|DATE||Saturday 24th March 2012|
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|PREDICTION||Chelsea 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1|
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Chelsea 0 (0)
Saturday 24th March 2012
Venue : Stamford Bridge
Tottenham Hotspur 0 (0)
Kick off 12:45
Essien (foul) 50
Assou-Ekotto (foul) 65
Sandro (foul) 66
|Crowd : 41,830||Weather : Sunny very warm|
|Referee : Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire)||Assistant Referees : D. Cann; M. McDonough|
|Fourth Official : Michael Oliver||
Match Delegate : Nick
Professional Game Match Observer : M. Reed
|Chelsea kicked off and played towards the Cemetery end in the first half.|
|Chelsea :||kit||Tottenham Hotspur :||kit|
4 Luiz 60)
9 Torres 75)
11 van der Vaart (15 Saha 76)
|Temporary coach : Roberto di Matteo||Manager : Harry Redknapp|
|Sponsor : Samsung||Shirt sponsor : Aurasma|
|Kit Supplier : adidas||Kit Supplier : Puma|
What was set up as the titanic battle for fourth place almost sunk without trace in a first half that barely caused a ripple, but Tottenham's late first half flurry was the ice-breaker for the second half, which was a more exciting affair, if not full of goals, with the game ending as a goal-less draw.
Tottenham's mid-week draw with Stoke and Chelsea's defeat at Manchester City left both sides needing to win to cement their credentials for the fourth place Champions League qualifying place. As it was, the sides defences proved unsinkable, although both keepers were grateful for hanging onto their clean sheets with the aid of the woodwork and the men who threw themselves overboard in their attempts to stop conceding.
But both the sides in the first half seemed happy just to stay afloat and it took until the 30th minute for Tottenham's first effort on goal, a rising shot from Gareth Bale that flew over the bar and Chelsea's only came in the 51st minute -when Sturridge's shot missed going across goal.
Spurs looked reasonably comfortable in possession for the majority of the first half, with Chelsea's only threat a long diagonal ball over Assou-Ekotto's afroed head and a couple of flicks through the middle of our defence, which the Chelsea players running onto them could not capitalise on. Both sides' defences stopped whatever came their way and only van der Vaart's flashing header wide) off Terry, but the referee was none the wise rot most things that went on today) and Adebayor's solo run up the left wing before crossing beyond the far post, when Kyle Walker had run 80 yards and into the middle of the box, there was little else to talk about. A pull back to the waiting Bale or Modric might have been the better option.
Chelsea looked like they wanted a penalty (but don't they always), when Assou-Ekotto and Gallas closed in as Lampost ran into the box, going down under challenge from William, but the ref waved it away. Younes Kaboul also in the right place earlier when Drogba brought the ball down and looked to shoot, but the Spurs centre back was there to nudge the ball back to Friedel to avert any danger.
Just before the break, a neat move on the left form a throw-in saw Bale play Modric through on the left side of the area and his low ball in caused problems for the home defence and the ball dropped invitingly for Rafael van der Vaart five yards out in the middle of the six yard box. Hitting the ball at goal with his right foot, it went centrally and Cech managed to get hands to it to keep it out and push it to his left. van der Vaart reacted and once more on his right foot, he shot and this time Cole blocked the effort, with the ball ballooning into the air, where Adebayor headed it at goal, but it cleared the bar.
The home crowd had been so quiet for the majority of the first half that you could have been forgiven for thinking that they only sang when they were winning. The second half saw them get a little more animated, but mainly, there were edge of the seat moments for them when Spurs went forward.
Chelsea's first chance came when a long ball down the middle was held up by Drogba to play in Sturridge on the left, but with five white shirted players chasing him, he could, only fire it wide of the opposite upright. Five minutes later, Assou-Ekotto won the ball, played it to Bale, who ran across the face of the box and nudged it into the path of Kyle Walker, joining the attack, but his first time shot was sliced wide of Cech's left hand post, although it looked like it had hit the net, instead of the advertising hoardings, from the Spurs section. Then another long ball almost found out Kaboul and Gallas, as Mata stole between them and tried unsuccessfully to bring the ball down. otherwise it might have been a certain Chelsea goal.
Benoit was involved in another controversial moment in the game when Ramieres ran into the box with the Cameroon defender and went down, with it looking like Benoit had pulled him down, but despite the protestations of the blue shirted players, Atkinson waved away the claims. Or defensive wall stood firm to block a Drogba free-kick form about three miles out and Kaboul broke away ion the left wing and tried to cross the ball, falling and injuring his thigh on the process. Chelsea played on without putting the ball out until a soft free-kick was given for a foul by Bale and from it, the home team almost scored. Mata stepped up to take it and Friedel looked to move to where the gap was created in the wall by Drogba and Lampost, but the ball went the other way and rebounded off the post to Luiz, who could only scoop the ball into the air, with Spurs able to clear it.
With fifteen minutes left, Luka's free-kick found Gallas' head, but without a challenge on him, he put it wide. Three minutes later, Modric's little dinked pass over the Chelsea defence set Adebayor through and he took the ball around Cech as he came to meet him in the D, but getting to the ball he stretched to shoot and could not get enough power on his shot, allowing Cahill to block it, in a similar fashion to Ade's late effort in the home game against Chelsea. Spurs then got even closer from a corner, when Gareth Bale rose to head powerfully at goal and the ball rattled back off the crossbar, with Manu heading over the loose ball.
Bale had a run with a shot at Cech at the end of it and Lampost fired one straight at Brad at the other end, as the teams exchanged efforts and then right at the end, a free-kick 25 yards out nearly produced the winner, with Bale perfecting the Ronaldo free-kick that dips with power and this one was low anyway, making it difficult for Cech to do much with, other than push it around the base of his left hand post.
The corner was cleared and the final whistle went on a 0-0 draw that kept the five point gap between us and Chelsea who stay in fifth place. It opens things up for Arsenal to go further ahead, but they are still to play Chelsea and others, so, as Harry claimed, there may still be twists and turns in the season yet, but the failure to finish teams off might be our undoing.
Despite it being his birthday, Benoit was not having a good time. His passing often went astray and he was often caught out by players getting in behind him. Too often, we gave the ball away cheaply, especially from the back, with no obvious out ball available. Adebayor worked hard up front and Saha caused problems with his pace when he came on, but the midfield often did not get up to support the front tow quickly enough or overplayed the ball before getting muscled off it. Once more, the bulk of the possession and the chances counted for nothing, with the team being unable to convert those into killing off the opposition.
The game had ended with Spurs on the attack, but there was little between the sides on goals scored or conceded, but a bit of a gulf on the way the game panned out, as Spurs sail on to better things, with Chelsea finding their ship in need of some maintenance, otherwise their future hopes will be holed.
In the end, neither side could break the deadlock and with 100 years passing since the Titanic first sailed and sunk, perhaps it was Tottenham in this draw who may have proved to be Chelsea's iceberg.
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|What you thought|
|Other scores during this week :|
|Bolton Wanderers||2||Blackburn Rovers||1||Saturday|
|Norwich City||2||Wolverhampton Wanderers||1||Saturday|
|Stoke City||1||Manchester City||1||Saturday|
|Sunderland||3||Queens Park Rangers||1||Saturday|
|West Bromwich Albion||1||Newcastle United||3||Sunday|
|14||West Bromwich Albion||30||10||6||15||36||40||36||-5|
|18||Queens Park Rangers||30||6||7||17||33||53||25||-20|
Position before match :
Position after match : 4th
Position after the weekend : 4th
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