BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 17TH APRIL, 2010
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (2) CHELSEA 1 (0)
Defoe (pen), 15
Referee:- Mr. P. Dowd
Assistants:- Mr. A. Halliday & Mr. P. Sharp
Fourth official:- Mr K. Friend (not as per programme)
Spurs (4-4-2):- Gomes; Kaboul, Dawson (Capt.), Bassong, Ekotto; Bentley, Huddlestone, Modric, Bale; Pavlyuchenko (sub Crouch, 90), Defoe (sub Gudjohnsen, 78)
Subs not used:- Alnwick; Walker; Rose, Livermore, Townsend
Booked:- Huddlestone, Pavlyuchenko
Chelsea (4-3-2-1):- Cech; Ferreira (sub Ivanovic, 46), Alex, Terry (Capt.), Zhirkov; Deco, Mikel (sub Ballack, 33), Lampard; J. Cole (sub Anelka, 46), Malouda; Drogba
Subs not used:- Hilario; A. Cole; Kalou; Sturridge
Booked:- Alex, Deco, Terry, Zhirkov
Sent off:- Terry (66 – second bookable offence – armband to Lampard)
Spurs mow down Chelsea. Bring on United!
It’s been an unbelievable four days for Spurs fans as they have witnessed consecutive victories over both Arsenal and Chelsea. Those victories have been thoroughly deserved too, and yesterday, Spurs could so easily have scored five or six goals against the Premier League leaders and title favourites. Gareth Bale has scored in both games, and he was all over the Chelsea defence like a rash, making mincemeat particularly of Paulo Ferreira in the first half, leading to one of Carlo Ancelotti’s half-time substitutions. Once again though, there were plenty of heroic Spurs performances to savour, along with the fact that Spurs last beat Chelsea and Arsenal at home in the same season 25 years ago in the 1985-86 season!
Heurelho Gomes was not so stiffly tested by the Chelsea strike force, such as it was, and that was partly down to another magnificent Captain’s performance by Michael Dawson, who was acclaimed by the Spurs crowd in the presence of Fabio Capello, who would have heard the repeated “Dawson for England” chants. The effort and application throughout the Spurs team was fantastic, but for me another outstanding performance came from “The Little Magician” – Luka Modric, who exudes quality and class in so many ways. Modric directs operations effectively wherever he is asked to play, and of course he has been required to play from the central midfield with Wilson Palacios suspended. With Bale working so well for Spurs in front of Ekotto, one wonders if Palacios will automatically return to the starting line-up next Saturday at Old Trafford. Younes Kaboul once again ably deputised for the injured Corluka at right back. Pavlyuchenko and Defoe were full of running and quality up front, putting in all the effort you could desire.
Ashley Cole was on the bench for Chelsea, but did not get on, as Ancelotti had used all his subs by the time the second half started. Ballack had replaced Mikel after 33 minutes, and at half time Ivanovic replaced the struggling Ferreira, whilst Anelka replaced Joe Cole. There was confusion as Drogba seemed to be hobbling, and Chelsea might have struggled on with ten men, but Drogba took part. Mind you, Chelsea were reduced to ten, when skipper John Terry was deservedly sent off for two quick yellow cards. He could so easily have been booked twice before he first saw Mr. Dowd’s yellow card raised.
The atmosphere was electric from the off, with ritual abuse directed towards Terry. Defoe and Pavlyuchenko had a nice interchange after 4 minutes, and the Russian striker tried a left footer which passed over the target. Malouda then drew a fingertip save from Gomes who was happy to concede the corner for Chelsea. After 8 minutes, Modric sent Bale away, and Gareth’s low cross/shot was pushed round for a corner. Three minutes later Bale was creating an opening for Defoe and Pavlyuchenko, but Chelsea managed to clear.
Gareth Bale wanted and probably deserved a penalty when Modric sent him away on a run into the left side of the box, where he was brought down, but only won a corner. It was alright though, as soon after the corner, Mr. Dowd spotted a handball by Terry and did award a penalty, drawing too much dissent from Alex. Jermain Defoe stepped up and confidently fired to the right of Cech, with the keeper choosing the wrong direction. The goal came in front of the Park Lane stand and the crowd was roaring with delight.
Chelsea came back straight away and did put Spurs under some pressure, without managing a break-through. Pavlyuchenko responded after 24 minutes, following a Spurs corner, trying a right foot shot from the left of the box, which Cech pushed round the corner. Five minutes later, David Bentley should have been awarded a corner as he met a Modric ball at the near post and saw his shot deflected by a Chelsea defender. When Ballack replaced Mikel, he joined Deco behind Joe Cole and Frank Lampard, who took up the more attacking role.
Spurs had two quick corners after 37 minutes, thanks to efforts by Bale and Bentley, and from the second corner, Kaboul had a shot on target, which Cech held. Spurs took a two goal lead just before half-time thanks to a great ball by Pavlyuchenko to Bale who went on the run, leaving Ferreira in his wake, before actually finishing with his right foot inside Cech’s right hand post. You could have blown the volcanic ash over Europe away with the noise being generated by the White Hart Lane faithful!
Once again, Chelsea tried to come back, and Gomes had to make a great save from a Lampard shot. After the break, and Chelsea’s substitutions, their format changed to a 4-1-3-2 with Deco in front of the defence, and Malouda, Lampard and Ballack behind Anelka and Drogba. To be honest, you hardly noticed Chelsea, as Spurs dominated possession and chances. Defoe got into a one on one situation, but Cech beat him to the ball, and then Pavlyuchenko fired over from a Spurs corner. There was a melee after 53 minutes, when Deco fouled Tom Huddlestone, before Deco got booked.
Kaboul got a deep cross over from the right after 58 minutes, from which Pavlyuchenko got a shot in under pressure, resulting in a corner. Terry got his first booking for a foul on Pavlyuchenko as he advanced just left of the Chelsea area. Bale took the free kick but fired over. Then Terry saw his second yellow, and this time his victim had been Gareth Bale, bearing down upon the Chelsea box. Cech had to be alert to a Kaboul cross. Spurs won a free kick just outside the area after 73 minutes, when Alex fouled Defoe. Huddlestone had an effort blocked before Bentley’s shot was pushed over by Cech.
Chelsea’s replacement right back Ivanovic had a right foot swinger but it landed on top of Gomes’ net. Defoe was replaced by the industrious Gudjohnsen, whose work ethic matched that already on offer from Spurs. Cech made another good save from Bale, who had received the pass from Bentley.
Spurs came under more pressure as time wore on, and Michael Dawson made a great stretching saving block to prevent Drogba’s shot even bothering Gomes. It was the cue for more adulation of a crowd favourite. Dawson has certainly been a rock for Spurs after some early season injury problems. Tom Huddlestone also made a vital defensive header on the left side of the goal.
Gareth Bale had a great chance after 86 minutes, as he ran down the middle, but fired wide. Then, after Bale chased down a great ball down the left flank, he passed inside and Pavlyuchenko could not get his shot on target, when the goal was at his mercy. There was five minutes of added time, during which Frank Lampard did score from close range from Ivanovic’s ball. Pavlyuchenko had yet another great opportunity, after another tee-up by Bale, but again, he pushed the shot wide. Peter Crouch was a very late substitution, and Spurs deservedly saw out the game for three points which secured fourth place after Man City’s earlier defeat at home to Man Utd.
Spurs have beaten two title contenders this week, and face a third next Saturday lunch-time at Old Trafford. It’s the most exciting end to a season that I can remember for a long, long time. All I can say is “Bring on United!”
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