Looking Forward



Premier League

Saturday 3rd April 2004

Yes, we all know what score I should be predicting.  But having seen Spurs beat Chelsea in the League in the past, although the memory is fading, I am sure it can happen again.  With a Champions League quarter-final coming up against Arsenal, Chelsea might have their minds elsewhere and also be keen to avoid injury in this local skirmish.

With most of their goalkeeping roster on the treatment table, the resources there are being put to the test.  Carlo Cudicini broke a finger in training, Neil Sullivan had a bruised leg and Jurgen Macho has hardly seen competitive action for the Pensioners since signing from Sunderland.  That leaves Marco Ambrosio as the man in possession of the gloves and he will be between the sticks on Saturday.  What he is like as a keeper is yet to be determined.  He hasn't had a great deal to do in the games he has played, but he looks confident in his handling and like most Italian keepers, he will throw himself about to stop shots on goal.

In front of him, the defenders have not escaped the injury curse, with Glen Johnson is out with an ankle injury, while Winston Bogarde will not likely see the first team at Chelsea this side of a plague, the virility of which was last seen in 1666.  Nigerian Celestine Babyaro has featured rarely this season, but one of his games was against Spurs at Stamford Bridge, so he might feature at the Lane too.  Regulars among the defenders are WiIliam Gallas and Wayne Bridge, with 20 odd games each.  Gallas provides an athletic and pacy presence in the back four, while the former SCBC man gives width and an attacking option up front.  French skipper Marcel Desailly has only played half the matches this season, being mixed and matched with Dutchman Mario Melchiot.  Of the two Melchiot is the more mobile player, as Desailly is coming to the end of his career.  Melchiot is good in the air and Desailly perhaps stronger on the ground, but as far as Tottenham are concerned, the best choice to suit our forwards would be Desailly.  The tall German defender Robert Huth is emerging as a favourite who Ranieri is bringing through into the side.  Determined and a big man to get past, he might be one for the future for Chelsea.

The preponderance of players in midfielders means that many of the staff in this area are unhappy at not getting a regular spot in the side.  Jesper Gronkjaer is saying that he might have to move away if he cannot get into the starting XI, while Claude Makelele has been named as one who will be disposed of during the summer.  The former Real Madrid man has made an impression in the side, but not been as dominant as Roman Abramovich had hoped.  Having said that, he has been a regular alongside former Iron Frank Lampard, who has established himself as the main man in midfield for Chelsea.  The same cannot be said for his team-mate Joe Cole, who still has not imposed himself on the games he has featured in, while producing the skills, but still lacking the end result.
Wide man Damien Duff has been out injured and will be looking to prove his worth at Chelsea, despite rumours of his imminent transfer to Old Trafford in exchange for Rio Ferdinand.  Quick, skilful and a good finisher, Duff has always played well against Spurs, so expect more of the same as he is an almost certain starter.  Mario Stanic will not be as he is out injured and both Emmanuel Petit and Juan Sebastian Veron are ruled out, as the ex-Gooner is still injured, while Veron is not going to be risked.  Most likely to feature will be a name much linked with Spurs in the past, but he chose to fight for his place in the midfield of Chelsea and has broken into the England team.  Scott Parker left the homely surroundings of Charlton for West London and has settled in well.  A solid tackler and good going forward, he may lack a little in pace, but with Tottenham's midfield, that might not see him troubled too much.  The one buy that Chelsea made that hasn't clicked is that of former Boro and Cameroon man Njitap Geremi.  The impact he made at Middlesbrough has not been shown at Chelsea and he might make an exit in June.

