FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY 13TH SEPTEMBER, 2003
CHELSEA 4 (2) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (1)
Mutu, 37, 75
Kanoute, 25, 87
Referee:- Graham Poll
Chelsea (4-3-1-2):- Cudicini; Melchiot, Terry, Desailly (Capt), Babayaro; Gronkjaer (sub Gallas, 70), Lampard, Petit (sub Makelele, 65); Duff (sub Cole, 73); Mutu, Hasselbaink
Subs not used:- Ambrosio; Gudjohnsen
Booked:- Petit, Hasselbaink
Spurs (3-5-2):- Keller; King (sub Bunjevcevic, 39), Richards, Gardner; Carr, Anderton (sub Dalmat, 60), Redknapp (Capt), Ricketts, Taricco (sub Konchesky, 67); Kanoute, Zamora
Subs not used:- Burch; Postiga
Booked:- Zamora, Taricco, Redknapp, Dalmat
Until Frank Lampard popped up at the back post unmarked to head home a 35th minute equaliser, we were in dreamland. Spurs had gone a goal up through Fredi Kanoute's 25th minute strike to silence the home crowd, who were expecting to watch the usual slaughter of the once-great Tottenham Hotspur. At the same time, we heard that Teddy Sheringham had put Portsmouth 1 up at Highbury. Those dreams were soon broken as two minutes after Lampard's goal, star striker Adrian Mutu scored the first of two goals, and one then felt that the game was only going one way.
Spurs had started brightly. They were successfully defending high up the field, and Kasey Keller was being troubled rarely. Spurs had very early attacks through Zamora and Kanoute, before Redknapp forced Cudicini to make a good save in the opening minutes. Anderton hit a ball too long for Kanoute, and then Jamie Redknapp sent a ball into the area; Zamora got behind Desailly, but put his shot wide.
The Spurs wing-backs were not getting forward much, and too often, the strikers lacked support, as young Ricketts was often left with the donkey work on the left to try and carry the ball forward. Redknapp needed men in space to aim at, but there were none available. Surprisingly, Chelsea started with only two additions to a side that could have played the same game last season. Mutu and Duff were the only Abramovich starters, but they did introduce Makelele and Cole in the second half. Crespo was not anywhere in sight, and you can add Veron and Bridge to the list of absentees. No doubt Claudio Ranieri had his eyes on next week's Champions' League match, but it's coming to something when you can afford to rest your International players after their two week break!
For a while though, the Chelsea manager and the home fans must have thought they had grossly under-estimated the visitors. The only real pressure Spurs suffered was around the quarter-hour mark, after Redknapp fouled Duff, who was enjoying the freedom to wander across the field behind the front two, and was abruptly brought down after a typical run from left to right. Hasselbaink's free kick was cleared, and the Spurs defence was strong in keeping the Blues at bay.
Kanoute's goal came out of the blue, as Spurs had long since ceased to trouble Cudicini. Anderton did just about the only creative thing he managed all afternoon, lifting a ball into the area. Kanoute's strength got him behind Melchiot and Terry, and he had an easy finish with a low shot past the keeper. It was a great feeling, but sadly not to be savoured for long enough.
Bobby Zamora got the first booking of the day off referee Poll, when he chased back into his own half but brought down Babayaro, having only his second outing of the season so far. Spurs blocked efforts from Mutu and Hasselbaink, but then succumbed to a sucker punch. Gronkjaer sent a long cross from the right, and nobody had tracked Lampard's run from behind the strikers, as he was all alone at the back post to head down into the corner to the right of Keller, who was left pretty helpless. Spurs had now lost their composure and concentration, as two minutes later, Hasselbaink started the attack from just inside the Spurs half, sending Duff away through the middle. Duff threaded a ball down the inside left, and Mutu was behind the defence to slot home.
Ledley King was already suffering what is possibly a hamstring injury and had to be replaced by Bunjevcevic. Dean Richards moved to the right of the three and Bunjee went in the middle. One wonders if Ledley has been selected again, before being fully fit. I feel that his movement was already limited to allow the second goal.
Dean Richards did have the ball in the net from an Anderton corner, but was adjudged to have pushed a defender. Keller had to make a great save when he must have been unsighted for Lampard's 22 yard shot, and then, just before the break Zamora had Cudicini off his line and out of his area to clear. Rohan Ricketts was not far off scoring a wonder goal with a 40 yard shot that landed on the top netting, with the Chelsea keeper out of his ground, and Terry struggling to get back to head clear.
Spurs were not to threaten Cudicini much in the second half, and the pattern of play was generally in favour of the home side, without being too much of a threat. I felt that World Cup Linesman Phil Sharp was 5-10 yards ahead of the play at times, and am certain he missed at least two offsides. I suspect that both Chelsea's third and fourth goals were offside, but will wait for the TV evidence to make my mind up.(Okay - I was wrong)
Darren Anderton was replaced by Dalmat (wearing number 11), who very soon showed the same skills that we had seen in the Reserves' game last Monday. He did not get enough of the ball to make a great impression, but within two minutes he did make a great cross after being fed by Kanoute. Zamora made contact with the cross but it was a looping and deflected effort that the keeper collected with ease.
Duff threaded a ball to Mutu who brought a good low save from Keller. Mid-way through the half, Paul Konchesky made his Spurs debut (wearing Iversen's 16), replacing Taricco, who had been booked. Konchesky had an impressive 25 minutes, bringing pace to the left side, and towards the end of the game, moving up front, when Hoddle reverted to a 4-4-2.
Chelsea made it a two goal lead with fifteen minutes to go. Makelele carried the ball from left to right, fed Cole, who threaded the ball to Mutu (I thought offside) to hit home for his fourth goal in just three games. Joe Cole was then allowed a straight run through the middle, hitting a low shot that was parried by Keller. Mutu was there, ready for his hat-trick, but hit the shot wide of the target.
With three minutes left, Spurs were within reach again, as the ball reached Richards following a throw on the left. Richards cracked a shot that rebounded off the post, but Kanoute was there to score from the rebound. In injury time the game was finally killed when Hasselbaink scored from 8 yards from a cross from the left. Again, I thought he was offside, but the ball may have actually been played back to him.
As I said before the game, no Spurs fan in his or her right mind expected anything out of it. The frustrating thing is that we were not facing the full might of Chelsea, and in the circumstances, this was our best chance of getting a result. We have now conceded 9 goals in just 5 games, and the defensive problems of last season have not yet been rectified. The midfield (such as it is) often surrenders gaps and territory to whatever the opposition, and I'm thinking there is a great coaching problem at Spurs these days. The fault lies in one place, and the manager will be feeling the pressure next week, as we desperately need a result at home to Southampton. I'm giving Glenn till the end of October, by which time I want 12 more points out of his side.
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· Brian Judson's Preview for this game can still be read here