Chelsea vs. Tottenham Hotspur score: Spurs go top with draw as Olivier Giroud spurns late chance

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Tottenham returned to the top of the Premier League table after holding Chelsea to a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge.

Jose Mourinho's side set out their stall in the same fashion they had in their victory over Manchester City last week but on this occasion lacked the counter-attacking thrust to earn victory away to their London rivals. However, for much of the game they also kept Chelsea at arms length, at least until substitute Olivier Giroud wasted the best chance of the match when he volleyed straight at Hugo Lloris after Joe Rodon miscued his clearing header.

Read on for the key talking points from the game.

Mourinho's plan is good enough

Spurs were compact, and defended with two lines of defenders near their own goal. That did not mean they were negative or cautious. They simply reasoned that the most effective way to beat Chelsea was to constrict supply to the frontline and break with ferocity.

It worked. Early on Timo Werner had put the ball in the net with aplomb, curling a shot back inside Hugo Lloris' far post, but tight as the margins were he had been offside. 

After 25 minutes Werner, Tammy Abraham and Hakim Ziyech had completed 13 total passes as compared to the 14 made by Spurs right back Serge Aurier alone. By the interval Chelsea had registered just five shots with an expected goals value of 0.23 expected goals. Tottenham's attack was not any more potent but their approach was far clearer.

Win the ball back, let Tanguy Ndombele lead the break and trust him to unleash Heung-min Son, Harry Kane and Steven Bergwijn on the counter. Their approach did not bring about a clear goal scoring opportunity but then it only needed to work once to create a top quality chance for a very good finisher.

In the second period Spurs rather struggled to get out, going over half an hour without a shot, but equally Chelsea's only significant chance came from a rare error from a Tottenham defender rather than any creative excellence from the Blues.

For Mourinho, it said everything that when he opted to withdraw Bergwijn it was not for Gareth Bale but for left-back Ben Davies. One might even have concluded that the reason Son came off for Lucas Moura in stoppage time was that he was the furthest from the substitutes' bench. 

The Tottenham manager, perhaps more than anyone else, will see this in the context of his side's broader fixture list. Last weekend Spurs a win against Manchester City and the coming weeks bring the north London derby and a trip to Liverpool. To make it through the first two of these brutal games with four points so far is cause for celebration. 

Lampard's midfield play it safe

Frank Lampard had telegraphed from the outset that he would not allow his side to be drawn into Spurs' trap. There was to be no room for Kai Havertz in the number 10 role but instead a trio of shrewd midfielders who could be trusted not to leave the back door open. Even Mount - nominally the most creative among himself, Mateo Kovacic and N'Golo Kante - has won a key role for Chelsea and England at least in part because of his energy out of possession.

So it was that Chelsea largely attacked their visitors with four players for most of the match, Reece James plus the front three. Inevitably with their right-back as one of their few attacking options they ended up firing in cross after cross. James' delivery was excellent but was also just what Spurs wanted to face.

James created three chances for Chelsea, Mount and Kovacic a combined one. Kante felt like something of a statistical curio by ending the game with the same chance creation tally as his right-back but that was largely explained by him several times playing the pass to a midfield team-mate who subsequently had few options ahead of him but to take a low quality shot from range.

You suspected that what might have given the hosts more difficulty was a player such as Havertz who could beat one or two opponents in a tight space before picking a pass to a forward. Doing so brings sizeable rewards but equally risks leaving the defense rather unprotected in the likely event that the move fails.

Ultimately Lampard decided that the guarantee of one point was worth rather more than swinging for the fences.

Rodon rises to the occasion on his debut

Mourinho has been roundly, and rightly, criticized for much of his managerial career for showing an aversion to developing younger players and favoring ageing lieutenants. Spurs struggling defender Davinson Sanchez is no senior professional at 24 it still felt significant that it was Joe Rodon, playing in the Championship just over a month ago, who was entrusted with the task of partnering Eric Dier in Toby Alderweireld's absence.

After 10 minutes off the bench against Burnley and Manchester City this was Rodon's full Premier League debut and there would be no room to hide for him in a match where Mourinho's plan was reliant on his center backs repelling everything that came their way.

