MATA: HARD-FOUGHT POINT

Juan Mata was part of a much-improved Chelsea performance after half-time at Tottenham and he spoke afterwards about the 1-1 draw.

The Spaniard was introduced at the interval as a replacement for John Mikel Obi, with Jose Mourinho asking Ramires to drop deeper and Mata playing predominantly wide on the right, and it was his free-kick John Terry headed in for our first away league goal of the season and the equaliser following Spurs’ first-half opener.

Mata’s contribution at White Hart Lane, following on from his midweek performance in the cup match at Swindon, led Mourinho to announce after yesterday’s game that the player would start away to Steaua Bucharest on Tuesday.

‘Obviously everyone wants to play but as I said last week, I am a professional, I respect all of my team mates and what I want to do is enjoy it on the pitch, and I think against Tottenham I did that,’ Mata said.

‘We needed to improve and we tried to, and when I came on I just tried to give my best for the team. It is what I did since I came and it is what I am going to do until the end. I am happy with the second half, but it wasn’t enough to win.

‘Last season we won here and this season we wanted to win again, it wasn’t possible but the team showed that we can fight until the end.’

Having levelled the score and gone close to taking the lead, Chelsea’s task became a lot harder following the sending-off of Fernando Torres.

‘I don’t know [about the red card] but Fernando is not a player who goes to hurt,’ said Mata.

‘In the first half we had some problems, in the second half we had chances to score more goals but at the end we played 10 minutes with 10 players which is very difficult against Tottenham, but we kept compact and we fought until the end to get this point.

‘It was a tough game so I think a point is not bad from here, and maybe they played better the first half and we played better the second half.’

CHELSEA TV EXCLUSIVE: TERRY THE LEVELLER

John Terry was interviewed by Chelsea TV after Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Tottenham and in a clip that can be viewed above, the skipper discusses his equalising goal and another chance he had to score in the game.

The full interview can be watched now via the channel’s online access.

FINAL WHISTLE VERDICT: SHOULD HAVE WON

The Blues came from behind at White Hart Lane to earn a point in an entertaining 1-1 draw, and Jose Mourinho felt we were good value for all three.

John Terry scored a second-half header to cancel out Gylfi Sigurdsson’s 18th-minute opener, while Fernando Torres was harshly dismissed late in the game following an aerial challenge with Jan Vertonghen.

Having struggled to impose ourselves in the first half, particularly in the final third, it was a much improved Chelsea after the break, aided in no small part by a tactical switch which saw Juan Mata replace John Mikel Obi at half-time and Ramires revert back into a deeper role alongside Frank Lampard.

Mourinho was understandably frustrated at the dismissal of Torres, but was delighted with our second-half display, and he admitted he didn’t have to say too much to the players at the break.

‘Simple things, objective things, explaining a few situations but not much,’ he said. ‘It’s always a Jose Mourinho team, even in the first half it was a Jose Mourinho team. I never run away from my team, it’s always my team but in the second half we played very well. We played with very good spirit, a strong mentality, we were strong tactically and the second half was very good.’

On the overall result
‘When you get a draw at the home of a title contender it’s never a bad result. When you get to the end of the season, March, April, May and June you will see if you get a lot of points at home and win some matches away, and don’t lose against your direct opponents for the title, we will be there.

‘I’m not saying we are going to win but we will be there. We won’t be like two seasons ago, 20 points behind, or like last season, 15 points behind, we will be there.

‘If you told me before the match I would get a point at Tottenham I would say not bad. If you said at half-time we would get a point I would say okay, but the way we played in the second half we should have won the game.’

On the sending off of Torres
‘Football is football and things happen which we don’t know why. At that time we were much better and stronger, they were in trouble.

‘I’m curious to read what you (the media) want to say about it. This is about the game, and especially in this country I learned before I arrived here what the game is and the principles you need to play.

‘When I arrived here in 2004 I had players arriving from other countries and I had to educate them because England is England and other countries are other countries. In other countries people say the guy is clever and the guy is intelligent because he pretends it’s a penalty or a red card. Not in England, that’s not what I learned here.

‘That’s why I don’t think the referee is guilty, he made the wrong decision but he trusts the player. When you see the player with his hand on his face and pretending it was a violent action the natural tendency is to follow and make the decision.

‘It was a situation where the player wasn’t helping the referee. He’s a fantastic player but he’s a special guy because three days ago he left the player naked against Aston Villa. It wasn’t a penalty or a red card and he shouldn’t have played today, he should have been suspended from a red card against Villa. Today he changed the game, I’m not happy.’

