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Premier League

Saturday 21st March 2009

As Chelsea strive to keep pace with Manchester United and Spurs pick up their form and go on a run away from the bottom of the table, the visit to White Hart Lane of the Pensioners makes for an intriguing meeting.

Spurs will be gaining in confidence, but the Chelsea side are grinding out results as they stay second with an eye on taking the top spot should United slip up again.  With Aaron Lennon playing very well at the moment and him usually having a good game against Chelsea, it may be that the way Spurs are playing in taking the game to the opposition, might pay off.

Having to defend for 90 minutes is not Tottenham's forte, so getting a goal or so ahead might help the gaining of points.  Chelsea have not been as resolute at the back as they have in previous years, so by playing in and around Terry and Carvalho, Spurs might be able to link nice little triangles past them.  Darren Bent will be buoyed by last week's goal and the fact that he scored against the opposition earlier this season.  Bosingwa likes to get up the line, as does his counterpart Cole on the other flank, so it might be that the way we play in going forward might stop their forays forward.

Michael Essien's return in midfield will be a major boost to Chelsea and his goal against Manchester City last week was a bonus, as he does not often get on the score-sheet, but his hard work and intelligent passing will add a new dimension to the side, with Frank Lampost lacking his usual incisive passing and running late into the box and with players such as Florent Malouda not functioning to great effect on the flank.  Missing Joe Cole and now Deco, the midfield will need the creativity it is missing from someone and the likes of Jon Obi Mikel, Ballack and Belletti might not provide it, so there may be some reliance on loanee Ricardo Queresma.  A skilful wide man on his day, he had disappointed Jose Mourinho at Inter and disappointed Harry Redknapp when he went to Stamford Bridge on loan instead of coming to Tottenham.  Will we see something worth missing ?

Up front, Chelsea are perhaps at their strongest.  Didier Drogba has shown that if he stays on his feet he can be a real handful, while Nicolas Anelka has been scoring regularly without not looking like an ideal partner for Drogba.  The Ivory Coast striker is strong on the ball and good in the air, while Anelka is quick and both can finish well, but do not look like a proper pairing up front for the Blues.   Perhaps that is why the side are winning so many games 1-0 now.

It will need another performance similar to that in the League Cup final to get anything from the game, but I think that with the six games without defeat and a more settled side forming, Spurs are more resilient to opponents than earlier in the season.  While I would like to think we could go out and win against Chelsea, a more realistic result might be a share of the points ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur   1    Chelsea   1

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Alan Hutton (foot); Jermain Defoe (foot); - (-); 

CHELSEA :  -  Paolo Ferreira (knee); Joe Cole (knee); Deco (hamstring); - (-);


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Tottenham Hotspur   1    Chelsea   0      (Half-time score : 0-0)

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Saturday 21st March 2009
Kick Off :  3.00 p.m.
Crowd :   36,034
Referee :  Mike Dean (Wirral)
Chelsea kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Bright, sunny
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

  1  Gomes

22  Corluka
39  Woodgate
26  King
32  Assou-Ekotto

  7  Lennon (  4  Zokora 90)
  8  Jenas
12  Palacios     
14  Modric       (24  O'Hara 87)

10  Bent
15  Keane (c)

Unused subs: 
27  Cudicini
  5  Bentley
  6  Huddlestone
  9  Pavlyuchenko
20  Dawson 

Chelsea :

  1  Cech

17  Bosingwa
33  Alex
26  Terry (c)
  3  A. Cole

  5  Essien (15  Malouda 76)
13  Ballack     
  8  Lampard
35  Belletti      (18  Quaresma 61)

11  Drogba
39  Anelka

Unused subs: 
40  Hilario
  2  Ivanovic
  9  Di Santo
21  Kalou
42  Mancienne

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Tottenham Hotspur

Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Modric 50



Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  

Modric (foul) 78
Palacios (foul) 78 



Belletti (persistent fouling) 45 
Ballack (foul) 84


Match Report : -  
Every Spurs player played their part in this victory over Chelsea, with a lot of hard work and no little degree of skill, as the Pensioners failed to capitalise on the capital punishment Manchester United were suffering at the hands of their local rivals Fulham.  As for Tottenham, the win extends a good unbeaten run at just the right time of the season and and to score a well deserved victory over their fellow London rivals courtesy of a goal fittingly scored by Man of the Match Luka Modric.

