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Chelsea v Spurs, 12.01.08


Belletti, 19
Wright-Phillips, 80

Referee: - Alan Wiley

Attendance: - 41,777

Chelsea (4-1-2-3):- Cech; Belletti, Alex, Carvalho, A. Cole; Makelele; Wright-Phillips (sub Sidwell, 90), Ballack (Capt.); J. Cole, Malouda (sub Bridge, 84); Pizarro (sub Anelka, 58)

Subs not used: - Cudicini; Ben Haim

Booked: - Makelele, Ballack

Spurs (4-4-2):- Cerny; Chimbonda, Dawson, King (Capt.), Lee; Lennon, Boateng (sub Kaboul, 83), O’Hara (sub Defoe, 76), Malbranque (sub Taarabt, 58); Berbatov, Keane

Subs not used: - Robinson; Gunter

Booked: - Boateng, Malbranque, O’Hara, Lennon

In an unspectacular game, the result went according to form, which meant that Chelsea ran out winners against Spurs for the twentieth time in 31 Premier League games. This result was achieved despite the fact that The Blues were missing 4 key players (Terry, Lampard, Essien, and Drogba) and two further players (Mikel and Kalou) who might have been picked ahead of those who did represent the home side today. Such is the strength of Chelsea’s squad that new signing Nicolas Anelka did not start (but did come on for the last half hour), and that midfielder Steve Sidwell did not get on until added time.

Spurs too were missing three midfield players (the suspended Jenas, and Huddlestone, and the absent Zokora) who would have been selected ahead of Boateng and O’Hara who had the task of facing Michael Ballack, and Sean Wright-Phillips, who partnered Ballack in the central midfield. Chelsea’s defence was still protected by Claude Makelele, and Pizarro was supported by Joe Cole and Florent Malouda on the right and left wings respectively.

Radek Cerny kept his place ahead of Paul Robinson, and Kevin Prince Boateng came in for the suspended Jenas. Spurs started the first half defending the Shed End, which these days is the refuge of away supporters, and had the first threat on goal, when Cech was forced to clear from Robbie Keane’s advance upon a long ball.

There were few chances, and Spurs were holding their ground well, with Michael Dawson and Ledley King (especially Ledley) in charge at the back. Sadly, Spurs did adopt the “away team” psychology, and as a result went a goal down in the 19th minute. This was as a result of Spurs having everyone in the box to defend a corner, and when the ball was hacked clear, Chelsea had time and space to come back at us. It was Belletti who scored a quite spectacular goal from at least 30 yards, hitting an unstoppable right foot shot to the left of Cerny. Belletti had been a hero for Spurs fans and for Barcelona nearly two years ago, when he scored the winning goal for Barcelona against Arsenal, but after today, we would rather not think of him.

It seemed to me that the referee was favouring the home side when it came to bookings, as Spurs players were freely shown the yellow card, whereas home players got away with similar challenges. That said the card count was only 4-2 against Spurs in the end. Malbranque had a terrific shot saved after 28 minutes, when Lennon crossed and Steed met the ball beyond the far post. His powerful drive was well saved by Petr Cech. In a decent spell for Spurs, Chimbonda was fouled by Ashley Cole, and Jamie O’Hara took the free kick from the right hand side. The end result was a decent shot by Boateng only just over the corner of the goal. Chelsea did get the ball in the net three minutes before the break, but this was ruled offside.

After the break, Juande Ramos switched O’Hara and Malbranque, with Steed moving to a central role, and O’Hara on the left of midfield. When Steed was replaced by Taarabt, O’Hara moved back inside. Malbranque had been booked and probably needed protecting from a further piece of discipline from the referee. Anelka replaced Pizarro, and was wearing the number 39 shirt that he sported at Bolton. His first touch was almost to score, as he received a ball from Wright-Phillips, hit a shot on target, which Cerny tipped wide.

Ballack got booked for a cynical foul on Lennon on the edge of the box after a Taarabt cross. Berbatov stepped up to try a free kick from the edge of the box. Despite the efforts of the referee, the Chelsea defence was still allowed to assemble only 8 yards from the ball, and the free kick went over the goal. Berbatov was kept quiet today, but in fairness, the midfield did not manage much in the way of service to the attack. O’Hara was replaced by Defoe, who partnered Berbatov, with Keane falling back. Spurs most threatening moment in this half came when Boateng’s cross from the right was missed by Alex, beat Cech, and was just in front of Robbie Keane.

The points were secured by Chelsea after 80 minutes, when Wright-Phillips squeezed between the Spurs defence and collected Joe Cole’s cross, hitting a shot from the edge of the box that beat Cerny to his right. Wright-Phillips had a further chance three minutes before the end, but this one wide. In a closing spell when it was one-way traffic, Wright-Phillips again teed up Anelka, whose shot hit the underside of the bar and as it came out was retrieved by Cerny.

The pre-match measured optimism had been turned into disappointing reality, and Spurs know all too well, that Cup success is their only chance of returning to Europe next season. Mind you, there’s always the Inter-Toto Cup!

· Did you know? Spurs failed to score today for the first time in 29 games since they played Manchester United at Old Trafford on August 26th.

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

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