On Juan Mata’s response to being left out against Fulham
I think this is the way players have to say I want to play, blah blah blah is not good, conversations with the press aren’t good, what’s good is the effort he made against Swindon, it’s the way he changed the team in the second half and because of that I’m very happy and I can say with 72 hours in advance, he plays in Steaua Bucharest, he earned that himself.’

On our start to the season
We have to keep working, there are things we cannot change, some qualities of players you can’t change, you have to try to work and hide your weak points and bring up the situations where we are very good.

‘We have our problems and some of them are not easy to resolve but we’ve had a difficult start. We had to play at the home of two title contenders so it’s been a difficult start. Step by step we are getting there.’

His Tottenham counterpart, meanwhile, Andre Villas-Boas, felt a draw was a fair reflection on the balance of play.

‘It was a difficult, hard battle between two teams that wanted to win the game,’ he said. It was a fair result but the league won’t be decided on games like these.

‘The result serves Chelsea better as they have already been to Manchester United and Tottenham and drawn.

‘The sending off was difficult for the referee to judge but it was a bit dubious and unfair on Fernando.’

MATCH REPORT: TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 CHELSEA 1

Summary
A spirited second-half display by the visitors earned a draw in the Saturday lunchtime London derby, John Terry levelling after an early Spurs strike.

There was added satisfaction that the point was gained despite the disadvantage of 10 men for the closing stages after Fernando Torres, who was causing the home side plenty of problems, was sent off.

Tottenham took the lead after 18 minutes and looked capable of increasing their advantage but Chelsea rallied well and could have added to Terry’s 64th-minute set-piece goal in the second period but for good saves from Tottenham keeper Hugo Lloris.

Team News
There were three changes to the side that began the last league game. David Luiz returned to defence and with Ramires passed fit following a hip strain suffered at Swindon, he moved forward to a wide right position in place of Andre Schurrle.

Frank Lampard returned to midfield alongside John Mikel Obi and Fernando Torres, a Capital One Cup scorer midweek, retained his place up front.

Tottenham were unchanged from their Premier League win at Cardiff.

First half
The main excitement and incident of the afternoon was saved for the second half, with the first period often a cagey affair.

A quickly released pass down the middle towards Eden Hazard threatened to become an early chance but the leaping Belgian couldn’t reach the ball with his outstretched leg. Then Lampard hooked a shot not too far over with only a split-second to have a go after Torres caused Spurs some problems.

At the other end Jan Vertonghen had the chance of a clear header at goal from a free-kick but planted it well wide, and David Luiz had to cover diligently and clear after Ashley Cole lost the ball out on the touchline.

In truth though, it was a messy start to the derby, the referee’s whistle frequently punctuating the action. Both sides then took turns at a minute or two of more controlled possession and the reward, on 18 minutes, came Spurs way.

It was Christian Eriksen in the left-hand channel who made the important advance, then turning the ball inside the box to where Roberto Soldado touched the ball back to Gylfi Sigurdsson. The Icelandic midfielder was able to guide the ball wide of Cech from inside the area to give the home side the lead.

They would have doubled it just two minute later had Branislav Ivanovic not slide in front of Paulinho to turn a cross behind for a corner.

The tempo of the game dipped a little after that which was to Chelsea’s advantage, giving a chance to consolidate. Then a couple of crosses came over from the left, one just too high for John Terry to direct a header.

With seven minutes to go before the interval, Hugo Lloris came a long way to successfully punch clear but Chelsea kept the pressure on. A Hazard shot from outside the box looked on its way to test the Spurs keeper before it deflected off Vertonghen for a corner.

The Spurs central defender later tidied up after a promising Mikel ball into the box bounced off Torres as he tried to bring it under control.

Andros Townsend was booked for a dive, followed into the book by Eriksen for a shirt pull on Oscar before the end of the half, Chelsea’s Brazilian having hit a shot cleanly but straight at the keeper shorty before.

There was a big warning to Chelsea that despite having a foothold in the game in the closing minutes of the half, it was a shaky one when Townsend slipped a pass between two defenders and Paulinho hit the post with a shot from an angle. That was with 44 minutes on the clock and there was time for one Chelsea chance too.

Ramires returned the ball into the area with venom after Lloris had again judged a punch well. Terry won an aerial contest to head cleanly but couldn’t hit the target.

Second half
It was no surprise that Mourinho made a change at half-time. Ramires dropped back to play alongside Lampard with Mata coming on to take a position predominantly wide on the right.

On 47 minutes came the best moment of the game for the Blues so far, Torres superbly beating two Spurs players including Vertonghen before looking up and crossing to Oscar at the far post. On the slide, the Brazilian couldn’t make a clean contact.

