|DATE||Thursday 22nd December 2011|
|VENUE||White Hart Lane|
Spurs come into this game and the first of a few over Christmas and
New Year without a number of high profile players available in a
stage of the season that could determine the outcome of the
remaining five months.
But Chelsea are not on top form, with several players disgruntled, some more out of favour and others not playing to the level they did a year or so ago. However, this does not mean that they will be a push over, as this game means as much to them as all the others against the top six ... even before we joined that select group on a regular basis.
With a win over Manchester City, it looked as though the Pensioners had turned the corner, but Andres Villas Boas' side has struggled throughout the campaign so far and that was none more evident than at Wigan Athletic last weekend, when they returned home with a point after Petr Cech parried a shot in front of goal to allow an equaliser. Our record over them in the last few years at White Hart lane has been good, be we still have to beat them at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League. But last year's controversial defeat there has left a bitter taste and it was all that separated the teams last season, with the points being shared at the Lane.
Arriving this year with Anelka ready to be sold to China and perhaps Drogba to follow him, as well as Torres not in the goal-scoring form that persuaded Chelsea to buy him, it leaves Chelsea looking like an aging side with the hotly tipped youngsters taking time to come through, apart from Daniel Sturridge, who looks a good striker.
But it is their defence which is creaking, as John Terry faces more and more injuries, the threat of a court case over allegedly racist remarks he made to Anton Ferdinand and the prospect of being stripped of the England captaincy (again). Alongside him, Chelsea will be looking to buy Gary Cahill in the transfer window, but with Alex on his way out of the club, there are few choices left to partner the man who claims to be "Mr. Chelsea". David Luiz was signed for big money and while he has the look of Sideshow Bob from the Simpsons about him in appearance, he also looks like he is wearing the cartoon clown's boots sometimes, with the way he plays.
Ashley Cole is not performing to the level that some thought made him the best left back in the world, while Frank Lampard is not a regular pick in midfield these days, having been replaced by Meireles, who has legs and gets into the positions Lampost used to. With a new manager, it appears that fairly soon they will need some new players and January is a difficult time to do that.
The resilience that used to be a characteristic of the Chelsea team seems to have been eroded and they have let in some late goal that have cost them matches or points and one feature of the Spurs team is that they keep going until the end these days.
A lot of the end result depends on who Spurs can get out on the field. With injuries to Bale and Lennon, it could stifle our creativity, but the necessary movement which was missing in the first half against Sunderland needs to be applied to pull Chelsea out of position and get our players in shooting positions.
Without the injured players, I think the game will end all square, but if Bale and Adebayor are fit, then Spurs might just come out on top.
|PREDICTION||Tottenham Hotspur 1 Chelsea 1|
|Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc, an alternative history, etc.|
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Michael Dawson is on his way back from his Achilles surgery and will be fit in the New Year, but Tom Huddlestone is still missing after his ankle operation. Younes Kaboul is available for selection after serving his one match ban and with Ledley King a doubt, his return will be welcome. Up front their is a worry over Emmanuel Adebayor, who has a foot injury and Jermain Defoe's hamstring is troubling him, ruling him out. Aaron Lennon (hamstring) and Gareth Bale (ankle) are both doubtful, with Bale more likely to have a chance of playing, as Lennon will be out over Christmas and New Year.
CHELSEA TEAM NEWS :
Chelsea's doubts about John Terry have been allayed and he will play after getting an ankle injury in training, while the rest of the squad are all available to play.
available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard
in these countries on these stations ...
1 (1) Chelsea 1 (1)
Thursday 22nd December 2011 Kick off 20:00
White Hart Lane
|Adebayor 8||Sturridge 23|
Bale (foul) 70
Ivanovic (foul) 19
Ramieres (foul) 43
|Crowd : 36,141||Weather : Mild, dry|
|Referee : Howard Webb (South Yorkshire)||Assistant Referees : M. Mullarkey; D. Cann|
|Fourth Official : Chris Foy||-|
|Chelsea kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||Chelsea :||kit|
11 van der Vaart ( 9 Pavlyuchenko 46)
|Manager : Harry Redknapp||Manager : Andre Villas Boas|
|Sponsor : Aurasma||Shirt sponsor : Samsung|
|Kit Supplier : Puma||Kit Supplier : adidas|
While the game ended a point apiece in this 1-1 draw at the Lane, there was more than enough to suggest that Tottenham's team are the one with more of a future than those in blue managed by the supposed wunderkind manager Andre Villas Boas.
