Oliver Skipp steps up to help Tottenham click into gear in ominous sign for top-four rivals

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Any Tottenham win over Chelsea is rare enough to be considered significant but perhaps this one more than usual, as Spurs handled the pressure and increased the heat on a Graham Potter with a comfortable 2-0 victory.

How Antonio Conte would have loved to have been here to see his former club downed but, with the Spurs head coach continuing to recuperate from surgery in Italy, Cristian Stellini maintained his 100 per cent record in the dugout.

Spurs rarely looked under serious pressure, despite the quality in Chelsea’s ranks and their missing players, and when Conte’s returns to work he will be under pressure of his own to maintain this level of performance for the remainder of the season.

For the home fans, just an eighth win over Chelsea in the Premier League era was particularly satisfying because the Blues’ expensively-assembled Galaticos were beaten by second-half goals from two Spurs academy graduates, Oliver Skipp - opening his account for the club - and Harry Kane.

Chelsea travelled to north London as the Premier League’s crisis club, with just two wins from 14 games in all competitions stretching back to the start of November, but there was pressure on Spurs to capitalise on their opponent’s form and consolidate their position in fourth-place, particularly given their dire record in this fixture.

Spurs have tended to crumble at these pressure points this season, leading both Conte and Stellini to question the players’ ability to cope with the relentless heat of the Premier League in recent weeks, so watching from home the head coach would have been proud of the way his side managed the game.

In keeping with last weekend’s win over West Ham by the same scoreline, Spurs impressive raised the tempo after the interval to open the scoring right at the start of the second half, and through the unlikeliest of sources.

Boyhood Spurs fan Skipp crashed a brilliant strike off the underside of the crossbar after beating Joao Felix to Enzo Fernandez’s poor clearance, capping off an excellent display from the 22-year-old.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

A fortnight ago, the loss of Rodrigo Bentancur to a season-ending cruciate ligament rupture looked set to derail Spurs’ stuttering season but the way Skipp has performed at the San Siro and in the derbies against West Ham and Chelsea suggests Spurs have a more than capable understudy.

Kane rounded off the win with the goal his performance deserved, finishing from close-range at the back post after Eric Dier had headed on Heung-min Son’s corner.

The England captain was magnificent throughout, linking Spurs’ midfield and attack and frequently creating dangerous situations with clever switches of play.

It felt telling that Spurs came through this game without Hugo Lloris, Ivan Perisic, Bentancur, Yves Bissouma, Son or new signing Pedro Porro in the starting XI, suggesting their squad is stronger than it has appeared at times this season.

Ben Davies was tidy at left wing-back again, while Richarlison continued up front, with Son a second-half substitute and obviously involved in Kane’s goal.

Spurs face another pressure point mid-week with an FA Cup fifth-round at Sheffield United which they will be expected to win comfortably.

For all Chelsea’s struggles, this win was another small step forward for a side who are gradually turning a corner and are starting to show the resilience, mentality and killer instinct which defined their second half to last season.