“I’m so happy. The points, the goal difference, the performance,” said Mourinho last night.
Arsenal’s remarkable achievement of not losing a single game during their famous campaign in 2003-4 remains matchable for Mourinho’s men as his current Chelsea side head into the Christmas period with a club record-equalling no defeats in 23 games and a six-point lead over champions Manchester City.
There are difficult games to come — including a tough trip to Newcastle at the weekend — but the way Chelsea soaked up an impressive opening 15-minutes from their London rivals before punishing them on the break with goals from Eden Hazard, Didier Drogba and Loic Remy, suggests almost anything is possible in what could be a memorable season at Stamford Bridge.
This victory came despite Chelsea being without talismanic striker Diego Costa, who was suspended, and was played out in an enthusiastic atmosphere at the Bridge, where supporters are finally beginning to realise — having been chided for their lack of noise — that something special is happening in front of their eyes.
It’s no surprise that some of those fans are getting misty-eyed as they recollect Mourinho’s first-ever Chelsea side which, inspired by Drogba, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Arjen Robben and Damien Duff, clinched the club’s first title in half a century almost 10 years ago.
It’s easy to forget that victory came only a year after Arsenal’s Invincibles made history, which is perhaps why Chelsea’s subsequent champions, who lost just one game in the campaign at Manchester City, never quite achieved the universal acclaim they deserved. But a quick look at the stats show Mourinho’s side collected 95 points that year — five more than Arsenal 12 months earlier — and achieved a goal difference of +57, 10 better than their London rivals had been able to muster.
If pushed, there is little doubt that Mourinho would argue his side of 2005 were every bit as good as Wenger’s historic team; and he hinted at it this week when he suggested he would much rather his team won games and collected points that hung on for draws to stay unbeaten.
On this form, however, it is feasible the new Chelsea could break all records if they are able to continue their remarkable progress. Having survived a frantic first 15 minutes from Spurs — in which the effervescent Harry Kane hit the bar with a header and dragged another shot wide — they effectively wrapped up victory with two goals in quick succession.
First Hazard swapped passes with Drogba and drilled a low shot into the net at Hugo Lloris’ near post after 19 minutes; then, after the Spurs goalkeeper kicked a clearance straight to the Belgian international three minutes later, Hazard found Oscar, whose sweet pass was swept home by Drogba.
At that moment you could see Tottenham’s shoulders drop, and they were further punished in the second half when substitute Remy, only recently brought on for Drogba, finished smartly to put an extra bit of gloss on the victory in the 73rd minute. Significantly, the home side also recorded their fourth clean sheet in a row, and continued an unbeaten home league record over Spurs that goes back as far as 1990.
No shame for Mauricio Pochettino, then, who is the 15th Tottenham manager to fail at Stamford Bridge during that time. But for Chelsea, already through in the Champions League, it is time to look forward to six matches between this weekend and the New Year which will play a big part in deciding if they can enjoy an Invincible season of their own; culminating in an away trip to White Hart Lane on New Year’s Day.
CHELSEA: Courtois 6, Ivanovic 7, Cahill 5 (Zouma 46; 6), Terry 7, Azpilicueta 7, Fabregas 7 (Mikel 76; 6), Matic 8, Willian 6, Oscar 8, Hazard 7, Drogba 7 (Remy 67;7).
TOTTENHAM: Lloris 5, Chiriches 6, Fazio 6, Vertonghen 5, Davies 6, Mason 5 (Paulinho 58), Bentaleb 5, Lamela 5 (Soldado 73; 5), Eriksen 7, Lennon 6 (Chadlli 57; 5), Kane 7.
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral).