Chelsea returned to their winning ways with a crucial 2-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge.
It was a day for unexpected heroes, with the home side taking a first half lead thanks to Olivier Giroud. The France striker finished clinically inside Hugo Lloris' near post -- that despite coming precariously close to leaving Chelsea last month. Spurs did force Willy Caballero into a handful of good saves, but it was Frank Lampard's side who remained on top, making their superiority count thanks to a fine second-half strike from Marcos Alonso.
Spurs did manage to score a late consolation goal, but the mercurial wing-back's powerful drive was enough to seal a famous win over their rivals -- and consolidate fourth place in the Premier League table.
The renaissance of Giroud has come as a pleasant surprise to many at the club, especially so with Tammy Abraham still not up to full fitness. The Frenchman's commitment to the Chelsea cause may have been in question -- but he offered yet another reminder today of why his finishing is rarely doubted. A month ago, he was seemingly bound for Italy. Now, however, he is filling in for Abraham with distinction. From a defensive standpoint, Lampard will also be pleased to see his side looking far more solid, especially in a relatively new tactical system.
If there is one area of frustration from today's game, it was perhaps that Giovani Lo Celso didn't see red for an obviously dangerous challenge on Cesar Azpilicueta. The stamp, which could have easily broken the Chelsea man's leg, didn't yield a red card after a VAR check, to Lampard's amazement. Similarly, the gaffer will rue Tottenham's late goal, as it denied his side a much-needed clean sheet.
Manager rating out of 10
9 -- Lampard got his tactics, and team selection spot on. The experimental 3-4-3 system paid dividends, with Reece James and Alonso both playing superbly in advanced wide positions. Additionally, Olivier Giroud's recent form continues to defy the doubters -- the manager included.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK: Willy Caballero 8 -- Pulled off a number of excellent saves from close range, including an acrobatic tip over the bar from a goal-bound Spurs header. On this form, Kepa may struggle to force his way back into the side any time soon.
DF: Andreas Christensen 7 -- With Chelsea seldom troubled defensively, the Danish centre-half had very little of note to deal with. His composed distribution from the back was also a positive.
DF: Cesar Azpilicueta 8 -- Hardworking and committed as always, the long-serving Chelsea man was the side's best defender throughout. Continues to highlight his versatility, as he was played in a central position this afternoon.
MF: Reece James 7 -- Energetic and inventive, it's little wonder why the youngster has already won so many plaudits. With reduced defensive responsibilities thanks to the tweaked formation, James was free to venture forward, causing the Spurs back line plenty of problems in the process.
MF: Mateo Kovacic 8 -- In what was a perfect midfield tandem, the Croatian accompanied Jorginho perfectly as the more creative of the two. With fine dribbles and dangerous through balls, it was another pleasing performance.
MF: Jorginho 7 -- As the more defensive central midfielder, he fulfilled his duties incredibly well, turning the ball over on a number of occasions. Simple, but very effective.
MF: Marcos Alonso 8 -- Scorer of Chelsea's second, he looked dangerous all afternoon, both with his passing and shooting. After coming precariously close to scoring a wonder goal in the first half, he made no mistake the second time around -- highlighting once again his habit for the spectacular.
FW: Mason Mount 7 -- Direct and dangerous, he impressed this afternoon despite playing out wide. Spurs struggled to contain the academy graduate, who made a number of intelligent runs -- with one particular dribble teeing up Alonso for the second Chelsea goal.
FW: Ross Barkley 8 -- The 26-year-old rattled the crossbar just before Giroud's opener. He had a hand in just about everything good that Chelsea did going forward.
FW: Olivier Giroud 9 -- Who saw this coming? A month ago, the World Cup winner was seemingly out the door. Now he is leading the line for Chelsea and scoring vitally important goals in the absence of Tammy Abraham. There's life in the veteran forward yet.
Tammy Abraham 7 -- Perhaps should have converted a close-range chance late on, but the home faithful will just be glad to see the striker is fit and firing again.
Willian N/A -- Replaced Barkley in the 77th minute.