Let's get this right from the start. If Spurs fail to qualify for
the Champions League (or the Europa League come to that), they have
nobody to blame but themselves. Too many drawn games have cost us.
But the decisions that are going against us are not helping the
situation and this is a game that could have been won and instead adds
to a long line of games here that have gone against us. Chelsea
won't care, as they laugh all the way to the Champions League, but the
look on their faces when they end up with as much silverware as us
this season and fail to win the Champions League as they whinge and moan
about decisions going against them will be some small recompense.
The way Spurs were playing the likelihood of
a point was the least we should have taken from the game. Coasting
at 1-0, with Chelsea struggling to put much together, one severely
flawed decision by Andre Marriner and his myopic assistant put the home
side right back in the game and from that moment, there was only going
to be one winner ... and that was offside. Thanks the other
linesman. Hopefully the Premier League will be suspending them
from their duties as they are clearly unable to satisfactorily carry
them out to a suitable standard.
If the human eye is not capable of
telling if a ball is not totally (i.e.100%) over a white line or if the
last man is beyond the last man before the goalkeeper, perhaps
technology is needed. I would have thought referees would welcome
it and then they wouldn't get as much stick for such inept performances
Tottenham had started the game well, with
some comfortable passing of the ball, along with a few crosses into the
box and Pavlyuchenko getting a chance on the left of the box when Luiz
slipped, but he dragged his shot across goal and not close enough to
Bale who was in the middle.
13 minutes in a foul, centrally located
but some 35 yards from goal saw Didier Drogba line up a shot. It
should have been straightforward, but the effort dipped and was hit with
great power, leaving Gomes to just about get a fingertip to the ball,
but whether it made much difference as the ball smacked against the
crossbar and away. Gomes had a busy few minutes, with a low save
to stop a weak Torres shot and then he was out at the Spaniard's feet to
get to the ball first. Heurelho was then diving to his right to
hit the ground to stop Malouda's shot as he cur inside Kaboul just
inside the area.
Spurs were looking for some respite, when
they won a throw-in on the left wing. Bale shaped to take a long
one into the box, but threw it short and square to van der Vaart and he
lifted the ball over his left shoulder to Sandro, who was running in
behind him. With one touch, the Brazilian moved the ball out of
his feet and then smashed a shot that had Cech beaten as it flew into
his top right corner in the 19th minute. The keeper did well to
get a touch on it, but it came past Modric's head and flew like an arrow
into the net to give Spurs a lead. Sandro raced to the bench, only
to be berated by Harry for leaving his post in front of the back four
and in no uncertain terms was told to get back there and stay there.
A couple of corners caused Tottenham
problems, with first Gomes having to tip a powerful, but straight header
from Essien over the bar and then Drogba flicked the ball on at the near
post and Torres was unmarked at the far post, but stooped to head it low
down and only succeeded in getting it over the bar and onto the top of
Michael Dawson was doing his excellent
job of blocking shots and winning the ball in the air, but then, out of
nothing, Frank Lumplard hit a shot that dipped on Gomes at the last
minute, but he should have stopped it, rather than letting it slither
through his arms and legs to roll behind him towards goal. As the
ball agonisingly approached the line, the keeper reached back and got a
hand on it to drag it back towards him and in a moment's confusion, it
looked like he had succeeded, until the ill-placed linesman told the ref
it was a goal by racing back to the halfway line. Marriner, who
was also not in a position to see if the whole ball had gone over the
line took his lineman's advice and gave the goal ... right on half-time.
The Spurs players were furious and
without any discussion with the linesman, Marriner gave goal that would
have done Stuart Atwell proud. It is one which should ensure he
never referees one of our games again. But then we thought that
Anyway, the half-time break was upon us
and when Spurs came out, they looked a shell of the side they were in
the first half. For the first fifteen minutes of the second period
they gave it a go, but from the hour mark onwards, Chelsea piled
pressure on in waves, with Tottenham looking to have lost the art of
keeping possession and of holding players off.
Spurs were reliant on the ground-eating
effort of Sandro, who produced a fine tackle on Ivanovic as he entered
the box and the midfielder took the ball cleanly, while Gomes had to get
everything behind a Drogba free-kick from 40 yards out that was once
more hit like a cannonball. Although he beat it right back in
front of goal, Kalou, who had just come on, could not get a good contact
with it as it was coming at him too quickly.
Ramires and Kalou had come on for Essien
and Torres, while Defoe had replaced Pavlyuchenko just before the 60
minutes mark. JD had a shot when he cut in from the left, but it
was deflected out for a corner and Rafael took a free-kick that hit the
wall when he should have played the ball into the box.
Back in our box, Chelsea once more
shouted for a penalty when Malouda hit the ground after Kaboul took the
ball off him from the side, but he got the ball first and then Lumplard
hit a shot across goal when well-placed. Spurs had to re-arrange
further when Corluka pulled a hamstring and Bale dropped to left back,
with Pienaar coming on in the left midfield slot.
Drogba was lining up another free-kick,
this time on the edge of the box, but instead of a shot, he pulled the
ball into the penalty area around the penalty spot, where Terry swung at
it, but did not get a decent contact, leaving the ball travelling slowly
for Gomes to grab hold off on the ground. But then, the next time
Drogba scuffed a shot across the box and it looked like it was going off
for a throw-in, Solomon Kalou was on hand to control it and then toe-end
it into the unprotected net with one minute left on the clock.
Kalou had been offside twice in the move, once when it was first played
forward to Drogba and then just before he took his first touch before
finishing. Another goal ... another duff linesman.
Kaboul had two headers from two Pienaar
corners at the end, but neither hit the target and the whistle went on a
dismal day for the refereeing team and by implication Tottenham.
How many times are we going to get stitched up like this ?? Too
many by the looks of it.
Champions League qualification looks a
long way off now and with Liverpool on a run, they might catch us for
fifth. While it was a very good performance against the current
league champions, it showed how far we still need to progress and how
close we might be to that, but will it be put back two steps if the
wrong players (from our point of view) want to leave ? But then,
it doesn't matter who is playing for you when you get decisions like
those made by Marriner and his henchmen today ... you just can't beat