|DATE||Saturday 20th October 2012|
|VENUE||White Hart Lane|
Chelsea visit Spurs as league leaders, having made a large number of
signings in the summer and playing a supposedly new attacking style.
The strength in their side at the moment is the midfield which contains a surfeit of talented players who have come in during the last window, with Eden Hazard, Oscar and Mark Marin all added to that part of their team. Hazard is very skilful and looks as good a scorer as he is a creator, with Oscar more lightly built, but an astute runner with the ball and another who can finish from a variety of positions. Marin is yet to make an impact but he is a smaller wide midfielder, who can fire in fierce shots from distance.
With another new signing Victor Moses likely to start form the bench, his tricky wing play ahs been added to by a couple of goals and Juan Mata will also be looking to start in a midfield which contains movement and clever passing. They are more than capable of creating chances for what is likely to be a lone striker in Fernando Torres, who is in form and looks a bit more like the player who played for Liverpool. Should he not make the breakthrough, Roberto Di Matteo might call on Daniel Sturridge from the bench to add some power to the attack. He is a goal-scorer in a different mould to Torres, so it will be interesting to see how the new Spurs defence deals with them.
The Chelsea defence will be asked some questions and with John Terry having been asked more than most on and off the field this season, it is a shame he will not be playing as he serves his four match ban for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand. His form has been poor and he looks like a player on the way out, so his absence is a blessing for Chelsea. However, with his replacement being David Luiz, he is a good attacking player, but not one who excels in defence. Aaron Lennon often poses challenges for Ashley Cole, who has trouble keeping up with the flying winger and with Gareth Bale on the other flank, Ferreira or Azpilicueta may have a day twisting and turning to find their man. Gary Cahill will be a towering presence in the middle of the back four, but as we found out last year when he fluffed an attempted dribble in his own half, he can be found out ... especially by pace.
The important thing for Spurs is to test Petr Cech. We have been making chances and then spurning them and this cannot go on. Cech is still capable of making outstanding saves, but he is not the keeper he was and by making him work with shots on target, he will not be up to all of the efforts and may well spill one or not get to another.
Chelsea's style could suit Spurs, with the counter-attacking style suited to hitting them on the break at pace, but Tottenham need to make sure that they do not allow the visitors too much possession, as they did with QPR. Possession and tempo could push Chelsea back from the start and take pressure off our defence and defensive midfielders. Chelsea might find it more difficult to get through the middle of the team and AVB will have a working knowledge of the players if not the exact system they will play.
Obviously, he has a score to settle, but the more meaningful score will be the one at the end of the game. Let's treat it as just another game and the rest will come from that.
Chelsea will be up for it and even though Terry will not be playing, he will gee up his colleagues before they go out and it will be tough, as they are playing well at the moment, so a draw would be a result that sees the two sides closely matched.
|PREDICTION||Tottenham Hotspur 1 Chelsea 1|
|Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.|
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Spurs are still without Scott Parker (Achilles) and Younes Kaboul (knee), but will possibly have Kyle Naughton and Jake Livermore available for selection again. Benoit Assou-Ekotto is expected to return to training next week and will not be ready for this match.
CHELSEA TEAM NEWS :
John Terry's ban for using racist comments rules him out for this match unfortunately, with Frank Lampard and Ryan Bertrand also doubtful with a calf injury and a virus respectively. Daniel Sturridge could be back in line for a start and
available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard
in these countries on these stations ...
2 (0) Chelsea 4 (1)
Saturday 20th October 2012 Kick off 12:45
White Hart Lane
Huddlestone (foul on Mata) 37
Gallas (foul on Torres) 40
Walker (foul on Ramires) 45+1
Ivanovic (simulation) 25
Ramires (foul on Lennon) 46
|Crowd : 36,060||Weather : Dry, bright|
|Referee : Mike Dean (-)||Assistant Referees : - (-)|
|Fourth Official : -||-|
|Tottenham kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||Chelsea :||kit|
18 Jermain DEFOE
12 Jon Obi
10 Juan MATA
|Manager : Andre Villas-Boas||Manager : Roberto Di Matteo|
|Sponsor : Aurasma||Shirt sponsor : Samsung|
|Kit Supplier : Under Armour||Kit Supplier : adidas|
While Chelsea ran out 4-2 winners in this match and a win was deserved, the difference between the game was not two goals and Spurs were the architects of their own destiny to a certain extent.
Having lost Mousa Dembele in mid-week to a hip injury and then to be without Gareth Bale on the morning of the match as he rushed to be with his partner as she was giving birth to their first child, Tottenham had to cobble together a team that saw the two players replaced by Tom Huddlestone, who played alongside Sandro and Gylfi Sigurdsson, who played in the three behind Defoe, but in the first half, his role was less than clear. This left the twin wing approach confounded and with a more compact midfield, Spurs struggled in the first half to free Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe.