The kick off was delayed for thirty minutes, as a mini-bus had been parked under the shadow of the South Stand and when the local Council attempted to get it up on their trailer, they noticed that there were bags inside and considered them to be suspect.  But this only resulted in the game starting in bright sunshine, as the fans enjoyed a leisurely approach to the start.

An early corner saw Ledley King flick a header on, but there was nobody on the end of it in a white shirt, so the first goal threat arrived in the eighth minute when Tottenham backed off the advancing Michael Essien and fired in a low effort that Gomes saved, but let slip.  He was quick enough to grab the ball at the second attempt, but he was caught by Belletti on the follow through.  Within a minute, a long cross into the box was headed out by Terry straight to Jermaine Jenas on the corner of the penalty area and his touch and shot saw the ball whistle just over Petr Cech's bar. 

Tottenham were trying to get Aaron Lennon into the game and balls over the top of Ashley Cole for the winger to run onto were being pinged from deep.  Unfortunately, Aaron's delivery in the first half was not up to his improving standard, but on one occasion, Cole took the ball off him by the dead ball line, then tried to be too clever with it.  I am not sure what he was attempting, but he only succeeded in knocking the ball against his other leg and off for a corner.  Interestingly, on a day when Wayne Rooney was sent off for a second caution for throwing the ball away, the despicable Chelsea defender hurled the ball out towards the corner flag for no apparent reason other than he could not accept his over-blown opinion of his ability could not be borne out in fact.

Robbie Keane almost opened the scoring when a long ball from Gomes' free-kick saw Darren Bent try to flick it on and the ball bounced over him and Alex got unde rit too, leaving Keane through in the left side of the box.  He hit a first time shot as the ball bounced up kindly and Cech had to beat it away with both hands at his near post in the 18th minute.  From the corner, King was beaten to it by Drogba, who hit the floor and stayed there.  It really is unnatural the relationship that man has with the turf. 

With 25 minutes gone, Keane had a second opportunity to breach the Chelsea defence.  Vedran Corluka got the ball inside the Chelsea half and moved forward.  As three defenders parted in front of him, he strode forward and played the ball square to Robbie, who took a first time shot and the low effort was stopped by Cech in the centre of his goal.  Anywhere else and the keeper would not have had a chance to save, but Alex got in front of the Spurs skipper and he was limited in where he could put his shot.

Just after the half hour, a long ball from Lampard out to Drogba on the left, saw the Ivorian volley across the middle of the penalty area, with no player form either side there to shoot or clear.  It ran across to the other wing where Belletti pulled it back for Anelka to strike on goal with a first time shot, but Gomes was alert to push the ball wide at his near post.  Drogba got over King at the corner, but also got over the bar with his header.

Spurs were breaking quickly and when Palacios put Keane away on the left, he went a bit too wide and hoped to find Darren Bent at the far post, but never got the ball high enough and it came off Alex to be collected by Cech.  Shortly after the Chelsea goalie had to be on his toes, as Modric's floated free-kick was back headed by King, but it went high into the air, causing a bit of panic, as Cech had to back-pedal quickly to grab the ball which looked like it might have looped over him.

Chelsea were getting some cheap free-kicks from Mr. Dean, but Lampost was so out of sorts, he couldn't even get any luck from his gifts.  In truth the most effective thing he did in the game was to make a rude gesture to Tottenham fans, as everything that came from his feet showed why the Blues were mis-firing.  Over-hit passes, lack of imagination and an unnecessary over-physical involvement meant his focus was shifted from what he was supposed to be doing.  As an experienced player you might have expected more from him.

It took Mike Dean 46 minutes to book Belletti for a string of offences and the only thing that could come after that was the half time whistle.

