FA BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY 15TH JANUARY, 2005
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0 (0) CHELSEA 2 (1)
Lampard (pen) 39, 90
Referee:- Graham Poll
Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Pamarot (sub Marney, 70), Naybet, King (Capt.), Edman; Mendes (sub Yeates, 77), Carrick, Brown, Ziegler (sub Gardner, 66); Keane, Defoe
Subs not used:- Fulop; Kelly
Booked:- Brown, Yeates
Chelsea (4-3-2-1):- Cech; Johnson, Gallas, Terry (Capt.), Ferreira; Smertin (sub Jarosik, 69), Makelele, Lampard; Duff (sub Cole, 79), Robben; Drogba (sub Gudjohnsen, 75)
Subs not used:- Cudicini; Bridge
Booked:- Duff, Johnson, Terry, Makelele
Despite the fact there are still 15 games to play in this season's Premiership, it's tempting to say that Spurs lost to the Champions Elect today. Jose Mourinho is too professional to see it that way of course, and Arsenal and Manchester United will not give up the chase although they are 10 and 11 points adrift respectively. Chelsea created a new Premiership record of 6 consecutive wins with clean sheets today, whilst Spurs lost their 8 match unbeaten run, and of course failed to end that embarrassing barren era without a league win over their West London rivals.
Spurs fans can hold their heads high though, and their team was deservedly applauded off the pitch, after a game in which they did match their victors in almost every area of the pitch. The figures show that possession was about even, as were shots off target. The on target quote was lacking for Spurs though, with a first half effort from Jermain Defoe the only notable test for Petr Cech. Indeed until Chelsea's injury time second goal, Spurs could justifiably have claimed to have been deprived by the officials (or one in particular - Graham Poll), as Frank Lampard had converted a 39th minute penalty, after Ledley King had been harshly adjudged to have fouled Smertin. Replays at half time showed that the Russian had fallen theatrically. After all, Ledley hardly ever fouls, never mind gets a booking, and his first foul of the season (possibly his last) was at Stamford Bridge in mid-September.
The home fans were deeply un-impressed with the antics of Arjen Robben, falling almost at will about three times. His last such effort was woefully mis-timed as he had yet to reach his opponent in the Spurs box, Dean Marney - on for Pamarot. Mr. Poll certainly did not seem to favour the home side, and many decisions were a mystery today.
The Chelsea formation of two wide men behind the main striker was maintained today, but the team featured a few changes, with Drogba getting the nod over Gudjohnsen, Smertin in the midfield, and Ferreira at left back, with Gallas playing beside Terry in the middle. Glen Johnson made up the water-tight back four. Spurs called upon their first choice defence, and their best available midfield, with Mendes on the right, and Ziegler on the left. They did of course miss Fredi Kanoute up front, and Martin Jol's second half changes in strategy demonstrated only too well how much they missed a target man.
The full house saw a Spurs make a good start with a couple of flowing moves in the opening minutes, as the sun dipped below the West Stand. Mendes and Keane combined and the ball was switched to the left where Edman worried Cech with a right foot shot just outside the keeper's right post. Michael Brown then won a midfield battle, and switched the play from left to right. This time Pamarot and Mendes worked together and Pamarot's ball was chipped on by Defoe, with Robbie Keane heading over the target.
The game was rarely exciting, and a fair while passed before the midfield chess allowed a long ball down the left channel by Chelsea. There was no flag against Drogba, ahead of Naybet, and beating the advancing Robinson to the ball, before chipping his shot that bounced outside the net, with Ledley just about making his ground. Then, after 19 minutes, came Spurs best chance. Set up by Carrick and Keane, Defoe cut inside from the left and hit a shot that Cech could only parry towards the sidelines. There followed a period of play that was stretched, and let there be no doubt that the home side did take the game to their opponents. There was danger when Drogba broke but Ledley made a great saving tackle on the edge of the Spurs box.
Spurs were playing with style, and a lot of their attacks came from the right, where Mendes worked tirelessly and effectively. A ball was headed down by Keane and Defoe nearly got a shot on goal, but the ball was cleared. Robinson made a good save diving to his left, as he spotted Duff's shot through a sea of legs after Johnson's cross from the right. After a free kick, Carrick floated the ball to Ledley at the back of the area. Ledley passed back to Mendes whose deft shot across Cech was outside the post.
Then came the penalty. Duff had somehow managed to retrieve the ball that looked like going out in front of the away end, passed inside and Smertin made that fall under King's challenge. Referee Poll pointed straight to the spot, and being the polite guy that he is, Ledley did not make the sort of fuss that you see from other teams. Lampard hit the shot to Robinson's left. The keeper went the right way, but the ball was well-placed just beyond his finger-tips.
Spurs started well after the break, with another ball swiped off Defoe's feet, before Robbie Keane went down in the box, with no sympathy from the referee. Spurs were defending higher at this stage, and with Drogba under control, Ledley started to linger forward. He pressed Cech to good effect to win a corner, which led to a Carrick shot being blocked after an interchange between Defoe and Ziegler. Defoe took a corner in the 59th minute, which floated across the goal, had a touch from Smertin, and only just passed outside the back post. Chelsea's sole chance during this spell came from a Duff cross, which Drogba headed over from 10 yards.
Martin Jol certainly pulled out all the stops in an effort to get something from the game. He replaced Ziegler with Gardner, allowing Ledley to take up centre-forward duties and Robbie Keane to switch to the left. Indeed the first ball into the Chelsea area caused some havoc and led to an on-target Carrick shot being blocked in front of the post. Edman's 70th minute cross was headed back by Ledley to Defoe, who set up Mendes for a shot across the goal and wide. Now Marney replaced Pamarot, and Dean's first cross reached Robbie Keane at the back of the area. Keane had time to place his shot, but he fired wildly over the goal by a mile.
Jol's last throw of the dice was Yeates for Mendes. Yeates played on the left without success against Johnson. Tempers started to get fraught, and Makelele was lucky to get only a yellow for firstly pushing, and then a further case of a raised hand. The resulting free kick for Spurs was dollied by Carrick to the keeper. A lack of concentration in injury time from a defensive throw led to Gudjohnsen being allowed to break through, get to the goal-line and cut back for Lampard to complete his and Chelsea's day with a second goal. Two might have become three, as Duff had a shot that beat Robinson, but drifted just the right side of the post from a Spurs point of view.
Only when Lampard scored the second goal did the visiting fans really start to crow. Even most of them would accept that beating Spurs is not as easy as they used to find it, despite their multi-million talent. Spurs, and their fans, should go forward from this game, with every reason for hope of good results and progress in the Premiership, and perhaps even the FA Cup, where maybe we'll play Chelsea again!
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