Whichever of the forwards play, Tottenham's defence will be tested for the full ninety minutes.  Romanian Adrian Mutu is not reckoned to have been a good buy at £15.8 million, as he has notched only six goals in 19 games.  But two of them came against Tottenham !!  One forward who regularly nets against us is Jimmy Floyd Hasslebaink and he showed he can still do it in the League with a hat-trick in 13 minutes after entering the Wolves game as a sub.  So powerful and difficult to shake off the ball, he presents a different risk to many of the forwards in the Premiership.  Argentinian Hernan Crespo was always a dangerous forward when he was at Parma and Lazio, it is no surprise that he has slipped into the scoring groove in England with eight in eleven matches.  He is strong in the air and has a powerful finish, but also a great touch and awareness of where his team-mates are.  Our last line of defence will have to be on their toes to make sure he stays at a distance where he cannot inflict any damage.  With the highest scoring Chelsea forward currently doing the business for Birmingham City (Mikael Forsell), his fellow Scandinavian forward Eidur Gujohnsen, is showing he has the ability to knock them in with the best of them.  The Icelandic striker has a strike rate of around one in two games at the moment and although he often looks like he is a bit lardy, when the ball is in front of him and the goal beckons, he can be surprisingly quick.

Spurs will need to maintain their concentration for 90 minutes, as the threat in this Chelsea side can come from anywhere.  With defenders scoring from open play, the Tottenham players in all positions must be aware of their defensive responsibilities.  If Jamie Redknapp starts, then there might be more of a creative flavour in the Tottenham midfield, but that means that someone has to cover runners from the Chelsea side, so hopefully, there will be players who track back to get goal side.   The chances Spurs do make must be converted, with Defoe and Keane needing to be deadly in their finishing.  If they can do that, and with hearts and minds on other things, we might just be able to cash in ...

PREDICTION : -   Tottenham  2   Chelsea  1

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.


It has not been possible to get a view from an opposition website.


TOTTENHAM : -  Dean Richards (ear infection); Rob Burch (ankle); Simon Davies (shin); Fredi Kanoute (shin); Stephen Carr (knee); Gary Doherty (ankle); Christian Ziege (groin); Darren Anderton (Achilles); Mbulelo Mabizela (knee)

CHELSEA : -  Glen Johnson (ankle); Carlo Cudicini (finger); Emmanuel Petit (knee); Mario Stanic (ankle); Juan Veron (back); Neil Sullivan (leg)

TV :  Live on
NTV Turkey
Galaxie Sport
C+ Deporte 1
C+ Blauw
Kiosque 5
TOP Channel
ART Sports 2
SuperSport 2
Sky Sport 1
C+ Sport (PL)
TV Sport RO
C+ Nordic
Diema 2
ART Sports 2
C+ Deporte 1

Radio :  Live commentary on BBC Five Live (606/939 AM); TalkSport (1089 AM)
Internet :  www.spurs.co.uk   Live webcast   (subscription only) 



Tottenham   0     Chelsea   1     (Half-time score : 0-1)
Premier League
Saturday 3rd April 2004
Venue : -  White Hart Lane
Kick Off : -  15.00 p.m.
Weather : -  Grey, but dry and mild
Crowd : -  36,101
Referee : -  S. Bennett (Orpington)
Teams : -  
Tottenham : -  Keller; Carr, Gardner, Doherty, Taricco (Kelly 61); King, Brown, Redknapp (Jackson 66), Ziege (Kanoute 46); Defoe, Keane 
Unused subs: Hirschfeld, Poyet

Chelsea : - Ambrosio; Terry, Gallas, Melchiot, Bridge; Duff, Makelele, Lampard, Parker (Cole 74); Hasselbaink (Crespo 86), Gudjohnsen (Gronkjaer 78)
Unused subs: Sullivan, Huth

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
Tottenham Hotspur Chelsea
Scorers : -  
Tottenham -  None

Chelsea  -   Hasselbaink 38

Cards : -  
Tottenham -     Taricco (foul) 55,     Carr (foul) 83

Chelsea  - None

The flat atmosphere that greeted the two teams was a strange one for a London derby, but perhaps Tottenham fans were expecting that their fate was already sealed.  The fact that only one goal did the sealing should not be allowed to hide the cracks that need major repair in the summer, rather than the paper-thin plastering that is currently going on under David Pleat.

