfect angle for the left-footed Marcos Alonso, and Alonso did not disappoint, flighting the ball just over the head of Toby Alderweireld and curling past the diving Lloris to give Chelsea a lead that they just about deserved.
But that goal seemed to galvanise the hosts. Spurs began to ratchet up the tempo and gave Cheslea real problems. First, Harry Kane found space that was lacking in the early stages of the match, making a run inside Alonso only to see his low shot saved by Courtois.
Kane thought he’d equalised just before the half when he cut inside Andreas Christensen, only to see his shot carom off the far post.
Just before the half, Ben Davies found himself in space 20 yards out and unleashed a swerving effort that Courtois had to push around the post at full stretch.
Spurs continued where they left off in the first half, putting all sorts of pressure on Chelsea, and the Blues simply could not find a way out of their own half.
Spurs should have equalised through Kane when Kieran Trippier’s found space on the right, but saw his early cross diverted by Cesar Azpilicueta.
Spurs continued to crank up the pressure even further, hoping to add that little bit of creativity that had been lacking up until that point.
But it wasn’t a Spurs player who finally got the breakthrough for the North London side. It was the poor positioning of Michy Batshuayi and a wonderful header into the wrong goal that gave Spurs their equaliser.
Bakayoko, who had been feeling the effects of not being quite match fit, conceded a free kick on the left. Eriksen’s resulting free kick met the head of Batshuayi, who turned the ball past Courtois, leaving the Belgian striker with his head in his hands.
Alonso popped up to spare Batshuayi’s blushes minutes before time, when Pedro’s cute pass found him in space on the left, and his low drive squirmed under Lloris to restore Chelsea’s lead and send the Chelsea supporters home with a well-earned victory amidst the chaos of recent weeks.