Tottenham host Chelsea in the Premier League this afternoon and it’s fair to say there is no love lost between the two sides.
This weekend will mark the 170th meeting between these two London sides, with Chelsea claiming the bragging right.
The Blues have won 73 times compared to their cross-city rivals’ 55, with 41 draws altogether.
Although not all those draws are memorable, one stands out from the other in previous meetings.
The 2-2 draw on May 2, 2016 doesn’t appear remarkable at first glance. Spurs went up 2-0 at halftime with Heung-min Son and Harry Kane, before Chelsea rallied after the break through Gary Cahill (and Eden Hazard).
But there is a good reason the occasion was dubbed “The Battle of the Bridge”.
Coming into the match at the back end of the 2015/16 season, only one side had something to play for.
Chelsea finished 10th after their implosion in the first season under Jose Mourinho. With three remaining matches, Tottenham was second, eight points behind leaders Leicester City.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side had to win to keep their slim hopes of winning their first Premier League title – and first top-flight title since 1961 – alive.
The trophy would be handed to Leicester who failed to win the title the day before at Old Trafford, where they were held to a 1-1 draw against Manchester United.
Although the Blues may not have required a win to improve their league position, they did need it for pride and to keep their home record against Spurs.
Tottenham had not won at Stamford Bridge since 1996. And they weren’t going to give up on that chance.
Spurs were fired up for the occasion and it definitely showed. The aggression stakes were high, and Mousa Dembele was the leader.
Cesc Fabregas and John Obi Mikel clashed with the Belgian midfielder just minutes into the match, while Danny Rose joined in with a late challenge against Willian.
Kane and Son fired them into the lead, but that didn’t slow down the needle off the ball.
Diego Costa was not one to shy away from a fight. He fought Jan Vertonghen before the match kicked off after Rose and Willian had joined forces.
Pochettino and coaching staff from either side piled onto the pitch to try and separate the two and a full-blown melee kicked off, with Dembele putting his fingers into Costa’s eyes.
VAR could have been a wild game, but Mark Clattenburg only gave out yellow cards.
In the second half, Erik Lamela went through Fabregas before Hazard scored from a corner.
With Spurs’ title challenge dead, they went into overdrive in injury-time.
What are your thoughts on The Battle of the Bridge, and what do you remember? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Kyle Walker flicked some snot at Costa, Kane chopped Willian with a poor tackle, Dembele continued his antics, Eric Dier escaped a red for a terrible challenge on Fabregas and Ryan Mason came off the bench to go through the back of Hazard.
But it wasn’t over. Michel Vorm, Vertonghen, and Michel Vorm disagreed with Costa. Rose was also in the thick of it as the handbags came out close to the tunnel.
The chaos saw Tottenham pick up a Premier League record nine yellow tickets, while Chelsea was handed three. Costa was, by some miracles, not among those involved in the melee.
Dembele was later suspended for six matches due to violent conduct. But, Spurs were not guilty.
There was no miracle behind the lack of a red card in one of the dirtiest games in Premier League history, just Mark Clattenburg.
Clattenburg, a self-described celebrity referee, completely failed to manage the game, allowing players to engage in push and shove, misbehave, and other mischievous actions.
As it turned out, it was all part of Clattenburg’s hair-brained scheme to encourage drama.
“It was theatre. I went in with a game plan – that I didn’t want Tottenham blaming Mark Clattenburg that they were going to lose the title,” he told the Men In Blazers podcast in 2017.
“There should have been three red cards for Tottenham. I allowed them to self-destruct.
“All the media and people worldwide declared, “Tottenham has lost the title”. What headlines would you create if I sent three players away? “Clattenburg cost Tottenham their title”
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“It was pure theatre that they self-destructed.”
He added: “I helped the game. It benefited from my style of refereeing. Some referees would have played by the book and Tottenham would have been down to seven or eight players and looking for an excuse.
“I didn’t give them an excuse because my game plan was to let them lose the title.”
Fabregas copped more than his fair share of bad tackles and skullduggery from Tottenham players that day, but, in his eyes, it was all worth it.
The Spanish midfielder appeared on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football programme before the match where he was asked if there might be another twist in the title race.
“Hopefully not,” The ex-Arsenal man responded, “deadpan.” “I don’t want Spurs to win it.”
Fabregas was successful and has continued to eat at the restaurant ever since.
“Today 4 years ago we won the Premier League,” he tweeted on May 2, 2020 before following it with another saying, “For Leicester City”.
“Winning a derby can feel close to winning a trophy and it was like this when I won the Battle of the Bridge with Chelsea,” Fabregas explained for The Telegraph in June.
“Even though we had not won the game, drawing and stopping Tottenham winning the title felt similar to a trophy and I remember I went out to celebrate after the game, like I would have if we had just won the league or a cup.
“It was just one of those moments you wanted to enjoy.”
Fabregas wasn’t the only one partying after the draw: everyone associated with Leicester City was doing the same.
Jamie Vardy, a striker for Leicester City, invited his entire first team squad to his home in Melton Mowbray so they could watch the final game that would determine the Foxes’ champions.
Leicester’s players gathered in the kitchen with beers and spirits for the occasion and once Clattenburg’s whistle blew all hell broke loose.
The Athletic reported that Vardy’s television got smashed, while Wes Morgan found himself on his back being dragged around the floor by Marcin Wasilewski.
“We all had a cry,” Robert Huth spoke to the outlet. “There were certainly a few drinks. A few cigarettes as well. Certainly, it was a good time to be alive.”
After the excitement had ended, the rest of the Leicester staff and players arrived.