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Chelsea v Spurs, 11.04.98

"It was Twenty Years ago today!"
article published April, 2018, but first written in 1998

FA PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 11TH APRIL, 1998
CHELSEA 2(0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0(0)

Scorers:- Flo, 75
Vialli, 88

Referee:- Paul Durkin

Attendance:- 34,149

Teams:- Chelsea:- De Goey; Petrescu, Duberry, Leboeuf, Clarke, Le Saux, Morris (sub Myers, 84), Harley (sub Poyet, 84), Vialli, Flo, Wise

Spurs:- Walker; Carr, Vega, Campbell, Nielsen; Fox, Berti (sub Anderton, 82), Saib; Ginola; Klinsmann (sub Calderwood, 67), Armstrong (sub Ferdinand, 57)

Subs not used:- Bardsen; Scales.

Spurs were sucked right back into the mire of a full-blooded relegation battle today, as not only did they lose their own game, but all bar one of the teams around them won, to put the pressure fully back on, after Spurs went into this game with a 4 point cushion. Only Newcastle, of their competitors, lost today, and to rub salt into the wound, that loss was to arch-rivals Arsenal, who are now quoted as favourites for the championship, and only 7/4 for the double.

Spurs were able to name almost a full-strength squad for this game, missing only a recognised left-back. ( Some would say that has been the case for the whole season ). Nielsen was called to fill the spot for this game.

In the first half, Spurs seemed to dominate possession, although rarely theatening goal. The only chances I recall were an Armstrong header, and a half-hit shot from Saib. Chelsea always looked dangerous on the break, and Flo was surely their best player, giving even Sol Campbell a hard time, but mainly exploiting the weakness on Spurs' left flank,where for my money, Neilsen was not up to the task given to him. Too often he was behind the pace, but to give the credit to Flo, he waas able to wrong-foot any defender, and create a lot of space for himself, and in the second half, Vialli.

Spurs' approach play looked good, and at times, they comfortable held possession, without exploiting their dominance. Saib was capable of penetrating, and Berti always willing to hunt for the ball, but at times they were lax with their passing. Ginola's skill was on display in the first half, but he mostly disappeared from view in the second.

Chelsea came out fighting in the second half, and were on top for much of this session. There was more needle to the game after the break, and there were several skirmishes, which surprisingly did not lead to many yellow cards being displayed by referee "Durkin the Gherkin". In Spurs fans eyes, his main error will be seen to be the failure to award a penalty when Klinsmann was clearly brought down by a late, high tackle by Duberry. This is the second time in as many weeks that Spurs have not been awarded a blatant penalty, and this one could have been the turning point of the game.

I can see the fourth "electronic official - a la test cricket" being introduced before long. In this case there was a long pause, whilst Klinsmann received treatment, which could have allowed consultation of an electronic aide. However, only a corner resulted. Another frustration was that Armstrong had already been replaced by Ferdinand,and when Klinsmann had to succumb to the injury resulting from the Duberry tackle, Calderwood of all people was the chosen replacement.

Spurs seemed to lose their shape completely in the second half, and it really only seemed a matter of time before the first goal came. The introduction of Anderton for Berti did not improve things, and Chelsea scored in the last 15 minutes with incisive goals from Flo, and Vialli.

Ferdinand put a header wide from a cross by Fox, and Spurs hit the bar in their last attack, with a looping header, but it was too little, too late.

It hurt that Chelsea were able to achieve this result without Hughes, or Zola, and that we produced one of our worst performances since that horrible home defeat by the same team, with such a strong squad assembled.

Now that Bolton and Barnsley are only a point behind us, it really does look like our fight will go on till the last day of the season.

Read the preview for this game.
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