|COMPETITION||FA Cup Semi-final|
|DATE||Sunday 15th April 2012|
Coming just a few weeks after a league meeting between the two clubs, you would think that the game would be a fairly cagey one as they know each other well.
But come Sunday, the two sides may be very different from those who walked out at Stamford Bridge and they also approach the game in different ways after the intervening matches. Both clubs may regard this as an unwanted obstacle in the way of their true aims this season. Chelsea may struggle to get in the top four after another season of upheaval, but they have a Champions League semi-final against Barcelona, albeit only two days after the Spurs match. This could lead to them resting some players, but until they stroll out into the Sunday sunlight we will not know which ones are going to be involved.
Spurs are aiming to hang onto fourth place with Chelsea and Newcastle United breathing down their necks. Having occupied third for the majority of the season, it will be a blow if they cannot stay in the Champions League qualifying places. But the run of form since the England job became vacant has been poor and without an away win in 2012, this match might pose a few more problems than they hoped for.
Chelsea have suffered with managerial changes as Andre Villa Boas moved out and Roberto di Matteo moved in, as temporary coach. He has done well with the team, with or without the help of john Terry and Didier Drogba's assistance. The team have been a bit more consistent in picking up points, but have not been playing fluently, so the fact that neither team is that confident going into the match throws up the prospect of a fascinating match.
With Petr Cech showing signs of vulnerability, the goal is often under treat from opposition attacks now, with the back four of Cole, Terry, Cahill and Bosingwa starting to creak a little. Ivanovic will be missing through suspension and Terry plays with cracked ribs, so may not last the distance, although they might keep him for the Barcelona match. Bosingwa has been exposed in the past by Bale and his attacking instincts will need to be matched by his defensive ones. Cahill has looked a solid centre-half since getting games at Chelsea, but can be turned easily and while he has the ability to recover, he often gets caught out of position in the first instance. Cole might miss the game with an ankle injury, but that again, could be to allow him to play in the Champions League. That would mean Paolo Ferreira might be drafted in or moving Cahill to full back with David Luiz coming into the middle. The Brazilian Luiz has been a mixed bag this season as he tries to settle into English football. Sometimes looking very good, especially on the ball and going forward, his defending has come under some scrutiny, as he is often away from his defensive post.
The midfield might be changed around, with Frank Lampard likely to play, but Essien and Ramieres might be give the day off. With Oriel Romeu sick, Florent Malouda and Raul Meireles could get a game. Malouda likes to get wide and can pop up in goal-scoring positions, while Meireles prefers to run the middle of the pitch and has popped up with a couple of goals lately from distance. Ramires could be rested and Jon Obi Mikel might make a rare start. He is tall and strong, but often fails to use his attributes to their best effect, so has remained on the periphery of the first team lately, even though Chelsea battled Manchester United for his signature when he came to England. Whether Juan Mata plays remains to be seen. di Matteo may feel that his creativity is better employed against Barcelona if they have a hope of winning, so pay stick with the power and strength for the semi-final against another Premier League team.
Up front, one of Fernando Torres and Didier Drogba will start, but not both, as commentators say they cannot play together. They bring different threats, with Drogba powerful on and off the ball, good in the air and possessing a powerful free-kick. Torres prefers to play on the floor and is more of a subtle goal-scorer than Drogba. A player who works the channels and can ghost into the box, he is unlike his team-mate who uses his strength without the stealth of the Spaniard.
Solomon Kalou is another striker who might feature, but having scored against Spurs in the league game at the Lane, perhaps di Matteo might favour Daniel Sturridge. Both have pace and know where to be when a ball comes into the box, but Sturridge has a bit more trickery about him than the Ivory Coast striker. He is strong on the ball and could pose the makeshift Tottenham defence more problems.
Spurs have problems of their own with form. One win in the last eight league games has been punctuated with some good victories in the Cup. With Chelsea having been Tottenham's bogey team for so long, the recent form against the Pensioners has been good, with the two league games this season being drawn, but Chelsea have Barcelona on their minds in the Champions League semi a couple of days later and will also be mindful of their remaining games needing to be won to try and force a fourth place finish. Spurs are also looking for that fourth place having fallen from third.
I think that it might play on Tottenham's minds a little more, as the attacking game played at high tempo has gone missing of late, with a large number of the squad having played the bulk of the games this season. If Chelsea go for it, then I think that our FA Cup semi-final hoodoo might continue.
|PREDICTION||Chelsea 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1|
|Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , history, etc.|
A sprained ankle will not rule Ashley Cole out of Sunday's semi-final, but Oriel Romeu is ill and Ryan Bertrand has a calf injury causing them to miss the semi-final. Defender Branislav Ivanovic will miss out after collecting a three game ban for punching Shaun Maloney in the stomach in Monday's match against Wigan Athletic
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Spurs are without Younes Kaboul how has a knee injury, along with Niko Kranjcar, who is suffering from a similar knock. Scott Parker has benefitted from resting his hamstrings and there are no other new injuries in the squad. Heurelho Gomes (knee), Tom Huddlestone (ankle) and Michael Dawson (ankle) are all long term absentees. David Bentley could return to the bench, after returning to training after a knee operation, as Redknapp struggles to find seven players as subs.
available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard
in these countries on these stations ...
