With just a brief interlude between our last game and this, it was
perhaps accepted that it would be a much changed team that took the
field against Chelsea and the players who did play in Sevilla, they
looked tired in defeat, but gave a good account of themselves even so.
A quick start by Chelsea was designed to
take advantage of any lapse in Tottenham concentration, but Spurs did
well to keep them out and in the second half came back into it a bit
more to give the champions some nervy moments.
Bridge and Wright-Phillips caused
Tottenham problems as they found space and ran at our defence, but the
number of direct chances on goal were limited. Both sides paraded
a diamond midfield, but Tottenham's point of the diamond - Steed
Malbranque - had a tired game and Tottenham lacked forward impetus to
start with. Ghaly's cross was too strong for the lumbering Mido to
reach in the first ten minutes, while Chelsea got lots of decisions and
free-kicks to put into the Tottenham box. One of which was given
against Ghaly for an innocuous challenge that brought a yellow card from
One cross saw Wright-Phillips provide a
chance for Kalou, but he snatched at his volley and fired it over the
top. Robbo stopped a Carvalho header and then scrambled to keep
out a Drogba header. The little Chelsea winger tried a long range
shot that thudded into the advertising hoardings behind the goal, while
Dawson intercepted a Lampard ball into the six-yard box by chesting the
ball out for a corner and ENO was on his toes to keep Carvalho's far
post effort out low at his post.
In the closing stages of the half, Spurs
started to hold onto possession and knocked the ball about, if not
comfortably, then easier than they had in the early part of the game.
Stalteri knocked the ball forward and Mido and Defoe linked well to work
a cross into the area, which brought out a sliding interception from
Carvalho. Then Jenas popped up to strike a 25 yard shot that
deflected off Terry as it looked as though it might be heading into the
When the teams reappeared for the second
half, it was Tottenham who took the initiative and a four man move made
space on the left for Chimbonda to cross and Ghaly's header back across
the box was met by Mido's head and Cech had to turn in mid-air to push
his effort over the bar. A yard either side of the keeper and with
the ball being headed down would have given Tottenham the lead.
Three minutes later and the miss looked all the more costly.
The situation did not seem threatening
when Carvalho got the ball 40 yards from goal and stepped forward with
it. Even when he shot, you thought Robinson would have it covered,
but Rocha's decision to turn out of the way of the ball at the last
minute left the Spurs keeper with little time to react and the ball
darted past him into the bottom corner of the net to give Chelsea the
lead. It was harsh on Spurs, who might have let Chelsea have a lot
of possession, but the home side had been lacking attacking ideas and
had not produced serious shots on target.
As the game approached the hour mark,
Drogba produced a low shot with a neat turn and Robbo was equal to it as
he kept it out at his post and Kalou was guilty of missing a free header
at the far post. Defoe produced a dipping low shot that Cech could
only fumble, but there was no-one following it in, so only after Taarabt
replaced Taino, did Tottenham step up the pace. The injection of
enthusiasm the French youngster gave Spurs surprised Chelsea.
Makelele tried to introduce himself to Adel, but he fouled him and from
the free-kick, Taarabt found a yard of space and hit his shot from the
edge of the box well, but Cech was agile enough to turn it aside for a
Mido went off looking annoyed at being
substituted, but he had done little and what he had done, he didn't do
properly. Berbatov soon found Terry trying to intimidate him by
shoving him around, but it had little effect on our Bulgarian striker.
Again Taarabt injected some urgency into the team and a corner was won
after neat interplay with Ghaly and Stalteri.
Our best chance of an equaliser came in
the 85th minute, when Zokora's free-kick found Berbatov's head and Cech
was once more in the right position to save. It looked like Spurs
might go two down when Ghaly put a clearance straight up into the air
and Drogba tried an overhead kick, but was off target this time, while
at the other end Berbatov laid back Ghaly's pass into the path of
Taarabt, who hit a shot from 25 yards out that flew wide of the goal.
Tottenham were striving to get something
from the game and Malbranque's attempt at an overhead kick from Berba's
head down went harmlessly wide. Luckily, Rocha was alert in the
closing stages to intervene to stop Drogba getting a shot on goal and
although he might have been at fault for not blocking the shot for the
goal, he did get in a couple of timely tackles in the area after that.
At the end of the game, it looked as
though Chelsea were desperate for the final whistle, as Cole dragged
down Zokora as it looked like he might break away and was booked and as
Spurs tried to take the free-kick, Drogba kicked the ball away,
incurring a yellow from the ref too. it came to nothing and then
the end of the game came and Chelsea had achieved their objective in
their usual mechanical style.
The atmosphere at their ground was dead.
The persistent chants of "Spurs are going to Glasgow" drowned out any
attempts at songs from the blue hordes, who seemed to have only "3-1 and
you cocked it up" in their repertoire. Personally, I would rather
watch Man U than Chelsea any day. They are much more attack minded
and more of a fluent side, rather than the dour faceless side that
Chelsea are for most of the games they play. For that reason I
hope United win the title and that both teams get to the FA Cup final,
so that it will leave seventh place in the league available as a UEFA
Cup place. Selfish ? Yeah, why not ??