Torres became Chelsea’s first booking soon after following a foul on Vertonghen near the corner flag. The two remained engaged in a physical duel for the rest of the time they were together on the pitch.

The half was fast becoming the Fernando Torres show with another gliding run by the Spaniard leaving Dawson trailing in his wake, but he couldn’t find the finish and Lloris saved.

Mata had the ball in the net on 56 minutes after Torres had knocked down a long David Luiz pass but was defeated by the offside flag, but it was another sign that Chelsea were having the better of the half. We weren’t having it all our own way and Mousa Dembele had worried the Blues by taking on Ivanovic and crossing menacingly however.

Vertonghen gathered Spurs’ third yellow card for catching Ramires late as Chelsea looked to spring a counter-attack. There was much frustration on the Chelsea bench that the foul had denied the opportunity but we didn’t have to wait long for justice. Hazard sent the free-kick into the area and Terry, who had been supreme in the air at both ends, lost Dawson with his run and headed down and in with Lloris, on this occasion, helpless.

Both sides made changes soon after, Mourinho swapping Schurrle for Hazard with the German asked to play mostly on the left with Mata in a more central position and Oscar right.

Dawson joined the booked players for a trip on Torres and Dembele followed soon after for one on Mata.

Between the two cautions Lloris denied Chelsea a second goal. Torres yet again did splendidly to commit his marker and then lay the ball into the path of Schurrle’s run, but the Spurs keeper was having a good game himself it has to be admitted, and as Schurrle tried to lift the ball over, the Frenchman’s reactions were equal to it.

The moment that had been threatening to come arrived on 81 minutes. The Spurs fans rose to their feet to demand punishment for Torres following another aerial coming together with Vertonghen. After a wait, referee Mike Dean produced the second yellow card that changed the balance of the rest of the game. Replays showed Torres and his team-mates had good cause to feel aggrieved.

Oscar was substituted by Cesar Azpilicueta as the Blues reshaped but Spurs moved onto the front foot.

Cech saved from substitute Jermain Defoe and Sigurdsson went close with an effort from long range but anything less than a point from this visit to the Lane would have been harsh on the Blues.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1):Cech; Ivanovic, D Luiz, Terry (c), Cole; Mikel (Mata 45), Lampard; Ramires, Oscar (Azpilicueta 81), Hazard (Schurrle 69); Torres.
Unused subs Schwarzer, Cahill, Essien, Eto’o.
Scorer Terry 64.
Booked
Torres 48.
Sent off Torres 81

Tottenham (4-2-3-1):Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Naughton;Paulinho,Dembele; Townsend (Chadli 62), Eriksen (Holtby 69), Sigurdsson; Soldado (Defoe 76).
Unused subs Friedel, Chiriches, Lamela, Sandro.
Scorer Sigurdsson 18.
Booked Townsend 42, Eriksen 44, Vertonghen 63, Dawson 74, Dembele 77.

Referee
Mike Dean.
Crowd

MOURINHO: SIZING UP

Today’s opponents Tottenham may have made eight new signings since we last met them back in May, but one player they did not add to their squad despite efforts was Willian.

Instead the Brazilian attacker, who had undergone a medical with the north London club, joined Chelsea and while it remains to be seen if he will be involved in the lunchtime game, he was a subject of the pre-match talk with Jose Mourinho asked how he persuaded Willian to choose the Blues.

‘I did nothing,’ he responded.

‘The only thing I know is that the kid wanted to play for Chelsea and he made it very clear. Chelsea had for about two years been trying to get Willian and he felt very frustrated when that move couldn’t happen.

‘A situation arrived where he wanted to come and Chelsea were happy, and I was just asked about the quality of the player and if I would like to have the player, and of course I said yes.

‘Two seasons ago the kid was almost here and for the difference of some money it was not possible. After that Shakhtar sold him to Anzhi and the kid didn’t want to go, he always had the dream to play for Chelsea so it was based on that.’

By common consensus the players Spurs did acquire in the summer months have helped make them an imposing team, and Mourinho commented on that too.

‘They are physical but when I say physical I am not saying just big, strong people. I am also saying fast, intensive people and at the same time I think they’ve also built a very good defensive team.

‘They defend very well. The first thing they think is to be solid defensively and to build from that.’

A win for Chelsea today will see us overtake Tottenham in the table and the team Mourinho chooses for that task is unlikely to vary significantly from his last league selection.

‘We didn’t play a fantastic match against Fulham,’ he said, ‘but we played a compact one and we controlled the situation okay. So I am not going to make big changes. I want to leave some stability and some routine for the team.’