Hot Spurs burn Chelsea
Chelsea opened 2015 by seeing their English Premier League lead wiped out by a frenzied 5-3 capitulation to Tottenham yesterday as former midfielder Frank Lampard drew Manchester City level on points with a 3-2 victory over Sunderland.
Uncharacteristic defensive frailties by Chelsea allowed Tottenham to beat their London rivals for the first time in almost five years, with Harry Kane scoring twice.
Never before, across Jose Mourinho's two spells as manager, had Chelsea conceded so many times.
"We made some defensive mistakes," Mourinho said. "We had some individual problems with the defensive structure."
As did Man City, but the champions recovered after squandering a two-goal lead for the second time in a week, preventing a repeat of the 2-2 draw against Burnley on Sunday.
It showed just how important it was for City late on New Year's Eve to secure the 36-year-old Lampard until the end of the Premier League season rather than see him return to sister club New York City FC to start the Major League Soccer campaign in March.
With Chelsea and Man City level on points, goal difference and goals scored, only alphabetical order separates them.
Arsenal and Liverpool are struggling to make the top four.
Liverpool threw away a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 with bottom-place Leicester and stay eighth, while Arsenal missed a chance to dislodge Southampton from fourth place by losing 2-0 at the surprise high-fliers.
Southampton are only a point behind Manchester United after the third-place team drew 1-1 at Stoke, with Radamel Falcao recovering the point.
All three teams in the relegation zone drew. Crystal Palace, who are on the verge of completing the managerial signing of Alan Pardew from Newcastle, drew 0-0 at Aston Villa. Burnley drew 3-3 at Newcastle, who are yet to appoint Pardew's successor.
West Bromwich Albion confirmed Tony Pulis as the new manager earlier yesterday, and he was at Upton Park to see his team draw 1-1 at sixth-place West Ham to stay a point above the relegation zone.
Everton are surprisingly in the bottom half of the standings - three points above the danger zone - after Hull's 2-0 victory inflicted a fourth straight loss.
Queens Park Rangers' survival hopes were helped by a 1-1 draw against Swansea.
Such was the frenzied nature of the game at White Hart lane, the most significant result of Mauricio Pochettino's first season at Tottenham looked uncertain until the closing stages, with goals gifted by both teams. Even sweeter for Spurs was the win taking them above north London rival Arsenal into fifth place, only two points from the top four.
"With a victory like today you can improve quicker," Pochettino said. "We have improved a lot in the last months. We are stronger now."
Although Diego Costa put Chelsea in front, Kane levelled with his first goal on the half-hour, while Danny Rose and Andros Townsend's penalty gave Tottenham a halftime lead.
Either side of Nacer Chadli's fifth for Tottenham, Eden Hazard and John Terry scored for the visitors but they couldn't prevent Chelsea losing for the first time since 2010 to their north London rivals.
Chelsea had led in the 18th minute. Hazard darted past Rose and was denied by the post, but Oscar sent the ball back across the face of goal and Costa was primed to tap into the net.
But the impetus was soon with Tottenham again after another moment of individual quality from this breakthrough season for Kane. The 21-year-old forward waltzed in from the left facing little resistance before powering the ball past goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.