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Spurs v Chelsea, 21.03.09

BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 21ST MARCH, 2009
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0) CHELSEA 0 (0)

Scorer:-
Modric, 50

Attendance; - 36,034

Referee: - Mike Dean

Teams:-
Spurs (4-4-2):- Gomes; Corluka, Woodgate, King, Ekotto; Lennon (sub Zokora, 90), Jenas, Palacios, Modric (sub O’Hara, 86); Keane (Capt.), Bent

Subs not used: - Cudicini; Dawson; Huddlestone, Bentley; Pavlyuchenko

Booked: - Palacios, Modric

Chelsea (4-3-2-1):- Cech; Bosingwa, Alex, Terry (Capt.), Cole; Belletti (sub Quaresma, 61), Ballack, Lampard; Essien (sub Malouda, 76), Anelka; Drogba

Subs not used: - Hilario; Ivanovic, Mancienne; Di Santo, Kalou

Booked: - Belletti, Ballack

Magnificent Spurs beat Chelsea again!

Spurs fans walked away from The Lane with their heads held high and broad grins on their faces, after their team beat Chelsea once again, and deservedly too! This was a magnificent team performance where every team member gave 100% effort, Aaron Lennon set up a great goal by Luka Modric, and Heurelho Gomes ensured the points were secured with some heroic saves towards the end of the game.

The win put Spurs into an overnight position of ninth in the Premier League, and also puts them on top of the form table after their last six games, in which they have won 4 and drawn 2 league games. Fears of relegation can surely be cast aside now, and Spurs can legitimately chase seventh place which might be enough to ensure a fourth consecutive season of European football. This week, Spurs have achieved a clean sweep over Chelsea at Reserve, Academy and Premier League level. The reserves won 4-0 on Monday night, and the Academy side won 5-0 at Cobham this morning. The chances of the first team getting the “treble” seemed remote, but the icing on the cake was obtained in style.

The game was delayed for half an hour due to a security alert, but Harry Redknapp fielded the same starting line-up as last week, with the exception of Vedran Corluka replacing Didier Zokora. There were some terrific individual performances worthy of mention, such as Jenas playing his best game of the season, tracking and nullifying Frank Lampard for the first hour of the game but also finding time to create and support attacking moves. Robbie Keane’s return to Spurs has surely been integral to our recent successes, and today, without scoring he played in the zone between Darren Bent and the midfield to brilliant effect, making many successful and skilful passes. Lennon tested Ashley Cole to the full, and after a tentative start, Luka Modric was at his awesome best, with the ball sticking to his feet as he weaved his way down the left channels, and sparked many attacks.

Chelsea’s midfield was set up with Ballack behind the driving force of Essien, with Belletti on the right, and Lampard towards the left. Anelka and Drogba took it in turns to play on the left flank or as the target man.

Spurs were more than holding their own from the outset, playing towards the vocal Park Lane supporters. Gomes made the first meaningful save though, getting down well to Essien’s drive, before stretching to prevent Belletti following up. Jenas responded for Spurs within a minute, after a Corluka cross was partly cleared and fell to his feet 25 yards out on the right side. Jenas let rip with a powerful shot that passed only just over the corner of Cech’s goal. After 17 minutes, Darren Bent headed on a long ball into the path of Robbie Keane, who tried a left foot shot to the narrow side of Cech’s goal. Cech was on guard though, but still had to concede a corner, from which Ledley King headed over.

After 24 minutes, Corluka picked up a Jenas interception, carried the ball forward passing to Keane who this time hit a shot from the right side of the box with his right foot – saved by Cech. A Chelsea ball crossed from the far left reached Belletti on the other side of the pitch, and the full back turned winger cut the ball back to Anelka, whose shot was pushed round by Gomes for a corner. Five minutes later, Modric took the ball out of defence, passing quickly to Palacios who also showed speed of thought and action, sending a quick ball to Robbie Keane who found Cech his equal again.

Ekotto was fouled and Modric took the Spurs free kick which Ledley headed to Cech. Ekotto picked up a poor Chelsea clearance following a Spurs corner, sending the ball down the line to Modric, whose cross was met by Darren Bent. Bent’s shot was outside the target, but Cech was unsure of his ground and dived to save anyway. Bent was subject to a late challenge from Belletti as he broke away, and Belletti got a yellow card for his trouble. The teams went in level at half-time, but Spurs had clearly been the better of the two sides, with Chelsea rarely threatening.

Within five minutes of the break, Spurs had a precious lead. Bosingwa has to take some of the blame, as he should have just shepherded a ball out of play when up against Modric. However, the right back chose to take the ball inside along the bye-line, before hitting a random clearance that was soon headed back by Woodgate towards Aaron Lennon. Lennon quickly cut the ball back for Modric who was now on the edge of the area towards the right side. Modric drilled a superb low shot that beat Cech low to his left leading to great celebrations in front of the North-east corner of the ground.

Spurs did still create a few openings, and it was inevitable that Chelsea were going to come after us, but I did feel that we sat back and allowed that to happen too much, rather than carry on playing with the confidence and panache that had been so present until the goal. Soon after we took the lead, Darren Bent raced onto a long ball, and took a little too long making his mind up what to do, before picking out a pass to Jenas, who shot wide. Ledley had another headed chance from a corner that had been won through the efforts of Keane and Modric. Keane then hit a fantastic long cross-field pass to Lennon, who crossed for Modric, when the Croatian hit his shot into the ground and up into the arms of Cech.

Belletti was replaced by Quaresma, and Lampard started to have a bit more influence on the game. He picked out Drogba, whose shot was saved for a corner. Jenas made a rare error in the middle and this allowed Anelka to pick up the ball and feed it to Lampard, whose shot was well wide and received laughter from the Spurs crowd. Going the other way though, Jenas made an incisive run through the middle, passing to Bent. Bent tried a pass to his right and the ball was blocked running back to Keane who tried a right foot curler that was only just wide.

Jenas conceded a free kick about 25 yards out, which was taken by Lampard. The kick was blocked by the wall, and then put wide by the Chelsea number 8. With fifteen minutes to go, Chelsea skipper John Terry was getting forward more and more, and was being allowed too much space. He hit a ball to Drogba, whose shot went wide across the goalmouth. Now Essien was replaced by Malouda. Palacios and Modric took bookings as the pressure mounted upon Spurs. After Modric’s yellow card Terry got on the end of the free kick, and his header was well saved by Gomes. Spurs broke down the right and Aaron Lennon had team-mates waiting for a killer ball, only to see the little winger sky his attempt to cross or shoot.

With ten minutes to go, Woodgate was harshly penalised just outside the box, but Ballack hit a kick over the goal by a distance. Ballack then saw yellow for a late challenge on Modric who had received a good ball from Keane. Modric was then replaced by Jamie O’Hara, and received a deserved standing ovation as he went off. Gomes patted out a header by Alex that had come down off the underside of the bar and in the dying seconds of four added minutes, the Spurs keeper also thwarted Malouda.

It is difficult to relay in words the great feeling of ecstasy that pervaded the stadium and its environs for a long time after the game. The fact is that Spurs have now put the old Chelsea hoodoo well behind them, and have beaten them in two of our last four meetings. Harry Redknapp has got the team playing as a unit in these last five games, and they are playing with skill and confidence. Magnificent Spurs need fear no-one!

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