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Spurs Odyssey Preview - Chelsea v Spurs, 11.04.98

"It was Twenty Years ago today!"
article published April, 2018, but first written in 1998 by the late Brian Judson

Full Record of Tottenham Hotspur -v- Chelsea

PremPl W D L For-Ag Pts
Home 60 3 3 5-12 3
Away 50 3 26-9  3
Total (Prem) 110 6 511-21 6
Football Lge
Home (Div 1) 42 20 9 13 79-57 51
Away (Div 1) 42 19 6 1763-50 46
Total (Div 1) 84 39 15 30142-107 97
Football Lge
Home (Div 2) 2 1 1 0 7-4  3
Away (Div 2) 2 0 1 11-4  1
Total (Div 2) 4 1 2 1 8-8  4
Total (Prem) 110 6 511-21 6
Total (Div 1) 84 39 15 30142-10797
Total (Div 2) 4 1 2 1 8-8  4
Grand Total 99 40 23 36161-136 110

The 100th league match between these two London clubs is the latest of crucial matches that have settled relegation issues in the past. This one is different from those that have gone before as this time it is Tottenham who badly need points for survival. And to cap it all, Tottenham have not beaten their rivals since February 1990 when goals by David Howells and Gary Lineker secured Tottenham the points.

The first major clash that ultimately settled relegation issues was played in April 1910. It was the final game of Tottenham's first season in the old First Division. The winners would remain upstairs, the losers would tumble into the abyss. Tottenham were the lucky side. Indeed, their victory saw them rise to 15th place.

Although Chelsea and Spurs occupied the bottom two places at the end of season 1914-15, their two games both ended in 1-1 draws and were played long before there was any significance attached to the fixture. Both teams were badly affected by the number of players who had left to volunteer for the armed forces following the outbreak of the Great War.

The next significant clash affecting relegation issues came towards the end of the 1974-75 season. Carlisle were already doomed to relegation and the fixture between Spurs and Chelsea would settle the fate of another for the drop. Spurs won 2-0 to ensure that Chelsea again made the big drop to the lower division.

In the 41 years that I have been following the fortunes of Spurs, I cannot recollect another club that has been so successful at the expense of Tottenham. It is very difficult to recollect the feelings of joy that victory over Chelsea as it is now over 8 years since we last beat Chelsea.

No Spurs fan will want to be reminded about the way a rampant Chelsea side thrashed Tottenham 6-1 at home last December. Fortunately, that did not erase our worst home defeat from the record books, which has stood since season 1934-35. (Ed: A 6-0 home defeat to Arsenal in a season we were relegated) What annoyed most Tottenham fans that Saturday afternoon against Chelsea was the spineless way in which they surrendered once defeat was inevitable.

But since then Tottenham have started to listen to the ideas of Christian Gross, their Head Coach. There are still plenty of fault lines within the present squad and there are players within that squad who should not be there. But Tottenham have to live with the players they currently have and their immediate future will rest on the ability, or otherwise, of the players who are picked to represent Spurs for the last few games of the season.

It remains to be seen who will play on Saturday. Most of the squad are available again for selection, some of whom have yet to play for Herr Gross in a Tottenham first team shirt.

One of those players has played less than 30 games in the last three seasons and has only himself to blame for the fact he has been injured for so much of that time. Had he listened to Tottenham in the spring of 1995 and had an operation at that time instead of playing for England in a meaningless competition, Darren Anderton might well have been leading Spurs to better times rather than returning to a side struggling against relegation. It has seemed to many supporters in the past that Anderton has been more interested in playing for England than in playing for Tottenham. The player, to be fair, has denied this but even he must admit the supporters cannot be blamed for thinking that to be the case when one looks at how he has, in the past, seemingly returned to fitness just before an England squad has been announced. It can't always have been a co-incidence .....

Chelsea, of course, will have some very tired players. They have had a longer season than normal because of their involvement in the European Cup-Winners' Cup with all the extra travelling involved. Their domestic form has tailed off since the sudden, inexplicable departure of Ruud Gullit and the surprise appointment of Vialli. But there have been signs that they have been returning to form. They have been fortunate in having one of the largest squads in the Premiership as they have been able to rotate players and give some a much needed rest in order to prevent burn-out before the end of the season.

And the outcome of Saturday's match? Much as I would like to see a win, I suspect there is likely to be more chance of pink pigs flying in perfect formation over Stamford Bridge than in Tottenham winning. I shall expect the worst and anticipate another defeat for Tottenham. Much will depend on how Tottenham decide to replace Clive Wilson at left-back where Tottenham have no natural cover since the departure of Jamie Clapham to Ipswich.

Cheers, Brian

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