The young Welshman showed all the composure and surety of a man who had been playing with his team-mates for years, coolly flicking balls back to Lloris in the right position for the goalkeeper's clearing left boot and constantly relaying messages to Eric Dier.

What Mourinho will like most about his young center back is his willingness to throw himself at the ball no matter the moment; even when Werner had already been adjudged to have fouled Aurier on one occasion Rodon was across to block his shot. Midway through the first half that seemed to be a rather unnecessary gamble as he hurled himself at a Ben Chilwell cross to no-one but ultimately he was taking no chances.

As the aerial bombardment came in the second half from Reece James and Ziyech, Rodon kept doing just about enough. If Abraham was going to beat him to the ball the Chelsea striker would have to clamber all over him. If Dier was going to be beaten he could rest assured that his new partner would be in position to mop up in behind.

All that good work might have been undone had Giroud made firmer contact with his late chance but Rodon earned that late luck with the composed display of a Premier League veteran, giving Mourinho the best of both worlds.

Notable performances

Serge Aurier: The Ivorian has responded impressively to the acquisition of Matt Doherty and seems less prone to the sort of head scratching basic errors that have infuriated his coaches in the past. Instead he was aggressive in the tackle and calm on the ball, the ideal approach for this game. RATING: 8

Timo Werner: It said everything about his performance that as Chelsea were chasing a winner in the final 20 minutes Lampard opted to withdraw the German for Christian Pulisic. In open space Werner is deadly but in crowded matches like today's he was rather a passenger. RATING: 4

Tanguy Ndombele: He may still be limited to 60 minute bursts but an hour of Ndombele is a more thrilling watch than a full match of most other Premier League players. There are few in the league quite so press-resistant, he is a master of inviting pressure and leaving his opponent looking very silly with a smart turn or flick of his boot. RATING: 7

Recap on our live coverage below:

Chelsea 0-0 Tottenham (11:30 ET)

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November 29, 2020, 7:47 PM
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November 29, 2020, 7:30 PM
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November 29, 2020, 7:24 PM
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November 29, 2020, 7:22 PM
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Spurs go top of the league, just! Olivier Giroud will feel he could have done far more when Rodon miscued his clearing header and he volleyed tamely at Lloris. Such are the risks inherent in Mourinho's gameplan, that his side could easily spoil things with a clumsy error, but ultimately this approach has earned Tottenham four points from games against Manchester City and Chelsea.

November 29, 2020, 6:27 PM
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For all their dominance Chelsea have built a combined expected goals tally over this game of 0.71, ie the combined quality of their chances so far is just short of one goal. If this does indeed end a draw they can have few complaints.

November 29, 2020, 6:18 PM
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November 29, 2020, 6:14 PM
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November 29, 2020, 6:13 PM
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November 29, 2020, 6:10 PM
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November 29, 2020, 6:07 PM
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November 29, 2020, 6:06 PM
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We're 25 minutes into the second half and Spurs have not had a shot. They have, however, earned a corner. You feel this might be how Spurs nick this at the death with a crafty set piece. They certainly try it as Hojbjerg loops a header across goal from the front post, challenging James at the back post where Kane lurks. The Chelsea defender does just enough.

November 29, 2020, 6:03 PM
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November 29, 2020, 5:59 PM
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November 29, 2020, 5:59 PM
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Chelsea continue to dominate the possessions stakes with 60 percent of the ball and Spurs are starting to grow tired of chasing it. This could be the moment where they need to pounce before Mourinho freshens up his side, Giovanni Lo Celso already being readied.

November 29, 2020, 5:52 PM
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The crosses are coming relentlessly from the home team and they are very good deliveries, particularly from James on the right. His most recent flashed dangerously ahead of Abraham, who couldn't quite reach it, largely because Rodon had ensured that the Chelsea striker would have to clamber all over him to get to the ball. Abraham is strong and moves smartly in the box but you rather feel that if this is the way the Blues wants to beat Spurs then they would do well to bring Olivier Giroud off the bench.

November 29, 2020, 5:46 PM
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November 29, 2020, 5:42 PM
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