Chelsea 5 (1)
FA Cup Semi-final
Sunday 15th April 2012
Venue : Wembley
Tottenham Hotspur 1 (0)
Kick off 18:00
Drogba (persistent fouling) 16
Mikel (retaliation) 90+3
Gallas (foul) 80
Parker (foul) 90+2
|Crowd : 85,731||Weather : Showers before match, but dry and mild|
|Referee : Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire)||Assistant Referees : S. Beck; M. McDonough|
|Fourth Official : Anthony Taylor|
|Chelsea kicked off and played towards the West end in the first half.|
|Chelsea :||kit||Tottenham Hotspur :||kit|
11 van der Vaart (18 Defoe 75)
|Temporary Coach : Roberto di Matteo||Manager : Harry Redknapp|
|Sponsor : Samsung||Shirt sponsor : Investec|
|Kit Supplier : adidas||Kit Supplier : Puma|
It is increasingly appearing that whenever we play Chelsea we have to give them a goal's start ... although it is now coming later in the game and perhaps there is no point even trying when referees like Martin Atkinson are in charge. It looked like some of the players feel that way after the performances they put in during this 1-5 defeat.
Liverpool were waiting for the winners of this semi, but the minute's silence for the victims of Hillsborough 1989 and Piermario Morosini, the midfielder who was on loan at Udinese and collapsed and died on the pitch. Unfortunately, I had predicted earlier in the week to one of my Liverpool supporting colleagues at work that the late kick off and fans being drunk would lead to the minute's silence being shattered. I am sorry that my prediction was right and some Chelsea fans broke into song in the middle of the silence to make it quickly be brought to a halt.
This followed a number of fights on the way up Wembley Way, mainly involving Chelsea fans attacking Spurs fans or in some cases each other.
There is little class about Chelsea on or off the pitch and this under-lined what an objectionable club they are.
Much the same was shown in the early stages of the game, when Ramires and Drogba tripped Spurs players and for the third, as Aaron Lennon threatened to break away from the halfway line, the Chelsea forward got a yellow card.
Drogba had created the first chance of the game ,with a cross that Frank Lumplard put harmlessly wide off his head with six minutes of the game played. Six minutes later, he knocked Gallas over and tried a shot but only got a faint touch as he fell over (how unusual) and the ball was easily gathered by Cudicini. van der vaart fired a shot well over from the edge of the box, then, in the 19th minute, Scott Parker went on the first of many runs into the Chelsea last third and when in the box, he looked to shoot but Lumplard got a tackle in that left Scotty on his haunches for a while. 24 minutes gone and Lennon had a shot from the edge of the area in a central position, but it was deflected wide and then Kalou played Mata through in the box, with Spurs exposed, but the Spaniard let the ball get away from him and Cudicini claimed it.
After breaking the minute's silence, it was half an hour before the Chelsea fans could muster another song. And it preceded Lennon's left wing cross being headed at goal by Rafa that beat Cech, but Terry was on the line to be hit by the ball and it was cleared away. That was after 37 minutes, then, a long swinging ball into the box by van der Vaart looked like it was going to be poked in past Cech as he came out by Adebayor, but the striker missed it and the ball bounced past the keeper and rebounded out off the post in the 39th minute.
While neither team had played particularly well up to this point, Spurs were pushing on and Chelsea were content to play on the break. But then, three minutes before the break, Chelski scored. Route One. Drogba bumped Gallas off the ball and then got just into the box and smashed a left foot rising shot with so much power, Cudicini could not get near it at his near post. It was a cardinal sin to let Drogba turn you in such a situation and it came against the run of play.
A couple of minutes into the second half, Mata shot low at goal and Cudicini dived to his left to push the ball round the post. The ball came in from the corner, Terry went flying in taking King and Cudicini with him, with the ball reaching Mata at the far post and his low shot was heading for goal until Benoit Assou-Ekotto got a foot to it and it was hacked away. The Chelsea players turned away celebrating, the Spurs players got up to play on, the linesman in that half stayed where he was and the referee signalled a goal and ran back to the halfway line with the Spurs player chasing after him incensed. The fact that the lineman didn't run back to the halfway line indicates that eh couldn't see or didn't think it was a goal. The big screen failed to replay the incident, indicating that they thought there would be a riot if the truth got out.
But Martin Atkinson came up with his craziest decision of the season to put us 0-2 behind. Another Chelsea goal that never was.
It had pushed the Spurs players to the edge to have to accept the goal, but they got on with the game and in the 56th minute, another surging run by Parker saw him feed the ball straight through the middle of the Chelsea defence for Adebayor, who took the ball past Cech, who brought him don in the box, but it ran to Bale, who side-footed it into the net and brought the score back to 1-2. In the process of bringing down Adebayor, Cech had damaged Luiz who was then carried off. This calmed the atmosphere on the pitch down and allowed Chelsea to regroup after a substitution.