For Spurs, it was a good half, but you felt they would come out and have a go at Chelsea in the second half, because they knew that Manchester United were losing and down to ten men, so had to make up some ground by winning.  That would give Tottenham openings and space to get at them.

And, just as last week, five minutes into the half, Spurs scored.  Initially, it looked as if Luka Modric's run down the left was going nowhere.  He knocked the ball past Bosingwa, who got his body between player and ball, but kept it in as it approached the dead ball line and played it infield to a colleague, who got tackled and the ball had to be hacked away.  It went straight to Jonathan Woodgate in the centre circle and he cleverly headed wide right to Aaron Lennon.  With Cole nervy about the winger's pace, he over-run his tracking back and Lennon stopped the ball dead to give him a yard of space.  He struck a firm ball across the edge of the area and Modric had made an intelligent run to meet the ball first time and strike it low into the bottom corner past Cech's diving effort to keep it out.  Robbie Keane was there too, just in case Modric didn't get there.

The little midfielder's dive to the corner flag showed how delighted he was and the whole celebration gave rise to silence in the blue corner of the Lane.  They had been singing "It's so quiet at the Lane" and in their section, it certainly was. 

The goal seemed to inspire Spurs and Palacios' ball put Bent away down the left, before he squared it to Jenas, who struck his shot wide from 20 yards out.  Ledley King glanced a header off target from Modric's corner and then a move that was similar to that which brought the goal failed to produce a second, as goalkeeper Cech grabbed Modric's shot from Lennon's cross as it bounced up this time, instead of nestled low in the net.  Even Corluka was getting in on the action, as he worked a neat move on the right with Jenas, but as he went into the box, he lost control at the vital moment.

Hiddink brought on Queresma for Belletti and it failed to add any charisma to the side.  Having turned down Spurs for Stamford Bridge, the Portuguese winger set up a chance for Lampost at the far post, but Corluka blocked his header and then a chance for Drogba's shot that Gomes beat away at his near post and then Queresma's shot was easily held by the keeper when the resulting corner was cleared. 

Spurs were taking advantage of Chelsea's need to get forward and were hitting on the break.  One move in the 70th minute saw Jenas and Bent put Lennon away, but as his ball in came out outside the box, Keane struck it first time and it flew just over the crossbar. 

A couple of quick yellow cards came for Modric and Palacios and from one of them a free-kick was swung in and Terry rose highest to head powerfully downwards.  The ball was just going inside the post, but Gomes dived full length to palm the ball away and then knock it behind for a corner.  It was a fine stop and from the corner, he punched the ball away and Modric won it to release Lennon on the right wing.  He had put a good distance between him and Cole but as he tried to fire in a fierce cross, he unfortunately hit it straight over the bar.

Chelsea's resort to the long ball into the box indicated their lack of imagination and reliance of piling their heavyweights into the area.  It paid off, but not as well as they wanted.  they won balls in the air, but Drogba headed wide when he crept in behind Ledley and Alex climbed all over the Spurs central defender to win a header only to power it down into the ground, for it to bounce up onto the bar and out.  Gomes swiped at the ball as it came down and got it away.  The keeper's last save of the game to deny Malouda brought a corner and when it was heaved into the box, a scramble took place and it went wide as the final whistle blew on four minutes of added time that stretched to about six, as Dean stopped his watch even when Chelsea were taking their time.

For a few seasons now Chelsea have been good at what they do, but they have been unloved, as they grind out results.  They do not play the beautiful game, but the efficient one.  Perhaps Scolari failed as he is more used to playing a more open game and that was why he was shown the door.  You might have thought that a German manager might be the ideal person to take charge of this side.

But by matching them for work rate and using the ball well, Tottenham opened them up enough times to cause them concern and got back behind the ball to make it hard for them to create too many good opportunities.  Their style is not amenable to having to think to open other sides up instead of them rolling over.

Spurs haven't had much joy over Chelsea since the Premier League started, but maybe now that we are a four game unbeaten run against them, it might be that they no longer hold a fear for the Lilywhites.



