Carlo Ancelotti said there comes a moment when you either have to 'die or improve' and for Chelsea here on Sunday it arrived in the 15th minute. That was when Roman Pavlyuchenko punished them for a moment's loss of concentration with one brilliant touch and a super finish.
Chelsea's season could have gone one of two ways then. Ancelotti had spoken of 'destiny' when looking ahead to this absorbing game and the two that follow, at home to Manchester United and at Arsenal, and defeat here might have sent his side down a certain path.
Heurelho's howler No 1: Gomes pushes Drogba's shot up in the air, but it spins back into the goal
But, after the club's worst run inthe Barclays Premier League in more than 10 years, a run in which theyhad taken five points from six games, they finally responded in themanner we have come to expect from the English champions.
Chelsea skipper John Terry buoyed by dominant display against TottenhamThis was much better from Chelsea and in the end they were left to reflect on an opportunity squandered to win the match.
Didier Drogba had the chance insecond-half stoppage time after Heurelho Gomes flattened Ramires andleft Mike Dean with no option but to point to the penalty spot. Gomestook half a step to the right and so invited Drogba to opt for theother side, only to then dive in that direction and save.
Ancelotti nevertheless chose tofocus on the positives. His side, he suggested, would leave White HartLane with much of their confidence restored.
Heurelho howler No 2: Gomes bundles over Ramires to gift Chelsea a penalty in injury time
'I think the bad spell is behindus,' said Chelsea's manager, having already heard John Terry declarethat the real Chelsea had returned. The good news for them was thatFrank Lampard had returned, too. In fact, it was only with regard toDrogba that Ancelotti still appeared to have a problem. It was a boldmove to start him on the bench, and one that seemed to anger theIvorian striker even if his form has been poor.
MATCH FACTS TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (4-4-2): Gomes 5; Hutton 6, Dawson 7, Bassong 7, Assou- Ekotto 6; Lennon 6, Palacios 6 (Sandro 89min), Modric 6, Bale 6; Defoe 6 (Crouch 60, 5), Pavlyuchenko 7 (Keane 78). Subs not used: Cudicini, Corluka, Bentley, Dos Santos. Booked: Assou-Ekotto. Scorer: Pavlyuchenko 15.
CHELSEA (4-3-2-1): Cech 6; Ferreira 5, Ivanovic 7, Terry 8, Cole 6; Ramires 6, Mikel 5 (Drogba 46, 6), Essien 7; Kalou 6 (Sturridge 68, 4), Malouda 6 (Lampard 78); Anelka 6. Subs not used: Turnbull, Van Aanholt, Bruma, McEachran. Booked: Essien, Drogba. Scorer: Drogba 70.
Man of the match: John Terry.
Referee: Mike Dean 6.
When Ancelotti asked him to startwarming up at the end of the first half, he threw something of atantrum. If he did not seem terribly happy with his manager, he did notappear too enamoured with Chelsea's travelling supporters either. Somefans had turned on him when he urged them to get behind the team duringthe 1-1 draw against Everton and he followed his slightly fortuitous70th-minute equaliser by strutting past them here with a bit ofeyeballing.
Who knows how he might have reactedhad he then scored the winner? Not that Chelsea deserved to take allthree points, not when a Tottenham side who continue to impress underHarry Redknapp proved themselves worthy contenders in this mostintriguing of title races.
This was a fierce, full throttlecontest; a breathless, relentless battle between two attacking teamswho demanded the best of their more defensive opponents.
While Terry probably edged it forthe man-of-the-match award with an inspirational performance, MichaelDawson ran him close with a display that was all the more impressivefor the fact that it was his first start since September.
The rest of Tottenham's back fourwere superb also, while Wilson Palacios had one of his better games forSpurs alongside the marvellous Luka Modric . They put Michael Essienand John Mikel Obi under pressure before Ancelotti sent on Drogba forMikel and switched to a 4-4-2 formation that matched the home team's.
Roman conquers: Tottenham striker Pavlyuchenko (far left) breaks the deadlock
Attacking on the flanks throughAaron Lennon and Gareth Bale was an approach that worked well forRedknapp's side and they were good value for the advantage theyestablished.
It was created by a terrific ballfrom Jermain Defoe to Pavlyuchenko, aided by the fact that BranislavIvanovic had been lured out wide and completed when the Russia strikerused one touch to take the ball away from Terry before unleashing aleft-foot shot that Petr Cech perhaps should have saved.
Chelsea were enjoying plenty of theball but lacked penetration without Drogba and Lampard. They had towait until the 70th minute for the breakthrough after Drogba had beenintroduced.
Show us your trophies: Terry goads the home fans and spits in their direction (right)
He took advantage of Dean's failureto spot his use of an arm to control Cech's long ball and a majorblunder by Gomes, who got both hands to the shot Drogba unleashed afterseeing off the challenge of Dawson, yet allowed the ball to spin offhis gloves, over his head and bounce across the line. What wasAncelotti saying about the lucky break not coming from 'heaven'?
The problems would continue forGomes, the penalty he then conceded adding to his embarrassment. But hemade amends in some style, producing the save that reminded Redknappwhy he now regards him as one of the finest goalkeepers in the league.
Should Lampard have taken it?Because of a lack of match practice, Ancelotti said no. But it wouldhave been quite a story had Lampard marked his return with a goal thatwould have ended a run that now stands at one win in seven.
In the hot seat: Ancelotti (black coat) looks concerned as his team try to come from behind
It might have even dissuaded Terryfrom clashing with the same Tottenham fans who had so abused him. Ifnothing else it proved that, in Chelsea, there is still plenty of fight.
Chelsea skipper John Terry buoyed by dominant display against TottenhamAll of the drama of Sunday's Barclays Premier League action - as it unfolded Marseille admit bid for Drogba and bid to beat Liverpool in Fanni pursuitTottenham director Sir Keith asked to take charge at the FA as Dein waits onTOTTENHAM HOTSPUR FC