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Chelsea v Spurs, 01.02.03

FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY 1ST FEBRUARY, 2003
CHELSEA 1 (1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (1)

Chelsea scorer:-
Zola, 40

Spurs scorer:-
Sheringham, 17

Attendance:- 41,384

Referee:- Paul Durkin

Teams:-
Chelsea (4-4-2):- Cudicini; Gallas, Terry, Desailly (Capt), Le Saux (sub Hasselbaink, 71); Gronkjaer (sub Cole, 86), Lampard, Petit, Zenden (sub Melchiot, 46); Zola, Gudjohnssen

Subs not used:- De Goey; Morris

Booked:- Petit (foul on Carr)

Spurs (4-4-2):- Keller; Carr, King, Gardner (sub Doherty, 36), Taricco; Davies, Anderton, Bunjevcevic, Poyet; Sheringham (Capt), Iversen (sub Etherington, 79)

Subs not used:- Sullivan; Freund, Acimovic

Booked:- Taricco (foul on Gronkjaer)

For the first time in seven seasons, Chelsea have failed to beat Spurs, either at home or away. Despite the absence of Injured Robbie Keane, and Dean Richards, and also the setback of losing Anthony Gardner through a hamstring injury after only 36 minutes, Spurs earnt, and I mean earnt, an excellent point at Stamford Bridge.

This was a cracking game, with both keepers forced to make great saves. In Cudicini's case there were excellent saves from Davies and Poyet, and for Keller there were some desperate saves to make from various quarters. Spurs enjoyed some great possession in the first half hour and deservedly went ahead through 36 year old Teddy Sheringham, before his contemporary, the excellent Gianfranco Zola equalised with a spectacular free kick, which qualifies as one of the best goals scored against Tottenham this season. I hesitate to mention the other memorable goal that comes to mind and which was scored at the wrong end of the Seven Sisters Road.

Refreshingly, Glenn is sticking to 4-4-2, and although we only have one point from the two games this week, no-one can deny the level of performance has been worth a greater return. Stars for Spurs today, in my view, were Stephen Carr, who ran endlessly up and down, and defended magnificently, often coming to the rescue of the central defence. Darren Anderton too warrants praise, as he supported both left and right flanks, as was seen to good effect in the marvellous 5-1 win last season. Mauricio Taricco was often second best to Gronkjaer, with no-one directly in front of him most of the time, as Poyet played a more central role.

Glenn Hoddle demanded support from the fans for Steffen Iversen in his programme notes for the Newcastle game, but (sorry Glenn) it was an impossible task today. He just did not read the game at all well, and was correctly substituted, although Etherington could have been introduced earlier than the 79th minutes.

Chelsea threatened to score first after 5 minutes when Gronkjaer crossed and Zola's shot was blocked by Ledley King in the 6 yard box. Zola's follow up shot was saved by Keller and Stephen Carr headed the ball safely over the bar for a corner. Spurs started to play some pretty football in the middle and Iversen had already failed to make one threaded ball his, when he lost the chase against Desailly, before he headed an Anderton cross wide of the right post. Then Simon Davies did well to control a Keller clearance, passed back to Carr, and raced for the return ball down the inside right channel, only to be beaten by the advancing Cudicini.

On the quarter hour mark, Stephen Carr carried the ball out of defence through a middle line, and Teddy collected the pass on the right. Sheringham took a little too much time before he passed inside to Bunjevcevic. Goran found Iversen, who did flick the ball to Davies, whose shot from inside the right of the box was matched by an excellent save from the keeper. Teddy's follow-up shot was not directed as well as it might have been and was blocked by the defensive wall.

After such an exciting spell, it was no surprise when Spurs took a lead after 17 minutes. Darren Anderton carried the ball down the left and hit a shot/cross which Cudicini could only touch into the direction of Sheringham, who scored from close range. Teddy raced to the front row of the Spurs crowd and took part in an ecstatic group hug!

Chelsea responded well, and Taricco got booked for a late challenge on Gronkjaer on the right. Shortly after a cross from the right beat Ledley King, and Simon Davies did well to take the sting out of Zenden's shot which was saved by Keller. Cudicini frustrated us at The Lane in November with a string of fine saves, and after 28 minutes he denied Gus Poyet a cracking right foot goal, when he flew to save the 20 yard shot, after Sheringham had teed it up. On the half hour, Keller had to fly to save from Lampard, but could not hold the shot. Zenden followed up and it was Ledley who spectacularly cleared the ball off the line as Davies and Zola were sprawled on the ground in the desperate scramble for the ball.

Sadly, Anthony Gardner had to leave with a hamstring injury, and will be out for a few weeks too. Such a shame when he has only just returned from injury, and has been impressing so much this week. It was a bit of a surprise to see Gary Doherty get the nod over Chris Perry, but he did alright anyway. With five minutes to go before the break, Simon Davies was penalised for pushing Zenden, who probably made more of the challenge than necessary, but Davies did have both hands up his back. Up stepped Zola, to curl a magnificent unstoppable right foot free kick into Keller's top left corner.

Chelsea were turning up the pressure, but it was Spurs who came nearest to scoring before half time, when Ledley made a forward run, and passed to Iversen who turned in a left foot shot, which had no power and went straight to the keeper. After the break, Ranieri introduced Melchiot for Zenden. Melchiot took over the right back slot, which had been filled by Gallas, who switched to the left.

On 52 minutes, Lampard hit a 25 yarder that was goal bound, but was deflected wide by Gudjohnssen. Keller did have the shot covered, in my opinion. Most of the Chelsea attacks were coming down the right, where Taricco was vulnerable against Gronkjaer. Gudjohnssen forced another save from Keller who was having trouble holding his shots today, and this time it was Ledley who came to the rescue to ultimately clear the ball.

Spurs were now attacking occasionally, but it was a good move from Carr on the right, through Anderton in the middle, to Taricco whose cross from the left was touched first time towards goal by Teddy, forcing Cudicini to stretch upwards and to the left to catch the ball. Gronkjaer fed Zola in a good position in the middle but the little Italian scuffed his shot wide, when he was in space. Then Melchiot fed Gudjohnssen whose shot was saved by Keller, but the ball was running agonisingly to Melchiot again, who shot but Keller saved cleanly this time.

Hasselbaink was introduced after 71 minutes for Le Saux. Spurs had a great attack out of their own half, led by Simon Davies with an overhead kick to Iversen. Iversen found Anderton who ran towards the right from centre, and passed to Carr who had made an advanced position. It looked like Carr would hit a thunderous shot, but he chose to pass back, and the danger was cleared. Etherington replaced Iversen and gave the Chelsea defence some pace and penetration to worry about. He also had a shot saved by Cudicini after good work from Teddy and Poyet, but the shot did lack strength.

So it was a good day out on the football front, although we have slipped to ninth behind Charlton who had an excellent win at Sunderland today. Next week we face the Black Cats in our first Saturday home league game since September 28th, when we lost to Middlesbrough. It is to be hoped that we can give the Wearsiders a further nudge towards the Nationwide league, and build a challenge for a UEFA Cup slot.

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