Reaction : -



Read Wyart Lane's view of the game at the Times Online Fanzine Fanzone by clicking here.
At 17.40 this afternoon I put on BBC Ceefax to look at the bottom half of the Premier League and Tottenham aren't in it.  How good does that feel ?

For the first time this season, we are back where we belong in the top half.  Three wins on the bounce - 14 points from the last 18 - at last the team is beginning to click.

I admit I have had my doubts about Harry, but slowly but surely the team is pulling together as one.  It just goes to show what a stupid decision to let Keane, Defoe and Berbatov all leave at the start of the season was , leaving us a toothless tiger. 

Keane again superb.  Modric out of this world today.  The threat of relegation has all but gone in the space of three games. 

I take my hat off to Spurs today. This is a big big turning point in the foundation of the team.  We have to resist any transfer moves for the players we have now and keep all the players to start with the same squad apart from the deadwood.  Add a few new signings next year and we should be pushing for Europe again. 

Not many teams have started the season with two points from eight games and survived, but it looks like we will do it with games to spare. 

Fantastic defence today -- King.  Woodgate.  Gomes excellent -- that's now ten points we have taken from the top four teams

With Man Utd losing and a late kick off for us, Chelsea had their best chance to close the gap.  I don't think they will get another one, but as Windsor Davis said in  BBC TV's comedy show "It Ain't 'Arf Hot Mum", "Oh dear, What a shame, Never mind."

I'm off to have a few beers ... nothing like beating Chelsea to make you thirsty.



What a performance by Spurs.  At the start of the season, I could never have thought we could get anything like this from the same bunch of players, although the addition of Palacios has added a new facet to the team.  However, against Chelsea, they all worked their socks off and got their rewards for it. 

In the last few games, we have held United to a 0-0, beaten Villa 2-1 and Chelsea 1-0.  As ever with Tottenham, we now need to go out and beat the lower placed teams and get some consistency.  I think Europe might be too far out of our reach now, but next season, without that "hindrance", we might actually have a more consistent campaign and with a couple of additions to the squad, it might be possible to challenge for Europe again.

barrington levy




Other scores this weekend :
Blackburn Rovers 1 West Ham United 1 Saturday
Fulham 2 Manchester United 0 Saturday
Newcastle United 1 Arsenal 3 Saturday
Portsmouth 2 Everton 1 Saturday
Stoke City 1 Middlesbrough 0 Saturday
West Bromwich Albion 1 Bolton Wanderers 1 Saturday
Liverpool 5 Aston Villa 0 Sunday
Manchester City 1 Sunderland 0 Sunday
Wigan Athletic 1 Hull City 0 Sunday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester United 29 20 5 4 49 18 65 +31
2 Liverpool 30 18 10 2 54 21 64 +33
3 Chelsea 30 18 7 5 49 17 61 +32
4 Arsenal 30 15 10 5 48 28 55 +20
5 Aston Villa 30 15 7 8 43 36 52 +7
6 Everton 30 13 9 8 40 31 48 +9
7 Wigan Athletic 30 11 8 11 30 28 41 +2
8 West Ham United 30 11 8 11 35 35 41 0
9 Fulham 30 10 10 10 30 26 40 +4
10 Manchester City 30 11 5 14 46 37 38 +9
11 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 30 10 8 12 36 34 38 +2
12 Bolton Wanderers 30 10 4 16 32 44 34 -12
13 Hull City 30 8 9 13 35 52 33 -17
14 Sunderland 30 8 8 14 29 39 32 -10
15 Portsmouth 29 8 8 13 32 46 32 -14
16 Stoke City 30 8 8 14 29 47 32 -18
17 Blackburn Rovers 30 7 10 13 33 49 31 -16
18 Newcastle United 30 6 12 13 36 49 29 -13
19 Middlesbrough 30 6 9 15 21 42 27 -21
20 West Bromwich Albion 30 6 6 18 26 55 24 -29


Position before the match :  11th
Position after the match :   9th
Position after the weekend :  11th


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