Chelsea had a more effective closing down game and this meant because of this and the lack of movement of the Spurs players, that they were forced to play the ball back to Brad Friedel too often and his long kicks were more often won by Luiz or Cahill and the ball came straight back. In fact, Tottenham's passing wasn't all that great today, conceding possession too often. This heaped pressure on the back four and the two in front of them, plus made it tough for the three attacking midfielders, who had to spend long periods of the first half chasing the ball.
It meant that there was uncertainty at the back and when William Gallas conceded a needless corner, heading out when there was nobody behind him, but you assume he didn't get a call, it lead to the first Chelsea goal. A long corner from the Spurs left by Hazard was headed back across goal to the centre of the box about 15 yards out, where Gary Cahill met it with a thunderous volley that ripped past a static Friedel. It was another example of the Ba goal at Newcastle, where we conceded one that might well be a Goal of the Month winner. However, that should not detract that it was a poor header from Gallas.
The Spurs captain could have made a different impact on the game, with a third minute free-kick from Sigurdsson finding him on the edge of the six yard box in space, but the defender was not able to turn to get a decent contact and get his effort on target. Then Oscar shot wide and Sandro shot over, before the goal. Straight after it, Defoe broke forward and with Vertonghen well placed to his left, the striker chose to go alone and fire a shot that Cech could not hold, but was hacked away before Clint Dempsey could get onto it. Then Tom Huddlestone let go a free kick from 30 yards that was blocked by Oscar.
The next chance fell to Spurs too, with Lennon's dinked ball into the box falling for Sigurdsson to shoot from just inside the area, but his effort went narrowly wide. At the other end, Chelsea were moving well and Torres made a neat move on the right, tricking his way to the line to pull the ball back, but there were no blue shirts in the box to get on the end of it. However, when they did set up a chance for Mata on the edge of the D to shoot, Friedel got down well to beat the ball out, but he could only push it straight back out in front of him and Mata then reacted quickest, but did not control his shot that rose over the crossbar. But Brad's counterpart in the Chelsea goal was looking less than safe, with Cech losing his grip on a low cross from Sigurdsson and the loose ball was hacked clear as Dempsey closed in.
In contrast to Chelsea's good fortune when they scored, our American striker was frustrated when, after having a shot deflected wide, the corner came out to him as Vertonghen ran onto it on the edge of the box and his shot was blocked by Mikel, but must have been so hard, it knocked Luiz to the floor ten yards behind the Brazilian midfielder, leaving him needing treatment to his head. Or perhaps he had a hair out of place. Spurs had just got a free-kick, which Chelsea managed to waste time and the whistle blew before it could be played into the box to signal half-time. Not the boos that had been for the Spurs team in some previous games, but for the referee this time for stopping the game when Spurs had a chance of putting the ball into the box. But then we rarely score from set pieces anyway, so perhaps it wasn't too much of a denial.
The free-kick had been given for a cynical foul by Ramires on Lennon, when the Chelsea player could not catch out winger, but the punishment of a yellow card counts for the same as Ivanovic's dive and Walker's attempt for the ball that caught the offender on Lennon. The old system of points for the misdemeanour in question did at least weight the severity of the offence and then when a certain points total was reached it triggered a suspension. This way leaves a time-wasting offence equally as bad as dangerous play. And even without Terry in their side, the ill-discipline that taints anything this team does runs through the side. From Torres' sarcastic clapping of a lineman who didn't give him a penalty (which went on for almost a minute while play was at the other end) to Ashley Cole's regular show of disdain for officials when he didn't get a penalty and he threw his arms around in a massive strop in front of the referee. Respect earns respect. Chelsea have little of that among a proportion of the football going public.
A sad moment came at half-time when praise was given to the recently departed Milija Alecksic, with Tony Galvin and Paul Miller paying tribute to the ex-Spurs keeper who died earlier this week. This was followed by an appearance by David Ginola, who put in his usual flamboyant turn, running the show by taking the microphone and saying all the right things to get the Spurs fans applauding.
Then the teams came out for the second half, with no changes, but with Spurs obviously having had a rousing half-time team talk. Snapping into tackles and moving the ball at pace, including getting Aaron Lennon into the game more, all added to causing Chelsea's midfield problems. It paid off in the second minute of the second half, when a Huddlestone free-kick from the right was hooked back into the six yard box by Vertonghen and Gallas was unmarked on the line to get his first Spurs goal. It looked like he had headed it over the line from an inch out, but on replay, there seemed to be less contact with his head, but his hand might have had the last touch as the ball went down the front of him. Still, it counted and Spurs were back in the game.
