If football teams were Winnie the Pooh characters, it's difficult to imagine Tottenham Hotspur being anyone other than Eeyore. Spurs fans -- the old, proper Spurs fans -- understand their lot in life and that lot is grey, bleak and generally embarrassing. They might sometimes be entertaining, they might sometimes (briefly) raise expectations, they might sometimes be in possession of Luka Modric, but they are always, always, Spurs. And they know it.
I think the funniest part of the match today was that there was room to point to a major injustice in influencing the course of the match. Michael Oliver's decision to award a dubious penalty in Chelsea's favour at 1-0 -- then dismiss Younes Kaboul for the challenge on top of that -- was, admittedly, both a strange call and decisive. But although Tottenham can cling to that moment as a sign that they were monstrously unlucky, in truth they deserved to get tonked, perhaps worse than the final 4-0 scoreline.
With Fernando Torres injured in warmups, it took just twenty seconds for his replacement, Samuel Eto'o, to make a mark on the game. Picking up a perfect pass from Eden Hazard, the Cameroon international escaped the Tottenham back line before rounding -- and getting taken down by -- Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris. It was a clear straight red if not for the fact that the linesman had already flagged Eto'o for offside, a call as accurate as Oscar's recent shooting.
Having been saved a sending off by an officiating error, Lloris then escaped an early dismissal thanks to the good graces of Eden Hazard. After being released by Eto'o after good work from Andre Schurrle resulted in a turnover high up the pitch, Hazard rode a challenge from Lloris that he had every right to go down under and then, off balance, slashed a shot into the side netting.
All of five minutes had gone by at this point, and Chelsea could easily have been 2-0 up and Spurs down a man. We looked set for a deeply amusing rout -- the visitors looked suicidally adventurous and it seemed, briefly, that we could have picked them off at will. But as the first half progressed, Tim Sherwood's side started to properly assert themselves, controlling possession in the centre of the pitch and actually offering the occasional scoring threat.
Petr Cech had to be alert to keep out a fizzing volley from Sandro, but he would have been powerless to stop Nabil Bentaleb's effort on a break had the Algerian international got his shot on target. Fortunately, it fizzed well wide. Worryingly, Chelsea's counterattacking threat simply was not materialising, the passing in the final third just not good enough to seriously threaten Spurs' goal.
And so we reached halftime at 0-0, a scoreline made all the more annoying by the fact that Spurs should have been down to ten men after the first minute. Chelsea hadn't threatened, but neither had Tottenham, really -- but as the home side, generating momentum was our responsibility.
Mourinho's response was to pull off Frank Lampard in favour of Oscar and switch the 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1. It's difficult to know just how much an impact that switch had, since Spurs went all Spurs ten minutes after the break, but it's clear that the intent was to run through the centre, and once both Bentaleb and Sandro were booked it was almost impossible for the duo to stop Ramires and Nemanja Matic rampaging through the middle.
But, like I said: Spurs are Spurs and will never not be Spurs.
The opening goal was scored because a centre back was doing his shoelaces and the other a) fell down and b) played a pass while seated straight to Samuel Eto'o. It was a calamitous set of errors, and Eto'o made the most of it by sliding a neat finish between Lloris' legs to give Chelsea a 1-0 lead. It was our first shot on target, and it came from a Jan Vertonghen* throughball.
*Welcome to the ranks of Belgian Chelsea heroes, Jan!
And the visitors hadn't recovered from their blunder by the time Oliver decided to make up for his crew's first-minute error and show Tottenham a random red card. Hazard did well down the left and sent in a cross for Eto'o, who went to ground under not-that-much-all-told contact from Kaboul. Most would have been expecting the referee to wave it off; instead he pointed to the spot. And then he reached for his back pocket.
With Hazard taking the penalty, the second goal was a foregone conclusion, and with Spurs facing a two-goal deficit and down to 10 men, the match was a foregone conclusion. Tottenham stopped playing, and an unfortunate injury to Michael Dawson screwed them up even further, eventually resulting in Kyle Walker playing in central midfield and Sandro (who should have been shown a second booking for pulling back Oscar) at centre back.
With the game in hand, Chelsea dropped down a gear, but they still amused themselves in testing their visitor's makeshift backline -- and by introducing Willian for Schurrle in the 66th minute. The definitely-not-signing-for-Tottenham-hahahahahaha Brazilian worked hard to make them regret their failure to secure his signature over the summer, but despite his industry the next two goals came as a result of... well, stop me if you've heard this before: Spurs being Spurs.
It's difficult to figure out what Sandro was trying to do when he got himself in the way of Oscar's 88th-minute cross, but I'm going to assume it wasn't 'fall on his face and give the ball to Demba Ba' was not actually the desired outcome. Nevertheless, it's what happened, giving the substitute striker the chance to poke home from close range, and then two minutes later a ludicrous header from Walker handed Ba another goal -- he stole in ahead of Lloris, seized possession and then slotted in from the edge of the box to complete the scoring.
After the match, Sherwood was virtually in tears, slamming his team for being... them? I'm not sure I really get it, but any time you get to envision the opposition manager crying is a pretty good day. The best part? That's not even the best troll-job we've done to Tottenham in the past two years. Allow me to present the best day ever:
Ha. Ha ha. Hahahahahahahahahahaha.
PS: 66 points is seven more than anyone else has, games in hand or no.