FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
WEDNESDAY 13TH MARCH, 2002
CHELSEA 4 (1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0 (0)
Hasselbaink (3), 23, 69, 81
Referee:- Mr A. Wiley
Chelsea (4-4-2):- Cudicini; Melchiot, Gallas, Desailly (Capt), Babayaro; Gronkjaer (sub Stanic, 77), Lampard, Petit, Le Saux; Gudjohnssen (sub Zola, 72), Hasselbaink (sub Forsell, 82)
Subs not used:- De Goey; Dalla Bona
Spurs (4-4-2):- Sullivan; Taricco, Richards (sub Perry, 46), King, Thatcher (sub Gardner, 67); Davies, Sherwood, Poyet, Ziege; Sheringham (Capt), Ferdinand (sub Rebrov, 81)
Subs not used:- Keller; Etherington
Booked:- Sherwood, Thatcher, Perry (all fouls)
Sent off:- Taricco (Violent conduct)
Spurs are a team in tatters. Their confidence is blown, and their loyal support has been embarrassed by 3 consecutive 4-0 defeats. Glenn Hoddle may have seen the light when he replaced Dean Richards at half time with Chris Perry, but defence is one area where he has had plenty of choice all season, yet he still has not found his best three (or two as some would prefer).
Chelsea fielded their 6th round cup-tie winning team, and I take my hat off to their excellence, which was as great as was Spurs poor play. Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink scored a marvellous hat-trick, with a full repertoire of right foot, headed, and left foot shot, whilst Spurs' veteran front line did not manage one shot on target all the game, leaving Cudicini an under-employed spectator most of the time.
Another concern under Hoddle is our discipline record, as Mauricio Taricco received his second red card in three games - this time for violent conduct against Le Saux, and there were also bookings for Sherwood, Thatcher and Perry - all for desperate fouls. The chasm in class between these two teams was all too plain to see, and I for one will be glad not to see Chelsea for a considerable time.
Spurs must be grateful for the 38 points they have accrued to date, as they should manage 6 points from their remaining 9 games, to ensure Premiership football next season. What a gloomy conclusion to what had promised to be a successful campaign just three weeks ago.
As for the game, Spurs did at least start in a 4-4-2, with Thatcher on the left at the back, and Ziege committed to attack. Davies replaced Anderton in the middle, and Taricco was re-instated at full back. Sheringham played in a more advanced position, and he and Ferdinand did get as far as the Chelsea penalty area two or three times early on, but that was as far as they got. A Ferdinand cross from the right reached Teddy, whose shot was blocked. In no time Hasselbaink was away between Richards and King, but thankfully his shot was wide.
Ferdinand then fed Sheringham who stumbled in the box, but got no return for his penalty appeal. After 15 minutes, Gudjohnssen raced onto a long ball, with Thatcher always trailing. Instead of trying to catch the forward, Thatcher committed himself from behind, failed to make a challenge, and Gudjohnssen hit wide also. Davies was struggling to get into the game again, and it was Thatcher and Ziege who were sending long balls into the area. Sheringham received one of these 10 yards out, could not turn to shoot, passed back to Davies, whose shot ran short.
Spurs early resilience was cast aside when Richards backed away from Hasselbaink too far, allowing the advancing forward to curl a right foot shot past Sullivan. Soon after, Jimmy-Floyd was putting his partner into the box. Gudjohnssen rounded Sullivan and Ledley King cleared the Spurs lines. Ferdinand had a lovely chance to tee up either Sheringham or Davies, when he beat the offside trap, but simply headed to an opponent.
Sherwood missed a kick in the middle, and Le Saux was allowed to race from his own half, before passing to Hasselbaink, who was again given too much space by Richards. This time Hasselbaink curled his shot wide. After the break, Spurs did have one chance when Sheringham's pass to Davies came back to Gus Poyet running from deep, hitting a right foot shot just over the corner of the goal. This was almost Poyet's only contribution of the game, and yet he saw out 90 minutes.
Spurs were failing to take advantage of good positions, and were nearly punished when they ran the ball backwards, and Hasselbaink hit a 30 yard shot over the bar. The incident where Taricco was sent off occurred on the far side of the ground from me, and in true Wenger form, "I did not see the incident". Suffice to say those around me said he would get a red card, and the home crowd (who hate Taricco with a vengeance) gave Mr Wiley every encouragement. In truth, I think the referee handled this game well, and he has impressed me in most games I have seen him this season. Taricco facetiously applauded the home crowd as they cheered his sending off.
Gardner replaced Ben Thatcher, and Ledley was pushed out to the right, as Ziege reverted to left back. However, with a man down, and Chelsea in rampant form, Spurs were obviously going to suffer, and it started on 69 minutes, when Gronkjaer raced down the right, chipped a cross to the middle of the area, and Hasselbaink rose above everyone to head down and up into the net. A few minutes later that man was blocked by Perry, and Petit forced a good save from Sullivan with his follow-up shot.
Ferdinand gave the crowd a laugh when he totally missed his attempt to convert a Ziege cross. It was so embarrassing. Hasselbaink's hat-trick goal was his best, in my view, as he ran back from the bye line on the right and curled a left foot shot from the right edge of the area to Sullivan's far post. You can but admire his talents, as he levelled the Premiership score tally with Ruud Van Nistelrooy. Spurs would die for a striker of this talent.
Rebrov came on too late for any hope, although he did at least have a crack at goal. Sullivan saved one late one on one situation with Lampard, but having blocked Babayaro's shot, and then seen a follow-up shot cleared off the line, Spurs were helpless, as Lampard finished the agony off with a near post strike.
Having to share one's return journey on the tube with Chelsea fans entitled to gloat about their superiority was quite a challenge, especially with one wag saying on his mobile phone, "I'll call you back when I've stopped laughing".
I wanted to speak to Glenn personally at the end, and say "I sympathise with you over your tragic family loss, but this last week has been a total embarrassment to every Spurs fan. The players should be ashamed of themselves, and the massive rebuilding job needs to start now!!"
· Additional comment on the game by "Amadeus"
· Brian Judson's Preview for this game can still be read here
· Check the current team appearances, cards and scorers in all competitions
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