The two London giants share the spoils but lose ground on league leaders Manchester City after an entertaining match which saw numerous missed chances and some fantastic saves
The result means Spurs can justifiably claim to be London's top club at Christmas, but both sides will be disappointed by a result which sees them lose ground on leaders Manchester City.
With three points, bragging rights and the title of the capital’s top club at Christmas up for grabs, both Harry Redknapp and Andre Villas-Boas fielded strong, attacking lineups.
The Spurs manager largely stuck with the same team which saw off a stubborn Sunderland on Sunday, but flying winger Gareth Bale was recalled after passing a late fitness test, replacing the injured Aaron Lennon.
The Blues boss, meanwhile, made two changes to the team which slipped to a lacklustre draw away at Wigan on Saturday, with Jon Obi Mikel and Ramires preferred to Oriol Romeu and Frank Lampard.
John Terry, however, captained the side once again in spite of injury concerns and Wednesday’s news he will face prosecution over allegations he racially abused QPR defender Anton Ferdinand during a Premier League clash back in October.
Spurs started at the frenetic pace for which they are both famed and feared at White Hart Lane, and dominated the early exchanges.
Bale showed no ill effects from the sprained ankle which kept him out of the Sunderland clash with a surging diagonal run in from the left flank. The Welshman was rampant as the visitors struggled to gain any sort of a foothold, and his next contribution broke the deadlock.
A flying run down the left side saw him ease past a toiling Jose Bosingwa before crossing low into the box, where an onrushing Emmanuel Adebayor peeled away from Terry and beat a timid Petr Cech to the ball to slot home.
Stung by this early setback, Chelsea immediately looked to strike back. A firmly hit long-range drive from Juan Mata warmed the palms of Brad Friedel, but Daniel Sturridge blazed the rebound over the bar from a promising position.
Spurs were no longer exerting total control over the midfield, and it didn’t take long for a resurgent Chelsea to level the match.
A deflected Drogba flick was gathered in by Ashley Cole in an advanced position on the left-hand side, and the England international’s cross found Sturridge unmarked at the back post to volley the ball beyond a helpless Friedel.
There was controversy as Spurs felt Cole should have been penalised for an accidental handball in the build-up to the goal, but referee Howard Webb waved away the home side’s protests.
The momentum was now very much with Chelsea, and the west Londoners came within inches of taking the lead with their next meaningful attack.
Bosingwa’s high looping cross found Drogba at the far post, and the Ivorian’s venomous left-footed strike crashed off the post with Friedel well beaten.
More bad luck was to follow for Villas-Boas’ men, as first Branislav Ivanovic and then Jon Obi Mikel had to be replaced after sustaining injuries. In the ensuing tactical re-shuffle, Bosingwa slotted in alongside Terry in the heart of the Chelsea defence.
Spurs sought to re-assert their dominance, but a tame Adebayor effort was the clearest chance they could muster, and both sides went into the break on level terms.
Christmas cracker | Adebayor gives Spurs the lead in an enthralling encounter
Redknapp introduced Sunday’s hero Roman Pavlyuchenko in place of the quiet Rafael Van der Vaart in a bid to give his side more of a presence up front, but it was Chelsea who began the second period with greater purpose – Drogba, Raul Meireles and Sturridge all firing over from range.
Chelsea were dominating the midfield battle, and Spurs were struggling to fight off the blue tide. A clever Drogba reverse pass put Ramires through on goal, but the Brazilian was denied brilliantly by a flying Friedel. From the resulting corner, the American veteran was again called into action to stop Terry’s near post header.
The home crowd were trying to inspire their team through sheer noise and force of will, and the response was impressive. First Adebayor had the ball in the net only to be denied by the referee’s whistle, and then the Togolese striker headed a dangerous Walker cross just wide.
But the visitors still looked dangerous on the counter, with Sturridge in particular looking the greatest threat. The former Manchester City striker cut inside from the right once more, but his low shot was saved fairly comfortably by Friedel.
The closing stages may have been looming, but neither side appeared willing to settle for a draw.
Spurs initially looked likeliest to grab the winner. First, Bale blazed over on the edge of the box, then Sandro’s deflected effort had Cech at full stretch before Gallas bundled a near post effort from a corner just wide.
Chelsea, however, also had their chances. Ramires headed wide when found unmarked by Mata’s pinpoint free-kick delivery, before substitute Oriol Romeu had Friedel scrambling with a low drive.
Adebayor was denied brilliantly by Cech at the death, but both sides were destined to share the spoils.