FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
SUNDAY 3RD NOVEMBER, 2002
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0 (0) CHELSEA 0 (0)
Referee:- Rob Styles
N.B:- Not Mark Halsey as published. Another referee took over as linesman for the second half - Andy D'Urso!
Spurs (4-4-2):- Keller; Carr, Perry, Richards, Bunjevcevic; Davies, Redknapp, Freund, Poyet (sub Acimovic, 72); Sheringham (Capt) (sub Ferdinand, 89), Keane (Captain's armband handed to Redknapp)
Subs not used:- Hirschfeld; Gardner; Etherington
Booked:- Sheringham, Acimovic, Keller
Chelsea (4-4-2):- Cudicini; Melchiot, Gallas, Desailly (Capt), Babayaro; Morris, Lampard, Petit, De Lucas (sub Oliveira, 86); Zola, Hasselbaink (sub Gudjohnsen, 43)
Subs not used:- Pidgeley; Ferrer, Terry
Booked:- Morris, De Lucas
Spurs ended a run of 11 games without a draw, and some 49 games since a 0-0 draw which was on the opening game of last season, but they still cannot end that awful league run against Chelsea. You won't get any more statistics out of me in this report, but it will be a few years yet before we can even begin to match the Blues' Premiership success against us, as we got only our 8th point in 21 Premiership games against them.
Cudicini was arguably the man of the match today, as he made a string of fine saves today, notably to deny Jamie Redknapp from a free kick, and Teddy Sheringham from one of those corners, where Teddy meets the kick at the near post. Most pundits seem to think that Spurs had the better of the second half, but I thought Chelsea looked more and more dangerous on the break in the latter stages. They also seemed to display more off the ball movement with Gudjohnsen in the fray, after Hasselbaink left the field injured in the first half. Hasselbaink got no sympathy from the Spurs crowd as referee Styles halted the play as Jimmy Floyd writhed in so-called agony to bring a useful Spurs attack to and end. Hasselbaink did not have to be stretchered off, as the referee feared, but limped off VERY slowly.
Gianfranco Zola continues to bely the years, as he darted around and had a number of half chances to score. It is difficult to pick out any one of the Spurs team. Sky went for Jamie Redknapp, but Richards and Perry had another superb game at the heart of defence, whilst Carr impressed today with his support for Davies in attack, several great runs of his own, and strong support for his centre-backs too. Glenn Hoddle went for the same line up as last Saturday (including the bench), and it was no surprise when Gus Poyet was replaced by Acimovic after 72 minutes. However, there was to be no goal-making for Milenko this week. Poyet of course, is Hoddle's man, and must have needed wild horses to keep him out of this game, but Spurs did lack width down the left, as Bunjevcevic, despite being strongly left-footed, tends to cut inside rather than out. Hence, Chelsea were able to marshall their defensive forces accordingly, as they concentrated on keeping Simon Davies and Stephen Carr at bay.
The game started in bright sunshine, and once again, Teddy won the toss and played towards the home support in the North Stand in the first half. He may have been hoping for sun in Cudicini's eyes, but the crowd and not the keeper were the only ones affected. On the seven minute mark, the tempo seemed to be set for the game, as there was danger at both ends. First Chris Perry did well to block Enrique De Lucas's run into the box, leading to a corner. From the kick, Kasey Keller retrieved the ball and quickly sent Simon Davies away down the right wing. Davies made it all the way into the penalty area before being blocked himself. The ball reached Robbie Keane beyond the back post, and his cross shot was also cleared. Soon after this Melchiot threaded a ball through to Zola down the inside right channel. Zola's cross shot was wide of the mark.
After 13 minutes, Jamie Redknapp sent a great cross-field pass from right to left. Bunjevcevic passed inside to Poyet who fed Robbie Keane. After a little bit of trickery, Robbie passed back to Freund who hit a dipping shot just over, even before we could shout "SHOOT!". Then Stephen Carr hit a lovely cross from just inside the Chelsea half to the back post. Keane made the run and should really have hit the target, but he was wide of Cudicini's right post.
Hasselbaink was presented with a shooting chance by Carr, after the Dutchman had tried to put De Lucas through. Carr's clearance was short and fell to Hasselbaink, whose right foot drive was a yard wide. Referee Styles seemed to have a game of two halves. He was with us in the first, but went the other way after the break. After 25 minutes, he penalised Desailly for a foul against Sheringham as the ball had been cleared. The kick was 25 yards out, and Robbie Keane set it up for Redknapp, who flicked it up and shot (a la Bolton), only to be denied by a marvellous flying save from that man Cudicini, who just got his upper hand to the ball, as it dipped underneath the bar.
Keller had to be sharp ten minutes later, when Spurs lost the ball in the middle and Zola put Lampard away. Kasey was out well in the one on one situation and saved at Lampard's feet. There was more danger for Spurs as De Lucas was sent away on a run, and Stephen Carr chased back to assist Richards. Between them, they did enough to ensure the Spaniard hit the ball wide.
In the second half cloud and rain, Spurs were out of the stalls fastest, as Robbie Keane started and so nearly finished off a great move. From the left, Robbie passed inside to Redknapp, and the ball was sent to Carr via Davies. Carr got to the bye line and sent a deep cross which Robbie headed over the bar. Five minutes later, Keane did well to win a corner from a long ball by Freund. The kick was taken by Jamie Redknapp, and headed down strongly by Dean Richards. The ball was cleared away from in front of the keeper. Then Cudicini saved from Gus Poyet at close range before making another great save to just tip Sheringham's hooked shot over from another corner. Teddy's shot had hit the ground first, and would just have crept under the bar, had the keeper not been able to do his work.
Having had so many great opportunities, things got a bit edgy, as Chelsea were awarded free kicks in dangerous positions. Zola's kick from the left near the corner flag was headed backwards by Melchiot, and hit the post with Desailly following up, but failing to make contact. Then Redknapp needlessly lost the ball, putting the defence under pressure before Perry was harshly deemed to have committed a foul just outside the box. Zola's kick was less than a yard wide of Keller's left post, with the keeper struggling. Keller was later to be booked for kicking the ball away after another decision against Spurs in a similar position.
Robbie Keane lost the ball in the middle after a little over-elaboration, and Zola was away again. For a 36 year old he is very fleet of foot! Gudjohnsen again found space, and Perry did well to block him, so that Keller had a weak shot to pick up. There was time for Cudicini to make another good save - this time from a Sheringham header from a corner, before Zola just failed to make contact with a Lampard ball at the back post.
This was one of those very exciting 0-0 draws, and I cannot imagine that any of the 36,049 crowd went away disappointed with the football on display. Spurs remain in fifth place, and as Glenn Hoddle said after the game, we can see that progress is being made, but we need to go on that other step to be able to beat teams like Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Man Utd.
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