Spurs showed that despite missing players, they have enough to cope with teams, such as Chelsea, who have had the whip hand over us in the past, but that has changed. No Premier League win at the Lane since 2005, Spurs fans left the ground disappointed with a draw. And that says something for some of the Tottenham supporters, who moaned throughout the 90 minutes.
With Gareth Bale returning, Spurs had penetration on the left, but lacked the balance on the other side, with Lennon missing with a hamstring tear. Harry Redknapp kept faith with Sandro and Parker in the middle of midfield, which pushed Luka Modric out to the right and had Rafael van der Vaart roaming behind Adebayor. Gallas partnered Ledley King in defence and the regulars Walker, Assou-Ekotto and Friedel made up the remainder of the side.
The game kicked off with Spurs on the attack and it went that way for about the first half of the first half. Bale was finding a way past Bosingwa on the left and his early shot brought a block from Terry, while the closing down when Chelsea had the ball was forcing them into hurried passes and they could not get their game going. And that was exemplified in the seventh minute, when Sandro did well to take the ball off Sturridge just inside the Chelsea half and lay it off to Bale. With acres of green in front of him, he ran at Bosingwa and went past him like he wasn't there. Looking up, he played a low cross in along the line of the six yard box, where Cech looked favourite to cut the ball out, but he failed to even get to it and as Emmanuel Adebayor came in behind him, the Spurs striker read it well and swept the ball into the net to give Tottenham an early lead.
Chelsea almost made an immediate response, as within three minutes, the ball was cleared from an attack and it fell to Juan Mata, who fired the ball straight back at goal from 23 yards out. The ball swerved and dipped forcing Brad Friedel to dive to his left to keep it out, but the ball ran free and Daniel Sturridge seized on it, but with Friedel still grounded, from six yards out, he put his shot over the bar to the Spurs fans' relief. But Tottenham then went on the offensive and Ivanovic was booked when he brought down Bale as he threatened through the middle, with Bosingwa trailing behind once more. Just before the 20 minute lark, Adebayor was booked for a foul on Meireles, which saw Chelsea surround the referee for the first (but not the last) time in the match. I thought this was to be something that the FA were going to stamp out ? Well, not in Chelsea's case it appears.
It was a cheap free-kick halfway into the Spurs half that lead to Chelsea's equaliser in the 23rd minute. Modric was penalised for what looked a soft free-kick for a tackle on Ivanovic and the ball was played out to the left, where Ashley Cole appeared to handle the ball before putting in a waist high cross to the far post, where Sturridge drifted in unmarked to volley home from close range. It was a sloppy piece of defending from Spurs, with Assou-Ekotto coming inside, leaving Sturridge a clear run behind him into the box without being picked up.
As the team went back to the centre circle, Scott Parker went to speak to referee Webb, who (it looked like from where I was standing) appeared to push him away with a hand in his chest. If that was the case, it was not a way for referees to try and engender respect and it was certainly not something he did to Chelsea players whenever they surrounded him.
Tottenham resumed their passing football and worked well, moving off the ball to keep Chelsea in their own half and to keep possession. Parker and Sandro were putting in a lot of work in midfield and the game got a bit bogged down in midfield for about five minutes before Meireles hit a shot straight at Friedel from 25 yards and then a Bosingwa cross from the right to the far post dropped over Walker to Drogba, who took the ball on his chest and thundered a shot high up against the upright from eight yards out. Chelsea then had to make a change with Ivanovic leaving the pitch with a strain of some sort, having been turned too many times. Spurs pushed on and Adebayor needed to be another foot taller to meet a fierce cross fired in by Kyle Walker from the right wing.
