Age no barrier for Eto'o as Chelsea rout Spurs
Samuel Eto'o set Chelsea on their way to a ruthless 4-0 victory over 10-man Tottenham that moved Jose Mourinho's side seven points clear at the top of the Premier League on Saturday.
Eto'o, who had been drafted into the starting line-up at the last minute after Fernando Torres was injured in the warm-up, capitalised on Jan Vertonghen's poor back pass to break the deadlock in the second half before drawing a foul from Younes Kaboul that allowed Eden Hazard to score from the penalty spot and earned the Spurs defender a red card.
It was a sweet moment for the Cameroon star, who celebrated his goal by putting his left hand on his back and stooping to mimmick old age before holding the corner flag like a walking stick in a mocking reference to Mourinho's recent claim that Eto'o may actually be older than 32.
Demba Ba then wrapped up the victory with two goals in the final two minutes of normal time, capitalising on two more defensive errors at Stamford Bridge.
With none of their top four rivals involved in league action this weekend, Chelsea took advantage to consolidate their position.
They now sit seven points clear of Liverpool and Arsenal, who have one game in hand on the leaders, and nine points ahead of Manchester City, who have played three games less than Chelsea.
For Tottenham, this defeat came as a harsh blow to their chances of closing the gap on the top four.
While Mourinho has been reluctant to declare his side to be title contenders, he may find it harder to keep Chelsea from dreaming of another English league crown after winning this game.
Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood knew his side could not afford to lose if they were to retain ambitions of breaking into the top four.
And he responded by springing a major surprise when the starting line-ups were announced.
Sherwood opted for four changes to the line-up that started in last week's victory over Cardiff and shifted a number of key personnel into unfamiliar roles.
Aaron Lennon was moved in from the right flank to operate in a central role behind lone striker Emmanuel Adebayor while regular right-back Kyle Walker was pushed forward into midfield.
Initially though, the changes seemed only to unsettle Tottenham with the visitors' back-line appearing vulnerable to Chelsea's direct attacking moves.
And Sherwood's side would have found themselves behind after just four minutes had Hazard not been uncharacteristically wasteful after being sent beyond Younes Kaboul by Eto'o's pass.
The Belgium winger rounded keeper Hugo Lloris but shot into the side netting after being pushed wide by the recovering Kaboul.
Nabil Bentaleb was guilty of failing to make the most of a good opportunity following Adebayor's flick on -- the Algeria international shot wide instead of squaring to waiting team-mates -- while Chelsea keeper Petr Cech reacted well to save from Sandro.
Just as they had against Fulham last week, Chelsea appeared stuttering and disjointed during the first half and it was no surprise when Mourinho made a change at the break, with Oscar appearing in place of Frank Lampard.
Seven days previously at Craven Cottage, Andre Schurrle had turned things around with a second half hat-trick.
The Germany international once again had the chance to turn the game in his side's direction shortly after the restart but he scuffed a clear shot wide.
Eto'o finally got his chance when Vertonghen slipped and sent a back-pass into the forward's path, which the former Barcelona forward finished well.
Three minutes later Kaboul pushed Eto'o and Hazard converted from the spot after the defender had been sent off.
Then Ba stepped off the bench to score twice after first Zeki Fryers and then Walker made sloppy mistakes to give the forward a pair of routine finishes.