"It was Twenty Years ago today!"
article published April, 2018, but first written in 1998
FA PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 11TH APRIL, 1998
CHELSEA 2(0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0(0)
Referee:- Paul Durkin
Chelsea:- De Goey; Petrescu, Duberry, Leboeuf, Clarke, Le Saux, Morris (sub Myers, 84), Harley (sub Poyet, 84), Vialli, Flo, Wise
Spurs:- Walker; Carr, Vega, Campbell, Nielsen; Fox, Berti (sub Anderton, 82), Saib;
Ginola; Klinsmann (sub Calderwood, 67), Armstrong (sub Ferdinand, 57)
Subs not used:- Bardsen; Scales.
Spurs were sucked right back into the mire of a full-blooded relegation
battle today, as not only did they lose their own game, but all bar one of
the teams around them won, to put the pressure fully back on, after Spurs
went into this game with a 4 point cushion. Only Newcastle, of their
competitors, lost today, and to rub salt into the wound, that loss was to
arch-rivals Arsenal, who are now quoted as favourites for the championship,
and only 7/4 for the double.
Spurs were able to name almost a full-strength squad for this game, missing
only a recognised left-back. ( Some would say that has been the case for the
whole season ). Nielsen was called to fill the spot for this game.
In the first half, Spurs seemed to dominate possession, although rarely
theatening goal. The only chances I recall were an Armstrong header, and a
half-hit shot from Saib. Chelsea always looked dangerous on the break, and
Flo was surely their best player, giving even Sol Campbell a hard time, but
mainly exploiting the weakness on Spurs' left flank,where for my money,
Neilsen was not up to the task given to him. Too often he was behind the
pace, but to give the credit to Flo, he waas able to wrong-foot any
defender, and create a lot of space for himself, and in the second half,
Spurs' approach play looked good, and at times, they comfortable held
possession, without exploiting their dominance. Saib was capable of
penetrating, and Berti always willing to hunt for the ball, but at times
they were lax with their passing. Ginola's skill was on display in the first
half, but he mostly disappeared from view in the second.
Chelsea came out fighting in the second half, and were on top for much of
this session. There was more needle to the game after the break, and there
were several skirmishes, which surprisingly did not lead to many yellow
cards being displayed by referee "Durkin the Gherkin". In Spurs fans eyes,
his main error will be seen to be the failure to award a penalty when
Klinsmann was clearly brought down by a late, high tackle by Duberry. This
is the second time in as many weeks that Spurs have not been awarded a
blatant penalty, and this one could have been the turning point of the game.
I can see the fourth "electronic official - a la test cricket" being
introduced before long. In this case there was a long pause, whilst
Klinsmann received treatment, which could have allowed consultation of an
electronic aide. However, only a corner resulted. Another frustration was
that Armstrong had already been replaced by Ferdinand,and when Klinsmann had
to succumb to the injury resulting from the Duberry tackle, Calderwood of all
people was the chosen replacement.
Spurs seemed to lose their shape completely in the second half, and it
really only seemed a matter of time before the first goal came. The
introduction of Anderton for Berti did not improve things, and Chelsea
scored in the last 15 minutes with incisive goals from Flo, and Vialli.
Ferdinand put a header wide from a cross by Fox, and Spurs hit the bar in
their last attack, with a looping header, but it was too little, too late.
It hurt that Chelsea were able to achieve this result without Hughes, or
Zola, and that we produced one of our worst performances since that horrible
home defeat by the same team, with such a strong squad assembled.
Now that Bolton and Barnsley are only a point behind us, it really does look
like our fight will go on till the last day of the season.
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