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Chelsea v Spurs, 31.08.08

BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SUNDAY 31ST AUGUST, 2008
CHELSEA 1 (1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (1)

Chelsea scorer:-
Belletti, 27

Spurs scorer:-
Bent, 45

Referee: - Howard Webb

Attendance: - 41,790

Teams:-
Chelsea (4-1-3-2):- Cech; Bosingwa, Carvalho, Terry (Capt.), A. Cole; Belletti (sub Kalou, 75); Lampard, Essien, Deco; Anelka (sub Di Santo, 88), J. Cole (sub Malouda, 65)

Subs not used: - Cudicini; Bridge, Ferreira, Alex

Booked: - Deco (foul on Giovani), J. Cole (foul on Zokora), Boswinga (foul on Bale)

Spurs (4-4-1-1):- Gomes; Gunter (sub Huddlestone, 62), Woodgate, King (Capt.), Bale; Bentley (sub O’Hara, 72), Jenas, Zokora, Modric; Giovani (sub Lennon, 59); Bent

Subs not used: - Cesar; Gilberto, Dawson, Ekotto

No bookings

Being there was great!

As many of you know, I recently moved from north of London to Derbyshire, and I confess to having had thoughts about staying at home to watch the ritual slaughter on television. Most Spurs fans were full of gloom after the Saturday results meant we were holding up the table. The prospect of being bottom throughout the International break loomed large, and hope of any other outcome was difficult to find. This writer did optimistically predict a 1-1 draw, and the accuracy of that prediction, coupled with the performance of the players did everything to lift Spurs off the bottom of the embryonic table, and give the greatest boost possible to morale.

Chelsea did have their chances, but blew them. Spurs did not go to Stamford Bridge with their backs to the wall, but with attack in mind. The atmosphere in the Spurs end as the game drew to a close was simply magnificent, as it was Spurs, not Chelsea that went for the throat, and might have snatched a historic win. However, a draw against last season’s Champions League finalists, Premier League runners-up, Carling Cup Finalists, and FA Cup losers was a great result for any team.

How did Spurs do it? Firstly Gomes commanded his area, and made one magnificent save from an exquisite Lampard chip. Secondly, Didier Zokora (my man of the match) returned to his home base in the midfield, where he battled away and even managed a showboat or two when winning fighting challenges. Thirdly, the defence played well, led for the second week running by Ledley King, who was partnered by the excellent Jonathan Woodgate.

Juande Ramos started with Giovani in support of Bent, and Modric on the left of midfield, with Bentley on the right. Chelsea’s formation was difficult to pick, with Boswinga, Carvalho and Terry chiefly at the back, allowing Ashley Cole plenty of forward runs. Belletti seemed to be holding up the midfield, whilst Essien played a more advanced role that usual. Lampard and Deco were either side of Essien, and Joe Cole supported Anelka from the left side of the field.

Lampard nearly struck early with a wide shot, but then Spurs had a bright spell, without bringing any penetration. It did bring fouls from the home side though, as Ashley Cole brought down Giovani, and Lampard fouled Bent. Such fouls later in the game might have brought a yellow card, but referee Howard Webb clearly thought it was too early to show a card. Unfortunately, Spurs were too tentative in midfield, with Jenas often spending too long on the ball before making a decision, and Bentley’s delivery not what it should be. For all Spurs midfield artistry and approach, they failed to get the ball to Bent, who spent a lot of the time isolated or too easily neutralised by Terry and Carvalho.

Gomes’ save from Lampard came after a ball from the left, and the £130,000+ a week midfielder chipping from 20 yards. Gomes stretched back and tipped over the bar in front of the home fans. (Spurs were playing towards the Shed End in the first half). Spurs responded with a decent chance, where Modric fed Giovani, who got round the defence, crossing for Bent whose shot was deflected for a corner. Deco got that first booking for bringing down Giovani as he fought to take the ball out of defence.

Modric went threw wrong way to try and meet a cross by Ashley Cole, and that left Lampard with space to measure a shot. Luckily for Spurs the much-baited England International put that one wide. Then there was desperate goalmouth scramble after a Chelsea corner, which Spurs managed to clear. Spurs’ relatively bright start was history, as the home side took control of the middle. Anelka fired over the top in front of goal when receiving a ball from the right, and Essien hit a 25 yarder on top of the bar. The goal when it came was no surprise, but still fortuitous. Darren Bent failed to clear Deco’s corner, and the ball seemed to hit Belletti rather than the other way round, to be diverted into the net. It even looked like an own goal from our position, but the goal was Belletti’s to claim.

Now Spurs started to come back, and the star at this stage was Zokora, who celebrated his new extended contract with some great athleticism coupled with ball-winning skills. Such was his taunting at times that he drew a foul from Joe Cole, who saw yellow for his trouble. Spurs got the equaliser at the perfect time after Bent challenged for a high ball which ran to space where Modric challenged Lampard. The ball actually came off Lampard, and turned out to be the perfect pass for Darren Bent who finished well with a low shot from the left of the box.

After the break, Ashley Cole was allowed too much room and got in a good low shot that crossed the goalmouth. One of Bentley’s best contributions of the day came after he was switched to the left side, Bale made a great run ahead of him, and Bentley obliged by feeding the ball, from which Bale won a corner. Giovani was replaced by Lennon, who played on the right side. Tom Huddlestone replaced Gunter, and Jenas fell to right back. Huddlestone made quick impact, especially with an attack from the right, when he fired a ball at bent and was there to receive the return, hitting a thunderbolt that was deflected off Terry for a corner.

Jamie O’Hara replaced Bentley, and the fresh legs did give Spurs more impetus down the left side, coupled with Gareth Bale. John Terry seemed to give Modric a good fore-arm smash, which went un-punished. Chelsea’s best chance in the closing stages came when Kalou was on his own but hit his shot woefully wide. At the other end, Bale made a great run brought to an end unfairly on the edge of the box by Boswinga. Bale and Huddlestone lined up to take the kick, taken by Bale, but hitting the wall.

Spurs fans had excellent sport baiting a home fan “Are you Lampard in disguise?” The home fan got slung out, and the away support’s singing lifted to a crescendo of “When the Spurs go marching in”, as a hard-fought and well-earnt point was secured. At the end Zokora was first to come to the fans and show his support, and he received well earnt praise in the vein of “Doo-doo-doo, Didier Zokora!”

It’s not much fun using the tube in the company of all those blue shirts, but especially harder when you’re one of the few people smiling!

· Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
· Read the preview for this game.
· Spurs record in recent London Derby League Matches

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