For about a quarter of an hour, it seemed as though we were in for a tough ride against Tottenham Hotspur. The visitors were on a roll, having won two straight Premier League matches (this constitutes a roll if you're Spurs), and Chelsea were coming off a low following the 0-0 draw at Sunderland. That's certainly how both teams began the match, at any rate: the visitors were all over us for a spell, with Harry Kane in particular causing some serious problems for Thibaut Courtois and friends.
Some of the carnage -- the young striker hit the post with a looping header and then dragged a shot just wide -- seemed to be a result of an early clash of heads between Jan Vertonghen and Gary Cahill. The Chelsea medical staff took their time in patching Cahill up, but he still seemed a little off when he returned to the pitch, and was directly responsible for losing Kane for both of Tottenham's big chances. Meanwhile, at the other end, Hugo Lloris had been more or less untroubled.
Then the Blues remembered how good they are and put the game beyond doubt before we got to the 25 minute mark.
There were a few signs that Chelsea were springing to life before Eden Hazard's opener, but Spurs clearly weren't paying attention. Aaron Lennon and Vlad Chiriches drifted away from the Belgian, who proceded to make the most of his freedom. First he waited for Lennon to make a desperate lunging challenge, twisting neatly to avoid the winger, than he fed Didier Drogba at the top of the box with a neat pass. With the Tottenham defence frozen, Hazard then darted into the area and met the return ball with a neat finish which Lloris couldn't quite keep out.
1-0 was nice, but 2-0 was better, and the second goal arrived very quickly. Lloris hadn't been at fault for the first goal, but he should have done far better on the next. A hilariously weak clearance from the French international found Hazard alone in the middle of the pitch, and a short pass later and Oscar had the Spurs defensive line at his mercy. He took his time, waiting for a run from Drogba, and Drogba duly obliged, shrugging off the unfortunate Jan Vertonghen before blasting home.
And after that ... well, Chelsea decided to see what Tottenham could do to them, and the answer turned out to be 'not a whole lot'. The Blues sat back, creating little but allowing even less, and seemed as though they were perfectly happy to await full time. Which was funny, because we were barely midway through the first half.
Eventually, things did happen -- Cahill got pulled off for Kurt Zouma (who was excellent) at halftime; Nemanja Matic picked up a yellow card that will see him suspended for the away match against Newcastle; Willian ran around like a very efficient little maniac -- but they seemed mostly divorced from the ultimate outcome of the football match. Spurs had already lost, and everyone knew it.
But it wasn't yet over. Second-half substitute Loïc Rémy opted to violate the fragile peace to rub further salt into the visitors' wounds, picking up a great pass from Cesar Azpilicueta before sending Vertonghen into a miserable, sprawled heap and firing past Lloris to make it 3-0. That cushion was enough for Jose Mourinho to feel comfortable in yanking Cesc Fabregas off for John Obi Mikel, at which point we went back to standard fare, which was mostly us laughing at Spurs' attempts to do anything.
In essence, this was a game in which all of the important bits happened in the first quarter. After that, there was only ever going to be one winner, and so it proved. Here's to another quarter-century of dominating Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge.