The occasion centered on a certain Frenchman. However, it was an often overlooked Brazilian that proved the difference.
Chelsea continued their charge toward a third English Premier League title in four years Saturday, dismissing Tottenham 2-0 at Stamford Bridge. Goals from Juliano Belletti and Shaun Wright-Phillips kept the Blues within striking distance of the top two, just four points behind league leaders Manchester United and second-place Arsenal.
The deciding goal came within the first 20 minutes, a Belletti 30-yard laser setting the table for the Blues. The Brazilian fullback, subject to criticism immediately following his surprise move to London from Barcelona just before the Summer transfer window closed, continues to excel. And when you considering the nominal fee paid for him -- £3.7 million -- it proves all the more impressive.
The first half saw Chelsea largely dominant, despite a real lack of threat in front of goal. In the second, Tottenham received a spark from Adel Taarabt, whose commitment appeared to inspire Spurs. Despite his electric work, Taarabt failed to produce a goal -- and neither did his teammates. In the 80th minute, SWP sealed it for the Blues with a low, rasping effort from 20 yards. It was the second consecutive MOTM worthy performance for the young Englishman, who seems to have found his niche as a central/attacking midfielder. In particular, his understanding, and subsequent interchange, with Joe Cole has become something to watch.
More importantly, though, may have been the performance from Makelele. The elder statesman showed just why the defensive midfield role he undertakes has been named after him. Maks seemingly popped up everywhere, whether it was to thwart an attack, retrieve an errant pass, deflect a shot, make a clearance, etc. etc. For those of us who feared he had finally hit the wall, it was fantastic to see.
On 58 minutes, the aforementioned Frenchman made his Chelsea debut. He certainly didn't disappoint. With nearly his first touch, Anelka forced a brilliant save on the half-volley. In the 90th, he rattled the crossbar. And though this match was already won, on look, it appeared this 28-year-old will have a say in many results to come.