To say that the team Spurs put out against a Chelsea side missing some of their big guns was nowhere near the West Londoners would be an understatement.  Playing Redknapp in such a game was a grave mistake, as he is not accustomed to the pace of the Premier League and although he might want to play for as long as possible, he might care to do that for another club.  His lack of pace, when tracking back was cruelly exposed and that will not return.  The reason I presume, he was included was to add a passing presence in the midfield, but the number of creative balls he sprayed around was minimal.  Leaving the field with a facial wound that required plastic surgery saw Jackson brought on and put in the middle of the midfield, rather than on his natural left side, where he could have done most damage. 

With Doherty and Carr recovering from their midweek knocks and Redknapp restored to midfield, the Spurs side looked to be the strongest that Pleat could select on paper.  However, the team never really gelled.  With Tottenham making forward runs from the start, it looked like we might take the game to Chelsea, but as the game settled down, they took control with increasing possession of the ball.  Early shots from both sides flew wide of the target, with Taricco and Lamppost shooting well over.  The most dangerous effort came from a corner, when Hasselbaink nodded the ball goalwards and Robbie Keane, stationed on the post, kicked the ball out.

Jermain Defoe, who looked lively and put in a lot of effort in closing players down, produced Tottenham's best effort to bring a save from Ambrosio in each half.  Taking a neat pass in from Brown, he turned and drilled in a low shot that the Italian keeper got down to hold.  The narrow margins that make such a big difference showed themselves, when Keano slipped a perceptive pass through the square Blues back-line, but Stephen Carr was just unable to get on the end of it.  The lack of a tall forward might have cost Tottenham a goal, as in the next attack, Ziege's precise right footed cross found Ledley King ghosting in between two Chelsea defenders to get in a free header.  However, his lack of experience in such situations saw him snatch at the header and put it well wide, without making Ambrosio work for his money.

Then, what do you know, Spurs allow a 38th minute lapse of concentration to gift Chelsea a goal.  Carr went missing in his right back role, leaving Duff with space wide of the box.  As Doherty came in to close him down, he delivered a low ball into the heart of the goalmouth and Hasselbaink was there to stick it past Keller for the lead.  IT was a soft goal and one that the visiting side had looked unlikely to get up until that point.  However, Spurs rarely looked like breaking through and even a minute after the goal, when Ziege sent Keane away from the halfway line, he took the ball all the way into the area, but his shot was kept out with the keeper's foot.

As the half time oranges beckoned, Spurs flung in a couple of crosses that flew across the face of goal, with Keane and then Defoe unable to get on the end of them.  The latter was Ziege's last part in the game, as he was replaced by Kanoute at the start of the second half, but the move to put Keane back into midfield barely worked, with him being a more advanced player than Kanoute on many occasions.  That left Spurs a bit light in midfield and as Chelsea knocked the ball about with consummate ease, there was little to suggest that Tottenham might get an equaliser.

Even when we did get near the goal, there was little fortune happening for Tottenham.  On two occasions, it looked like hands were used to stop Spurs players getting to the ball.  Firstly, in the first half, Melchiot got the wrong side of Keane and as the ball dropped over his head, he stuck out an arm that knocked the ball away from the Irishman.  Then even more blatantly, a shot fired in from outside the box was deflected away from goal, by John Terry's arm held stiffly out from his body.  The ref and the lineman must have been among the few who did not see it as a handball, but then it appeared that Bennett was reluctant to give any decision to Spurs ... even to the extent that he did not wave appeals away (as is the norm), but just moved on dispassionately to his next erroneous decision.  And that also includes the missing of Gronkjaer being all over and holding down Doherty at a corner.  He did see Taricco's cynical trip on Hasselbaink, who wanted to start a fight about it (doesn't he always ?) and adjudged Carr's tackle on Makelele near the end as a bookable offence, when it looked as though the former Real Madrid man was happy to fall under the slightest pressure.  This was something that Parker was also displaying, so it is a real surprise that he didn't sign for Arsenal rather than Chelsea.  He was also doing his best to wind up Taricco as was Hasselbaink and Lamppost.  Perhaps the time has come to leave this object of opposition wind-ups out of the side for a while.