Anyway, back to the game and the initiative had swung Tottenham's way and the pressure built on the Chelsea goal. Sigurdsson had moved wide left and he seemed to be better suited there, with a chance to hit a volley at goal that struck Cahill and then picking the ball up in the left hand corner of the box, cut inside Ivanovic and smacked a low shot that Cech took low on the ground. Next up from that side was Vertonghen, who got a shot when a ball rebounded to him and he hit the ball powerfully with good aim and Cech was called on to hold the ball in his stomach as Spurs players looked for a fumble.
It wasn't long before Tottenham scored again ... about 30 seconds after Jan's shot to be precise. Lennon's pace was scaring the left side of the Chelsea defence and he cut inside just outside the corner of the area and hit a shot-cum cross low into the goalmouth. He didn't catch it cleanly, but it ran into an area that Jermain Defoe seized on and he got across the front of Cahill to turn the ball in past Cech at the near post. The crowd went mad at this turnaround in fortunes.
The tempo that Spurs had stepped up to at the start of the second period, even without Gareth Bale, meant that Chelsea were unable to live with it. Sandro tested Cech again, with a shot straight at him, however, it proved difficult to maintain the threat and Chelsea eventually used the passing skills of their midfield to open Spurs up. And the equaliser came on 66 minutes. Oscar got away down the right and while Gallas stopped the cross reaching the danger area, he could only clear it straight to Mata on the edge of the box who drilled it back first time and the ball went past Friedel, who either didn't have a clear view or didn't have time to react, as he was stock-still as the ball hit the net.
Mikel went through the back of Defoe without punishment and the Spurs striker immediately hit a dipping half volley from 25 yards out that Cech had to push wide, but soon after Chelsea were ahead, with Mata scoring again. The Spurs defence were caught out by some sharp passing and Gallas caught square on by Oscar's pass as Mata drifted past him to take the ball and shoot past Brad into the near side of his goal.
A similar move almost saw Mata in for a hat-trick, as he had to go a bit closer to the dead ball line and attempted to scoop the ball over Friedel from close range, but he is a very tall man and took the ball easily. Spurs made a change with just over 15 minutes left, introducing Adebayor for Dempsey and his flick on found Sigurdsson in the box. he kept the ball up in the air with a couple of touches and then powered a shot goal-wards, but it lacked aim and went over.
The game was getting stretched. Lennon drilled a low effort just wide and then Torres got free on the left side of the box, opened up his body, but did it a bit too much as he curled the ball past Friedel and past the far post. Sandro then went close with a shot and Adebayor could have pulled Spurs back level when a ball fell loose in the six yard box after Cech could only parry Defoe's shot and the Togo striker couldn't sort his feet out and took a touch allowing the chance to disappear, whereas a first time shot might have brought more reward.
Walker tried to save a point for Spurs with a low driven shot (like his goal against Arsenal last season), but Cech managed to get down to it at the last minute and push it wide for a corner. From it, Chelsea hoofed the ball clear and Walker picked it up deep inside his own half wide on the right. Rather than just knock the ball out, he tried to keep the ball in to start another attack, but with a lack of options for him to pass to, he got stuck on the line on the wing and Mata robbed the ball from him. The Spaniard took it into the box and played a square pass across the six yard box for Sturridge to have the easy task of knocking the ball over the line from a yard out.
A fourth goal was harsh and while Walker didn't have a great game, the style Spurs have adopted is to try and ply their way to goal. Wherever they are and whenever in the game. Sandro misplaced a pass across the middle of our own half early in the game and Adebayor could have initiated a break when he had the ball in the centre circle, but instead of finding Lennon, he gave the ball to Cole. Throughout the game players were giving possession away by trying to play their way up the field. We might have to get used to it in the short term, until the players become more used to the AVB way.
As I said at the start, I don't think Chelsea were two goals better than us and we did assist in three of their goals, so, cutting some of those errors out and with Bale and Dembele in the side, it could have been a very different game.
Our first home defeat leaves us going to Southampton next week needing to get back into winning ways, but first comes a trip to Maribor and the need to give some players a rest might mean changes in both matches.
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|What you thought|
|Other scores during this week :|
|Manchester United||4||Stoke City||2||Saturday|
|Swansea City||2||Wigan Athletic||1||Saturday|
|West Bromwich Albion||1||Manchester City||2||Saturday|
|West Ham United||4||Southampton||1||Saturday|
|Queens Park Rangers||1||Everton||1||Sunday|
|6||West Bromwich Albion||8||4||2||2||12||9||14||+3|
|7||West Ham United||8||4||2||2||12||9||14||+3|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||8||0||3||5||7||17||3||-10|
Position before match :
Position after match : 5th
Position after the weekend : 5th
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