Spurs had three corners in succession and the pressure was building, but when the ball was cleared, Drogba hit the turf (surprise surprise) to get some treatment and again, break up the rhythm of the match. Then Spurs allowed too much space for Mata to receive the ball and flick it beyond Assou-Ekotto and Ramires got in to beat Cudicini with a lifted shot beyond his reach in the 77th minute.
Gallas lost his head a bit and was booked for bringing down Drogba, then Lumplard hit it from 30 yards out and Cudicini had not lined his wall up properly so that he could cover his goal and it beat him on his left hand side. 81 minutes.
Gallas lost the ball and Malouda crossed too high for Torres, then Adebayor was booked for a foul on Cahill, before Parker fouled Mikel, who kicked out at the Spurs midfielder. Both got yellow cards.
The final nail came in added time, when Malouda was played in by simple pass through the Spurs defence that Mata played through. 5-1 and there were few Spurs fans left to see that goal. Chelsea's supporters were loud now, but then they had reason to sing now. They are only happy when they know that the game is theirs and frankly, that should have been as soon as the phantom goal was given. Tottenham briefly rallied, but could not maintain that attacking threat.
After the game Harry said Spurs were too open ,but realistically, they were too tired and didn't have the legs to withstand the strength of the Chelsea players. King and Assou-Ekotto were very poor and Gallas lost his composure. Bale flitted in and out of the game, Luka didn't really want to upset his soon-to-be new employers and Adebayor was so isolated up front, it was easy for the Chelsea defence to deal with him.
Another good chance to progress wasted and while the game was not reflected by the score-line, it would have been an unlikely win if Spurs had pulled it off. But without any luck and without a fit team, it was not on the cards.
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|What you thought|
appreciate that the ref made an appalling decision on Sunday, I
cannot agree with the players or Manager that it was that that cost
us the game. After that decision, we got a goal back and had
the chance to push on and get back into the game, but instead we
capitulated and in the last few weeks have looked like the Tottenham
Poor at the back, no imagination in midfield and no clinical finishing up front. In the summer and January, you could see that we needed signings, but we didn't do enough and Levy has yet again let the fans down.
If we now finish fifth or even sixth, this season will have been an absolute travesty and all those who have referred to this team as the best since 1960/61, need to have their heads read.
Harry did well to get us out of relegation when he first came and we did great in the Champions League, but come next season we will still have not won anything and to be honest will be in the same situation that we were years ago.
Something must change and my advice to Levy would be change the manager now as he does not want to the be here and start spending the big money that we know exists because without it, we will be back to a mid table team.
|Ted Maul||It was a poor
performance by Spurs and with a false sense of the game having one
cleared off the line and one off the post in the first half before
they scored. While Chelsea didn't rip up any trees either,
they looked like they were physically and mentally more up for it
from the start.
And it is in the head and in the legs that I think that our team has gone.
With five cup finals left, we couldn't really get going in this semi, so the prospects for the remainder of the season do not look promising. We have four games against teams threatened by relegation and one against free scoring Fulham, with Martin Jol returning to the Lane to prove a point (or three).
Teams have learned how to play against us and with the players showing fatigue and not attacking in the style they did earlier in the season, it might mean we drop out of Europe altogether. Which may be better than playing meaningless games in the Europa League, but will mean that anyone worth their salt will not want to sign for us. These days it's CL or FA.
|East Stan||We lost the game
before it started. The team Redknapp put out would not have
troubled Chelsea and it gave them the one-upmanship before a ball
had been kicked.
Some of it was due to injury, but why play Ledley when not fit instead of Ryan Nelsen, who was ?
Was Scott Parker fully fit ? he kept going, but is he now going to be knackered for our league games ?
And Cudicini ? Instead of Freidel ? Why ?
Harry got his team selection and his tactics wrong on this one and where he had got two draws against them this season, he blew our big chance to win a semi for the first time in years.
|Adam||The day football
So there we have it the football association centre piece final of 2012 is to be contested by Chelsea and Liverpool or Terry and Suarez, two odious little footballers who have done more to drag the name of good football and sportsmanship into the gutter then anyone else have this season.
Admitted Terry has yet to be found guilty of his nasty little rant about the colour of a fellow players skin (which set this whole Redknapp for England circus rolling), but with other such appalling behaviour in his past does that really matter.
Then of course the Chelsea fans drag their teams name even further down by not honouring the minute silence for the Hillsborough victims, but should we be surprised by that when you look at the behaviour of their captain on and off the field.
Then what else has happen .. oh yes a goal is given to Chelsea at a crucial time in the match by a referee who is 12 yards away and TV replays are inconclusive , just how much longer are we to put up without goal line technology it makes the game a farce, in fact the FA Cup itself is fast becoming a joke with semis at Wembley and now this years final is kicking off at 5.15pm why?
What's even more of a farce though is that the FA Cup will be blemished this year by the hand of Terry or Suarez holding it and what's even more sadder is that most people won't care.
|Other semi-final score :|
|Other scores during this week :|
|Norwich City||1||Manchester City||6||Saturday|
|Swansea City||3||Blackburn Rovers||0||Saturday|
|West Bromwich Albion||1||Queens Park Rangers||0||Saturday|
|Manchester United||4||Aston Villa||0||Sunday|
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