Keller did well to stop a sharp shot from Duff and to keep Lampard out when he ran through the heart of the Tottenham defence following a five pass move taking Chelsea from their box to ours.  He was also alert when Gudjohnsen broke through to get to the ball first, but he let himself down with his kicking and distribution today.  Some of which was not helped by the static nature of our side, when they failed to move into space to receive the ball.  However, KK's kicking was woeful and his attempt to dribble the ball away from Hasselbaink even worse !!

A deft piece of work from Defoe almost caught Ambrosio off his line when he chipped up a shot from 30 yards that looked like it might just drop in under the bar, then came another shout for a penalty.  Keane produced a piece of skill to win the ball from Terry and then dinked it over Melchiot's head in the box.  As he turned and ran on to it, he was fallen on and although he managed to get the ball to Kanoute, there was blatant contact and no question that most referees would have at least considered whether it was a spot-kick.  However, this ref failed to give it and Kanoute was blocked by the keeper's dive.

Spurs put together a late rally, but it was all too late to make much of an effect on the Chelsea defence.  Gardner headed a corner towards goal and the keeper palmed it away, then in injury time, Anthony nodded a Jackson cross back across goal and Robbie Keane threw himself at it to hit a shot that was always going over the bar.  The few chances Tottenham did make they failed to make Ambrosio produce a difficult save and there is the crux for Spurs at the moment.  The games of many goals have gone to be replaced by a barren outfit, who are missing Simon Davies in midfield and the ones who are not favoured by Pleat (Ricketts and Dalmat) and are left off the bench, but who might make a difference in the outcome of some of these games.  Poyet's presence is one borne of nostalgia ... not of any aim to get something from a match.

The reality of this game was that Chelsea were using it as a gentle canter ahead of their Champions League match against Arsenal.  I hope they experience as much luck in that game and come out of it with the same result.






No passion against a side surely trying to evade injury for Tuesday.
No passing, which is what I thought Redknapp was in the side for.
No shape as the team was unbalanced with Pleat's picks.
No midfield, as Chelsea ran through the middle of the park with ease.
No tactical awareness of what was needed to change the direction of the game.
No practical use of the substitutes brought on.
No legs in midfield to cover when defending.
No decent service to the forwards.
No atmosphere from the fans, because there was
No action to get excited about.

All this means is ...
No win against Chelsea in 37 matches in the league.

Isaac Gregory

Not a very good game was it ?  I noticed when we have little strikers, we have the habit of pumping high balls all the time.
Should we avoid picking Taricco anymore this season, as I feel a red card will eventually come his way ?  I don't think we can afford this, or allow the opposition to wind him up.   I felt we were playing in slow motion for best part of the game, and should have used a bit more pace at times, because Chelsea were using it as a training match (or so it seems).

Eric Penn

At this rate we will never beat Chelsea, as their fans reminded us at the end of the game. We huffed and puffed and had a few chances but nothing gilt edged. Chelsea had the better of us in all departments. The truth is they are years ahead of us and we are stuck in mid table with about twelve other clubs. 

It doesn’t help when your caretaker plays Keane on the left, Brown on the right and Doherty in defence! We have the players to play in their rightful positions.

The sooner Robinson comes to The Lane from Leeds the better the defence will be. Keller is a good shot stopper, but dealing with crosses and his kicking leave a lot to be desired.

King should play alongside either Gardner or Mabizela. Mabizela is The South African Captain and Pleat is not playing him. Have a word. 

The middle of the park with Redknapp, Brown and King in today’s match was just over run. Lampard, Parker and Makelele showed us the difference in the teams. Those three Chelsea players starved our forwards of any kind of service.  Seeing Redknapp injured again just confirms that this player is injury prone.  Brown tries hard, but if we want to go forward then, at best, he is a squad player. 