On the other flank, Bale was still tormenting the Chelsea defence and he was taken late with a foul straight onto his ankle by Ramieres, who picked up a booking for it. Spurs did create one more chance before the break, when the ball was played in low to Adebayor, who took a touch to turn his man and shoot low at goal, but Cech fell to his left to hold the ball reasonably comfortably. In the remaining minute, Mikel limped off holding his thigh and Romeu replaced him in midfield. The change probably helped Chelsea, as Mikel had been fairly anonymous and the Romanian added a drive to the midfield in the second half.
There was some Christmas cheer at the break with a number of old boys appearing for a brief chat at pitch side. John Pratt, Phil Beal, Paul Miller, John Lacy, Mark Falco and Ossie Ardiles were all giving their reminiscences of Christmases past as the subs came out and then Roman Pavlyuchenko went back inside almost straight away. As the sides came out for the second half, he was stripped for action - coming on to replace van der Vaart, who had been quiet and it was later revealed that his hamstring had gone again.
The change should have brought more pressure on the Chelsea back four, which had been reshaped with the replacements they had to make, with two men up front, but it appeared to disrupt Tottenham more, with Modric moving further out to the right and Chelsea started the second period the quicker as Spurs came to grips with the new shape. Drogba hit a free kick from miles out off the wall for a corner that he then headed over the bar when he might have got it on target. It appeared that the Blues had adopted a shoot on sight policy, with three efforts from outside the box failing to trouble Friedel, but about eight minutes in, Sturridge came in from the far post and put a header wide across goal when he might have done better too, then Brad was quick off his line to meet Ramieres coming into the box and got himself in the way of his shot to keep it out.
Just before the hour, Spurs were twice given the rough end of Webb's decisions. Firstly, Ramieres again brought down Bale and with no discernable difference between this foul and the one he got booked for was allowed to get away with it, as only a free-kick was awarded. From it, the ball was whipped across to where Adebayor was at the far post to knock the ball in with his chest from William Gallas' flick on. There did not appear to be an offside, but that was where the resulting free-kick was taken from and once more, the lack of any explanation (at the time or afterwards) leaves fans mystified by the decision.
Chelsea's players were not missing any opportunity to make the most of any contact that Adebayor made with them. Already on a yellow card, he was walking a tight-rope with each foul and the play-acting some of the visiting players exhibited was shameful. When a Spurs player was on the floor, at least he still wanted to keep playing football, with Sandro flat out on the edge of the pitch in front of the West Stand, where he kept the ball in with his head ... risking a kick in the face !! Unfortunately, the Brazilian didn't do as well with his head as the game went on, with Modric's corner finding him coming in, but he put it wide of the goal.
It seemed that Spurs were tiring with the effort they had put in and a break on the right by Sturridge ended with a cross into the box aimed at Mata took a flick off Walker and the ball popped up and drifted just wide with Friedel confused by the flight of the ball.
Luka had been involved in the game, but was not having his usual influence, but a fine cross field ball picked out Bale on the edge of the box and the first touch saw the ball bounce up and the second sent it way over the bar. A minute later, Sandro took the ball forward past a couple of Chelsea players to the edge of the box and shot, but a defender got the bottom of his boot to it and it flew up towards the top corner, where Cech changed his footing to push it over with a good save. With five minutes to go, Spurs went close again, with Gallas getting a knee to a ball in from the left, with the ball missing the goal by inches.
At the other end there was a late chance for Chelsea to steal the points, as Mata's free kick picked out Ramieres totally unmarked a yard outside the six yard box. But fortunately for Tottenham, he had no idea where the goal was and put his free header about two yards wide, when it would have gone in if he had got it on target.
But then a better chance came ninety seconds into added time for Adebayor to win it for Tottenham. Bale ran at the Chelsea defence from right to left and as he got to the D, he played a ball between two Chelsea defenders to Manu, who coolly stroked it past Cech as he came to narrow the angle. The ball seemed to be heading into the right hand bottom corner of the net until a Chelsea defender fell over and managed to get a touch on the ball to keep it out and go for a corner.
