Tuesday 17th April 2001
|The run has gone
on for too long. The law of averages says that we must beat
Chelsea some time and this time is as good as ever. If some of the
regular first- teamers are back for this one, I am sure that they can
put one over on Hoddle's former club.
The season has not been all plain sailing for Chelsea. Starting with Gianluca Vialli in charge, he paid the price for not being as successful as Ken Bates would like him to have been. To replace him, the Bearded One brought in Claudio Ranieri from Italy via Valencia; a man who spoke little English, but that wouldn't matter with the mixed nationalities at Stamford Bridge. Things haven't been that pleasing for the glory hunting crowd of Chelsea fans and there has been a lot of division about he merits of the manager. Even the players appeared to be revolting at one stage !!
One move that Ranieri has made is to install Claudio Cudicini in goal and the young Italian has done well, as long as he doesn't have to use his feet too much. There could be a weakness in the air and crosses to test him out with our forwards flying in to meet them might unsettle him. This has left the hulking figure of Ed de Goey out of favour, but he is a capable keeper too and his height is an advantage in dealing with shots away from his body, although curiously, he is not that brilliant in the air. The rehabilitated Graeme Le Saux and Celestine Babayaro flank Leboeuf and Desailly in the middle of the defence. Spaniard Albert Ferrer has fallen out of favour and sometimes Mario Melchiot plays in the back four, releasing Desailly into midfield. Young English defender Paul Terry also has played in the defence recently, whereas left back John Harley has been out of the side.
The midfield section of the team contains Wise, Gronkjaer, Dalla Bona, Morris, Jokanovic and Poyet. The Uruguayan Poyet is a typical modern midfielder, playing up and down the middle of the pitch, he gets forward and scores more than his fair share of goals. Wise is a short, annoying character and he seems to have coached Jovanovic, who was last seen raking Don Hutchinson's head while he lay on the floor. Youngster Jody Morris had a bright future, but has been overlooked in favour of a young Italian - Samuel Dalla Bona - who the manager fancies more than the diminutive Morris. Most interesting of them all is Jesper Gronkjaer, the Dane who Ajax cashed in on, plays on the flank and has lightning speed. He can turn a defender and can finish, although his awareness of where his team mates are around him can be a bit suspect. He could cause any side problems and needs to be marshalled well if Spurs are to keep Chelsea out.
Up front the frightening Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink leads the Chelsea line, partnered to best effect by Gianfranco Zola. The little Italian is highly and technically skilled and can set up chances with ease. For a small man he gets a good number of headed goals and uses his experience to be in the right place at the right time. Hasselbaink tends to rely on strength and pace to do the damage. Spurs should know about him from his time at Leeds and from earlier this season, when he scored against us. Mario Stanic has regained fitness and has played - mainly as sub - but he is able to score from almost anywhere as his goal early on in the season against West ham United showed. One player who would have been a good signing for Spurs - Eidur Gudjohnsen - has scored regularly when he has played, but doesn't seem to be the manager's first choice. Although not as pacy as Hasselbaink, he knows where the goal is and can score from tight situations.
There is a wealth of talent at Chelsea, but the problem has been harnessing it to produce consistent performances. Until recently, they were below Spurs in the League and only their good run has taken them up into the top ten. Having as bad a time away from home as Spurs, we hope that their trip across from West London has taken a lot out of them.
PREDICTION : - Tottenham 1 Chelsea 0
For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.
|Tottenham 0 Chelsea 3
- Tuesday 17th
Weather : - Chilly, light
Tottenham: Sullivan, Carr, Doherty, Perry (Gardner
37), Young, Thelwell, Sherwood, Davies (Piercy 75), Clemence
(Etherington 82), Korsten, Rebrov.
