Dubai: Sunday night may go down in history as the moment when the apprentice truly took over from the master.
Frank Lampard’s Chelsea dazzled and delighted with their attacking play en route to a comfortable 2-0 win at London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
Jose Mourinho — summoned to rescue Spurs’ season after the dismissal of Mauricio Pochettino in November — was powerless to prevent the home loss as the men in white looked out of their depth and out of touch at the top of the league.
The result was much more than just three points, with Chelsea now looking like London’s dominant force once again.
They are now six points clear of Sheffield United, who occupy fifth spot, ahead of Wolves and the Spurs.
The confidence oozing out of this Chelsea side at times means we probably now have our top four for the end of the season.
Champions-elect Liverpool are 10 points clear at the top and Manchester City and Leicester City will most likely be fighting it out for second.
Lampard now has the luxury of looking up the table rather than over his shoulder.
With Liverpool taking on the Foxes on Boxing Day, Chelsea have the chance to cut the gap on those above them when they take on Southampton on the same day.
While Chelsea’s play was a thing of beauty, two ugly incidents marred the night.
Firstly Son Heung-Min was sent off for a nasty kick to Antonio Rudiger’s chest midway through the second half. With the visitors already leading 2-0, it was an act of petulance and frustration that should land the Korean a hefty and deserved suspension.
But what came next was the real dark cloud.
Rudiger was racially abused by a section of the crowd following Son’s red card.
Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta said Rudiger had reported hearing “monkey noises” from the crowd, which led to a delay as referee Anthony Taylor halted the game and spoke to both Lampard and Mourinho on the touchline.
Shortly after the stoppage, an announcement made over the public address system warned that “racist behaviour among spectators is interfering with the game”. Two further public address announcements followed after play was resumed.
“It’s just such a shame that racism still exists in 2019. When will this nonsense stop?” Rudiger tweeted.
“I really hope that the offenders will be found and punished soon, and in such a modern football ground like the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with dozens of TV and security cameras, it must be possible to find and subsequently punish them.
“If not, then there must have been witnesses in the stadium who saw and heard the incident.”
The PFA said in a statement late Sunday: “We are disgusted and dismayed that once again, a Premier League fixture has been tainted by abuse from the stands towards players.
“It has become clear that football players are on the receiving end of the blatant racism that is currently rife in the UK, but they are not alone.
“Racist abuse in football is not just an issue for black and ethnic minority players, it is an issue for everyone who loves the game.
“The PFA calls for a government inquiry into racism and the rise in hate crime within football.”
Given the vast majority of Tottenham fans on social media are condemning the incident, it will surely only be a matter of time before the individuals involved are identified.
But the sad fact is that it will only be a matter of time until the next episode of vile behaviour. While many proposals have been suggested to eradicate racism, society as a whole needs to take action against it, not just the football clubs.