Another disappointing return from Stamford Bridge, but one which had a
bit more optimism than usual, as, even though both sides were shorn of
some of their regulars and Berbatov decided to put in a less than
committed performance, there were signs that we are not too far off the
top sides. Having said that, we are still no nearer beating them
at the moment. 0-2 might be a bit harsh, as Chelsea scored their
second just when we looked like getting back into the match, but, much
as the way things have gone this season, it always goes against us when
we least expect it.
surprise of leaving Robinson on the bench yet again, Ramos' decision
looked solid, as Cerny made a couple of good saves and had little
opportunity to save either goal. I have a feeling Juande might
bring Robinson back in on Tuesday, having let him stew on the sidelines
and he might be more up for it. Competition for places is no bad
thing and Robinson might actually benefit from it.
The early exchanges saw defenders
stopping any progress at either end, then, when Spurs did earn a corner,
Carvalho cleared easily at the near post. When the same happened at the
other end, with King knocking a cross away, Belletti got the ball miles
out and hit a screamer that ripped past Cerny into the top corner.
Goal of the Month ?? You bet !! Why is it always us ??
In one blink of an eye in 18 minutes,
Spurs were suddenly behind when they looked in little danger up to that
But then, in an instant, we could have
been level, had Berbatov got a better touch to Lennon's cross.
Kevin-Prince Boateng is finding it hard to settle into the English game
and he hauled down Joe Cole to earn a yellow card, as the first of all
four of our midfielders got booked in the match. This is a bit
surprising, as this was the area we lost the game in, with Chelsea
over-running our reformed engine room and also as none of our
midfielders got close to Belletti for the goal, whereas every time they
got near a blue shirt after that a yellow card came out. In the
second half, Malbranque had to be taken off before he got sent off after
a couple of incidents just after he got booked !!
With half an hour on the clock, Spurs had
another good chance, which brought a good save from Cech. Lennon
picked out Steed with a cross and 12 yards out, he hit a volley that
Cech did well to dive and push aside. Things might have got worse
nearer half-time, as Ballack put a loose ball past Cerny, but luckily
for Tottenham, the linesman's offside flag ruled him offside.
This allowed us to turn around one goal
down, but still in the game, although not looking like we were that
threatening. I am not sure if it is just me, but on Wednesday and
today too, there seemed to be a lack of passion. Maybe it is our
record against the two sides, so the feeling that we are likely to get
anything out of the game is diminished or whether the games against
London sides are just other games now, rather than the fiercely
contested London derbies of my youth.
Whatever it was, the game meandered on.
Anelka came on to take the field as Chelsea's latest multi-million pound
purchase and he is apparently now the most expensive player in the
history of the game. Can you believe that ? What would Pele
be worth ??? Or Greavsie ??
Anyway, he almost paid back some of his
transfer fee straight away, as he took Wright-Phillips' back-heel,
turned sharply and struck a left foot shot that was destined to end up
inside the right hand post of Cerny's goal until the Czech keeper dived
to palm the ball wide. I was a very good save.
With twenty minutes left, Spurs almost
got back into it. Lennon weaved his way across the face of the
penalty box and Ballack hastily upended him right inside the D.
Wiley's decision was a booking and a free-kick, not a penalty.
Berbatov claimed it and curled it over the wall, but around the post
too, as he was probably a little too close to score from it.
Ten minutes later, Keane nearly got on
the end of a Boateng first-time cross that beat Alex (according to the
ref, who did not give a corner), but bounced beyond Robbie. Then,
from the goal-kick, Chelsea got a right wing throw, which found it's way
to Joe Cole and his ball inside to Wright-Phillips on the edge of the
area was a little short. As Ledley slid in to block the little
winger, he got there first and struck his shot through the Spurs
captain's legs and with enough power to beat Cerny's dive.
It was a blow, as Spurs had been looking
the side more likely to score in the previous ten minutes and once more
we were punished by the taking of a half-chance. Like so many
other matches, the scorer then showed his true form by poking a shot
well wide from a central position when he should have easily beaten the
We were spared an embarrassing third,
when Anelka seized on Dawson's slip in the area and hit a shot that
bounced down off the underside of the bar and out, rather than in.
There was one last opportunity for Tottenham, when Taarabt's free-kick
was woefully headed wide by Defoe in injury time, and just afterwards,
Joe Cole poked a 20 yard shot on target, which Cerny did well to push
No bus parked in front of the goal, but
an attacking effort, although, with a depleted midfield, it was always
going to be a big ask. Maybe the score-lines are not showing the
improvement, but one day we will make that breakthrough against the top
four. And when we do, it might release some of the psychological
tension in these games, which might be replacing the passion.