"Twenty" and "four" were two words I had hoped not to use in this report, but still, our regular lack of a win against the Pensioners was on the cards as soon as the referee decided to hand them out to Korsten. It was a rash challenge having only been booked about 10 minutes previously, but he had his feet low on the grass, he was late, but it was not intended to hurt Melchiot and the rain that was falling had made the pitch a little slippy. However, the match official was intent (more than Korsten meant) on producing a card as soon as it happened. Such instant decisions can only spoil games and although Spurs might not have got anything from the match, the dismissal almost ensured that. The remainder of the game was spent chasing the ball when Chelsea had the man advantage, despite Dennis Wise raising an arm into John Piercy's face when he made a challenge on the little irritant late on.
Prior to the game there was a minute's silence, which was well observed by both sets of supporters, for the referee who collapsed and died at Southend United's game on Monday. The game itself started off in a strange manner. Both sides were giving the ball away and it was Chelsea who settled first. Sullivan was forced into flying save from Hasselbaink (who didn't even get a corner for it) and Le Saux. Spurs didn't really show much in the first half, only a Rebrov shot which went way over the bar and when Davies' hooked shot over his shoulder had Cudicini scrambling across his goalmouth, but it went wide of the upright. Tottenham's play was a bit ragged and the marking for Chelsea's first goal must be questioned. A straightforward corner saw Hasselbaink get to the ball first and head home past Sullivan. It was just the precursor to Korsten's sending off and then Chelsea taking it easy before knocking in a quality goal in Poyet's volley from Le Saux's excellent low, pacy cross and then Gudjohnsen scoring past Sullivan in injury time.
There is still along way to go to catch up a team like Chelsea, let alone Arsenal and Manchester United. It would have been more of a guide to how we are doing had we had a full team out, but the way things have gone for about five years now that may never happen. Purchasing during the summer will be Hoddle's number one priority and hopefully, he will have seen enough of the team in action to know which players to bring in to blend with those at the club already. The second half of this match showed how difficult it is for the team to hold onto possession, as that was what was necessary when they had only ten men. With another decent midfielder who can create chances, the team may do a lot better. But that is for next season as we still have four games to get through with a rapidly diminishing squad.
|The crucial moment in this match
came when Graham Barber the referee produced a second yellow card for
Willem Korsten just before half-time. One nil down already, there
was to be no way back for Spurs as Chelsea then proceeded to knock the
ball about with ease. Let's face it Korsten is hardly a hard
man. In most games he rarely gets up a head of steam, let alone
have to let it off. He's a pussycat, Willem !!
Still we were already 0-1 down and not looking like we would trouble Cudicini in the Blues goal, as it was the 66th minute that he first had to get his knees dirty. An acrobatic overhead swipe by Davies in the first half had been the closest threat prior to that and his effort had slipped just past the post. The only real effort worthy of note in the second half came from Rebrov, whose shot was straight at the Chelsea keeper.
At the other end Hasselbaink was the main threat, although Anthony Gardner did well against him, using his pace to good use after he came on. He notched the first with a reasonably easy header, then hit a curving shot past the post, before losing out on a one-on-one with Sullivan in the second half. He finished off the game with a shot almost over the South Stand, when the ball took a wicked bobble, just as he was preparing to shoot alone in the box. Apart from him, there was little direct threat form any other Chelsea player, so maybe that has been their problem this season. It just so happened that the injury to Perry meant that, with Doherty up front, there was little cover for the defence. The midfield battled away, but really were given the runaround as Zola showed what class he has and how we ever passed up the opportunity to take him is a mystery only to be solved by Scully and Mulder.
For Spurs, as usual, Neil Sullivan was the star. His string of excellent saves kept the score down to three and kept his reputation as a reliable keeper intact. Apart form him, very few shone, but in the climate of 10 v 11, that would have been very difficult anyway. It was disappointing that once again the referee chose to enforce the letter of the law on some occasions and allow some to escape scot-free on others. The inconsistency is what annoys fans more than anything.
While there was a minute's silence for the relatively young referee who died (showing that we are all mortal), there were few moments of peacefulness for the one running this match.
Back to homepage