There was little succour for Spurs after
losing 0-3 at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon to Chelsea.
Perhaps the Chelsea fans expect to win this fixture after nearly 27
years without a defeat, with referee Howard Webb denying Tottenham a way
back into the game when Robbie Keane was knocked over by Ricardo
Carvalho, it is hardly surprising that the run continues.
Not that Webb was at fault only for the
Spurs penalty that wasn't, but he failed to spot a blatant arm thrown up
towards the ball by Benoit Assou-Ekotto inside the box, when Lampost hit
a free-kick at goal.
Harry Redknapp had set Tottenham up in a
4-3-3 formation to match Chelsea and for the opening fifteen minutes, it
certainly seemed to do the trick. The team moved the ball well and
the movement confounded Chelsea, who were not perhaps expecting to be
given the run-around on their own ground. Sebastien Bassong had to
cut out a low ball into the danger area from Bosingwa at the beginning
of the game, but Defoe was almost put through on the edge of the box,
but Palacios' deft pass was not read and the striker was running in the
opposite direction when it arrived. Bosingwa was exploiting a bit
of space on the right wing and he opted to smash a shot rather than
cross the ball and it almost beat Cudicini, who might have had it
covered, but it rebounded off the bar and out.
But Tottenham were not to be out-done and
when Palacios did finally find Defoe in the 10th minute, he was clean
through on Cech, but the keeper spread himself and blocked Jermain's
shot with his legs. The keeper did even better, even though he
might not known much about it a couple of minutes later. Lennon
went on a run on the right and pushed the ball across the face of the
box, leaving Tom Huddlestone to strike the ball first time and it was
only the speed at which he had to take the shot that prevented him
putting it just to the side of the goalie, who managed to fumble the
ball away to safety.
of minutes and another chance, with Jenas being set up by Lennon, who
had pinched possession as Chelsea dithered, but the midfielder's shot
was struck fiercely, although a little off target and it fizzed past the
Chances such as these win games and when
one came Chelsea's way, they took it. Corluka had already had to
intervene a couple of times to prevent Anelka and Ballack getting on the
end of crosses fro the right wing, but this time, he had got sucked in
and was not aware of Ashley Cole coming in behind him to stoop to head
past Cudicini. It was not all Corluka's fault, as the cross was
not shut down and Drogba was allowed too much time with the ball.
The first of a number of debatable
decisions was not given Tottenham's way in the 34th minute, when
Carvalho took Defoe out on the edge of the box, but Webb waved play on.
It was a common theme through this game, that he seemed to want to let
foul tackles go and the only occasion he brought one back, was when
Chelsea were through and they were not best pleased with his delayed
whistle. When Lennon broke from halfway eight minutes before the
break, Essien produced a well-timed challenge to rob him of the ball.
Being a goal down at the break was not
enough bad news for Spurs and two minutes into the second half, Ledley
King turned to chase a ball back towards his own goal and fell to the
ground heavily, holding the back of his leg. A hamstring pull
ended his participation and Hutton came on at right back, with Corluka
moving inside. With Ledley having had a good game up until then,
it was hard to see how Spurs might hold out now. It might have
happened had Webb not been listless in his decision making.
Neither did he give a penalty nor a simulation against Keane, so what
exactly happened ? Nothing according to the match official.
Three minutes later, it didn't matter, as
Chelsea broke on the right wing, Anelka crossed for Drogba to shoot and
although Carlo got down to the ball, it squirmed wide, where Lampost
pulled it back for Ballack to tap in from close range. There were
TV claims that Lampost was offside, but was played on by Assou-Ekotto
wide on the left of our defence. So, why is it that if an attacker
is wide of the goal and not interfering with play, a defender in a
similar position can be construed as playing a forward onside ? He
is hardly active out there is he ?
Still, it didn't matter by this point, as
Webb wasn't going to give Tottenham anything other than a couple of
yellow cards and it was just a question of how many. In the 62nd
minute it was 3-0, as Corluka got back at Drogba, who was onto a through
ball, but his tackle took the ball onto the striker's leg and it then
went past Cudicini and left the Ivory Coast striker with a tap into an
empty net. So, not only the referee and the injuries, but the luck
against us as well.
Crouch was brought on to try and get
Spurs back into the game, with Defoe taken off. He immediately
headed down for Wilson Palacios to try a difficult flying volley, which
went just wide of the goal. As it was, a save from Cudicini 17
minutes form time kept the score down, as John Obi Mikel's shot escaped
his first save and looked as though it was going over the line, but the
Italian keeper got back to knock it away with one hand and out with the
other for a corner.
As Anelka and Bassong chased a through
ball, the Spurs defender fell awkwardly and hit his head. He
seemed out cold, but raised his head, only for it to flop back to the
ground., After a good few minutes treatment and a neck brace being
applied, he was carried off and the centre-back curse struck again.
Kranjcar came on and Hud moved alongside Corluka in a really makeshift
As the game petered out towards the end,
the Spurs keeper made saves form Mikel and Kalou, before Tottenham had
the ball in the back of the Chelsea net with a minute left, but as
Lennon played Crouch through to side-step Cech and slot home, the
linesman's flag was raised for offside. The sheer fact that he was
offside should not blind us to the fact that the flag would
probably have gone up even if he hadn't been beyond the last man.
So, two games against the top two sides
and two defeats with three goals conceded each time.
So what have we learned ?
There is still along way tog o to catch
the top sides and that there is still a long way to go before we start
getting decisions from officials the way the top sides do. We need
to take the chances when they some and need to be strong to stand up to
the strength the top sides show. Maybe it is not that far away,
but with injuries hitting in an area where we already are hit, the true
strength of the squad might be put to the test in the run of games
against teams who are knocking around the middle/bottom half of the