TUESDAY APRIL 17TH, 2001
FA CARLING PREMIERSHIP
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0 (0) CHELSEA 3 (1)
Referee:- Graham Barber
Spurs (4-4-2):- Sullivan; Carr, Perry (sub Gardner, 36), Thelwell, Young; Korsten, Sherwood, Clemence (sub Etherington, 81), Davies (sub Piercy, 74); Rebrov, Doherty
Subs not used:- Walker; Leonhardsen
Booked:- Korsten, Doherty
Sent off:- Korsten (2nd Yellow card offence) - 42 minutes
Chelsea (4-4-2):- Cudicini; Melchiot, Terry, Desailly, Babayaro; Poyet (sub Stanic, 75), Dalla Bona, Wise, Le Saux (sub Gronkjaer, 66); Zola (sub Gudjohnsen, 77), Hasselbaink
Subs not used:- De Goey; Jokanovic
Booked:- Desailly (foul on Rebrov), Babayaro (foul on Rebrov)
Of course, it was always going to be incredibly difficult to bring a halt to the endless trail of failure against Chelsea. After all, it was literally men against boys; culture against graft. The Spurs cause suffered a further deep set back when Chris Perry had to be stretchered off after 35 minutes, when he collapsed after making a desperate clearance. It was immediately apparent that he would not get up, and the injury seemed to be to his left knee. His replacement, Anthony Gardner had another impressive game, but the severely weakened Spurs side were facing an in form and full strength Chelsea, whose bench was up to its usual high standard. Matters were not helped when Willem Korsten was sent off for his second late and naive tackle three minutes before the interval. The game had never been an even contest, but the ten men were never going to get back on terms.
Spurs started with a 4-4-2 for the first time in ages. This time, Korsten started on the right, although he switched with Davies not long before his sending off. Perhaps Spurs best scoring chance came after two minutes when Simon Davies at the near post met a long throw, and hooked the ball across goal, but just outside the target. That was almost it, as far as scoring efforts go for the home side. Chelsea were fluid, and fast. Poyet, Hassellbaink and Zola were switching positions and testing the defence right across the pitch. Sullivan's first test came from a Wise shot, when Hassellbaink crossed from the right.
Hassellbaink could have had a hat-trick tonight. On 25 minutes, Korsten spoilt some good defence by Carr, when he gifted the ball to Poyet. Poyet found Jimmy Floyd, who fired well over. The same combination led to Chelsea's first goal, as Poyet crossed to Hassellbaink, and Carr was pressured to concede a corner. Hassellbaink met the corner at the near post, and though his back header took a deflection, and Sullivan dived to the right to get a touch, he could not prevent the ball going over the line. The influential Poyet was next to provide Le Saux with a shooting opportunity, which the ever-reliable Sullivan tipped over. Without the goalkeeper, this could so easily have been another rout.
Just before the break, Gardner could only head a clearance to the advancing Dalla Bona, and Alton Thelwell did just enough to take the sting out of Dalla Bona's shot to enable Sullivan to save comfortably.
Before the interval, both Clemence and Sherwood had failed miserably to make any headway in the middle. Both needed too long on the ball. Clemence was so irritating in having to get the ball onto his left foot before thinking about distribution, and Sherwood was too often running into trouble. There was marginal improvement after the break, when for a while the ten men did compete, but Sullivan was often in action, saving from Poyet and Zola early on. On 59 minutes Le Saux sent a powerfully driven cross to the back post, and Poyet met it easily to double the scoreline.
Davies did manage to reach Rebrov with a cross from the right, and at least Sergei forced Cudicini to dive to his left to save, with a sharply taken shot. The game lost its impetus with all the substitutes being introduced, but Sullivan was regularly having to save from the likes of Wise, Stanic, and Gudjohnsen. There were a couple of embarrassing moments for Hassellbaink as he skied one shot and failed with another one on one, but in injury time he turned provider for substitute Gudjohnsen when their 1-2 combination left even Sullivan stranded, and helpless to prevent a 3-0 drubbing.
Those home fans who did stay till the very end gave the brave Spurs youngsters deserved applause for their efforts. Chelsea, after such an uncertain start to the season, are not only looking certainties for Europe, but are genuine contenders for the third Champions League place. Spurs somehow have to scramble a team together for Sunday's trip to Anfield.
· Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
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