We know the strikers can and will score goals, and it seems to me that Pleat is trying to keep them all happy by having all three of them on the pitch, which either leaves us short at the back or in midfield.  

We need at least two, if not three, top class midfield players if we want to be challenging for a European place and once we can secure that on a regular basis, we might then think about a Champions League place.  Again we find ourselves at the season's end two or three players short. When you think Hoddle brought in five players at the beginning of the season, with Defoe and Brown arriving in January and we still need players, and a manager, what kind of a mess are we in ?  

I dread the up and coming game against the forces of evil.  I know we will give them a good game, but like today’s game against Chelsea I would have taken a draw before kick off.  Let us hope next season is a lot better than this poor season that we have had.

Mario Sergides

Having seen Taricco's actions on TV, I must agree with the pundits that he is a liability to Tottenham and although he is a target for provocation, he has simply not learned to deal with it.  I don't think it is his "Argentinian blood" like Micky Adams said a few weeks back, I think he just does not have the right mind-set to deal with it.

Some players such as Vieira and Roy Keane have learned to deal with the winding -up that goes on, but Taricco's off the ball antics do nothing to endear him to the opposition and their fans and he actually provides a incitement for them to raise their game.  Some players such as Savage manage to wind teams up so much they lose their shape, but you could see that Chelsea were not going to lose out to a team with Taricco in it.

He was lucky that the ref did not see what went on, although that was entirely in keeping with everything else he didn't see in the match.  Going back to Hoddle's early days, he made the point that he did not want Tottenham players committing fouls like the one Taricco did at Everton and he needs to calm down if eh is to be of any use to Spurs.  

After getting booked (and being lucky it was Gardner alongside Hasselbaink when he cynically tripped him, or he would have been off), he was withdrawn before he got sent off.  The callers to the radio phone-ins saying it was because he has been out with a thigh problem were deluding themselves.  There were not many around me at the ground who felt it within them to applaud the actions he took in the white shirt of Spurs.

It is a shame, because in a few games of late he has played some good football and stuck to his defensive duties without resorting to the unnecessary antics.

Someone remind him of why we bought him, because I am sure it wasn't because of this sort of uproar.

The Polyphant


Other scores this weekend :
Middlesbrough 2 Bolton Wanderers 0 Saturday
Fulham 0 Birmingham City 0 Saturday
Newcastle United 4 Everton 2 Saturday
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 SCBC 4 Saturday
Liverpool 4 Blackburn Rovers 0 Sunday
Aston Villa 1 Manchester City 1 Sunday
Leeds United 3 Leicester City 2 Monday

F A Cup Semi-Finals


0 Manchester United 1 Saturday


1 Sunderland 0 Sunday


League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Arsenal 30 22 8 0 58 20 74 +38
2 Chelsea 31 22 4 5 58 24 70 +34
3 Manchester United 30 19 5 6 56 30 62 +26
4 Liverpool 31 13 10 8 46 31 49 +15
5 Newcastle United 31 12 12 7 45 33 48 +12
6 Birmingham City 31 12 10 9 37 36 46 +2
7 Aston Villa 31 12 8 11 39 36 44 +3
8 Charlton Athletic 30 12 7 11 41 39 43 +2
9 Fulham 31 11 8 12 42 40 41 +2
10 SCBC 31 11 9 11 34 29 42 +5
11 Middlesbrough 31 11 8 12 37 39 42 -2
12 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 31 11 4 16 40 48 37 -8
13 Bolton Wanderers 31 9 10 12 34 48 37 -14
14 Everton 31 8 10 13 38 45 34 -7
15 Manchester City 31 7 11 13 42 43 32 -1
16 Blackburn Rovers 31 8 7 16 42 52 31 -10
17 Portsmouth 30 8 6 16 32 45 30 -13
18 Leeds United 31 7 7 17 32 62 28 -30
19 Leicester City 31 5 13 13 41 55 28 -14
20 Wolverhampton Wanderers 31 5 9 17 27 66 24 -39

Back to homepage