The final whistle saw the teams have to settle for the draw, but it had been a tough game for both sides and a draw was probably a fair outcome on the balance of chances, but going on from here, you cannot see too many of the Chelsea team being at the Bridge for too much longer. And that includes some of their subs, who didn't even get on the pitch.
For Tottenham, it was the last home game of a year that has been one of continued development into a side who might finally make a sustained presence in the top four. Full credit to harry and to Daniel Levy too for their reshaping of the side and their management, both footballing and financial, which has seen Spurs move up to a place that few might have imagined they were capable of. But this team has legs in it for a while to come, whereas Chelsea's side contains more than a few old lags that Villas Boas will bomb out. What he makes of the team in the future will be interesting, but not as interesting as what s happening at the Lane for the foreseeable future.
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|What you thought|
|The Funky Phantom||What is the
difference between Sunderland and Chelsea ? Probably a really
rich benefactor and a decent crop of players, but with regard to
some other things there is not a lot of change between the two
There was so much time-wasting from Chelsea from the early part of the first half onwards and their gamesmanship is nothing more than a disgrace. When Drogba ran 50 yards (yes ... something he couldn't manage when he moved as far away as possible to waste time when he got substituted) to have a go at Howard Webb for Bale's foul on Cole that he was going to get booked for anyway, you have to query the way they play the game.
The number of fouls Ramieres got away with after he had been booked was equal to that of Adebayor's in the same situation, but while the Chelsea player's fouls were taken by the Spurs players, Ade's brought about a case of the roly-poly's from the men in Blue shirts, with the worst offenders being some of the England contingent and not foreign Chelsea players.
The Chelsea centre half was constantly shirt pulling and bumping players off the ball and the match officials failed to see any of it.
They have some quality players, as Mata and Meireles showed, but too many are content to niggle their way through matches. But the Chelsea fans seem to enjoy it and showed support for their beleaguered captain. Spurs fans sung "John Terry, We know what you are" and left the interpretation up to anyone who wanted to think about it.
For all the Police at the game and a "Code 1" being in place outside the ground (whatever that is), I didn't see any trouble and thinking back to the days of the games between the two sides in the 70s, there was never going to be as much of a problem as they might have thought.
Disappointed with the point, but I guess it was about the right result, but we could have done better. Walker was a little restricted in getting forward without Lennon in front of him, Luka was a little under par and Rafa did not have much influence in the first half.
Chelsea fans like a laugh don't they ? They sang about us
Tottenham supporters "burning our own town", while they must be well
aware of what that was like when Croydon was ablaze.
And the pantomime booing of a certain Chelsea player who I won't mention was countered with vociferous support. Innocent until proven guilty I suppose, but the CPS wouldn't take a high profile case like this unless it was fairly cast iron.
Spurs could have had the game sewn up with the chances they had, but then so could Chelsea. Did the passion and pace of the game hide any fragilities on either side ?
Well, for us it was the fact that we are less of a threat when we don't have pace on both wings, but for them, they lack a proven striker who is in form and their defence lacks pace. Given better luck, on the day we might have just shaded it, but then Chelsea fans might have thought the same ... but the chances of them seeing things the same as Spurs fans is rather slim.
|Other scores during this mid-week :|
|Blackburn Rovers||1||Bolton Wanderers||2||Tuesday|
|Wolverhampton Wanderers||2||Norwich City||2||Tuesday|
|Manchester City||3||Stoke City||0||Wednesday|
|Newcastle United||2||West Bromwich Albion||2||Wednesday|
|Queens Park Rangers||2||Sunderland||3||Wednesday|
|12||West Bromwich Albion||17||5||4||8||18||26||19||-8|
|16||Queens Park Rangers||17||4||4||9||17||31||16||-14|
Position before match :
Position after match :
Position after the weekend :
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