OPPONENTS Chelsea at Stamford Bridge
COMPETITION Premier League 
DATE Wednesday 27th February 2019
PREVIEW Tottenham's defeat at Burnley wasn't quite the result we had hoped for with a tough week ahead of the side.  However, I didn't suspect that Chelsea  wanted to go to extra time in the League Cup final against Manchester City before losing on penalties and having the controversy of goalkeeper Arrizabalaga refusing to leave the pitch when the substitute's board went up with his number on it. 

The fact that they now have a game against Spurs might perk them up as an instant opportunity to bury the bad memories of Wembley on Sunday and earlier in the season when Spurs took the points with a fine win.  Manager Sarri will be hoping for some sort of result to keep him in a job at Stamford Bridge, but with the players seemingly in revolt, it looks like the return of player power that saw off a number of decent managers.   You have to think that at some stage, managers will refuse to take them on and Chelsea's fans will have to be careful what they wish for.

This season started well for the Pensioners, but they have been bumbling along with erratic results, such as a big win over Huddersfield, mixed in with mullerings from Bournemouth and Manchester CIty.

So, what can we expect tomorrow ?

Spurs haven't covered themselves in glory after the Turf Moor debacle, which could yet see Pochettino banished form the touchline.  There was little pace or urgency in the play, which you would have thought might have been necessary after Burnley's performance at Wembley.  The side were out-muscled and have to be careful that Chelsea don't see their best chance of a win being the return to the Battle of the Bridge and winding things up to such a level that there will be little of football to talk of.  Tottenham should be better prepared for such an approach now than back then, but with Dier missing, the heart of the midfield will need to be strong and dominate the likes of Jorginho and Kante.

Obviously Hazard is their main threat, but if Hudson-Odoi plays, he might produce some trickery up the right wing, with players also capable of making an impact in Giroud in the air and Barkley on the floor, if they produce good performances.  The defence has it's limitations and Moura could well test their tackling ability with his pace and Son's dribbling might also attract rash challenges.  Luiz will target Kane for rough treatment, but a lot could depend on whether Sarri bites the bullet in the hope of a win by selecting Kepa having accepted his apology or punishing him by dropping him for Cabellero.  Willy was left standing by Eriksen's dipper at the Bridge when he last faced us, so the memories of the last victory there should feature in Tottenham's mental approach and could cast shadows on the keeper's performance if he is selected.

What chance have Spurs got ?  Well, having watched Burnley raise their game against us on Saturday, only to flop to defeat at Newcastle, you can bet that Chelsea will up their game against Spurs despite their loss at the weekend.  But then, maybe, it will depend on how much the Chelsea players want to see the back of Sarri.

With all that in mind and London derbies being hard to predict, this could be the game that sees the end of our "Undrawable" run.

PREDICTION Chelsea    1        Tottenham Hotspur    1
Premier League Kick off 20:00
Chelsea  2 (0)  
Tottenham Hotspur  - (0)

Pedro  56m 27s
Trippier (o.g.)  83m 41s



Crowd :  40,542 Weather :  Dry, mild
Referee : Andre Marriner (West Midlands) Assistant Referees :  Mr. Scott Ledger; Mr. Simon Long
Fourth Official :  Kevin Friend  
Spurs kicked off and played towards the Matthew Harding stand in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 6 minutes.
Luiz (kick on Kane off the pitch)  90+4


Kane (retaliation)  90+4


Chelsea : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit

28  Cesar AZPILICUETA (c)
30  David LUIZ
2  Antonio RUDIGER
  3  Marcos ALONSO


11  PEDRO 
17  Mateo KOVACIC  (12  Ruben LOFTUS-CHEEK  77)
  7  N'Golo KANTE

  9  Gonzalo HIGUAIN  (18  Olivier GIROUD  84)
10  Eden HAZARD  (22  WILLIAN  60)

Unused subs: 
20  Callum HUDSON-ODOI

   1  Hugo LLORIS  (c)

  2  Kieran TRIPPIER
  6  Davinson SANCHEZ
33  Ben DAVIES

  8  Harry WINKS
7  Moussa SISSOKO  (  3  Danny ROSE  85)

11  Erik LAMELA  (18  Fernando LLORENTE  70)
Christian ERIKSEN
  7  Heung-Min SON  (27  Lucas MOURA  80)

10  Harry KANE

Unused subs: 
  Victor WANYAMA
24  Serge AURIER
1  Juan FOYTH

Manager :  Maurizio Sarri Manager :  Mauricio Pochettino
Sponsor :   Yokohama Tyres Shirt sponsor :  AIA
Kit Supplier :  Nike Kit Supplier :   Nike
Match report


Tottenham began giving away a couple of free-kicks around the box, which Chelsea didn’t make anything of, but, in the fifth minute, Sissoko headed the ball sideways in his own box, Higuain struck a shot with some slice that came back out off Lloris’ left hand post with him left standing.  Whether it had anything to do with Pochettino’s outburst at Dean on Saturday, but referee Marriner was letting a lot go against Spurs, with Kane and Son twice being fouled without getting anything. Chelsea even wanted a penalty. When Azpilicueta drove a cross in that struck Davies’ arm, but it wasn’t an unnatural position and he was reasonably close. It was a corner and from it, Tottenham messed up the clearance at the near post and Kovacic scissor-kicked the loose ball way too high.

Inconsistency in officiating saw Kovacic given two free-kicks for little contact and Hazard one for stopping playing when hassled by Sissoko when the Chelsea midfielder was on the ball. Spurs were almost their own worst enemy, as Lloris played the ball out of his box, but straight to Pedro. His ball inside was behind Hazard, but he set it back for Higuain, who curled a shot wide of the goal from 12 yards with eighteen minutes gone.

Sissoko won the ball 20 yards out, then lost it, allowing Higuain to be played through. Hugo came  out to grab it at his feet, not realising that the linesman had already flagged for offside. Chelsea were getting numbers around Spurs when on the ball and were crowding out white shirts when they looked to go forward. The home team got the hump when Spurs returned the ball to Chelsea when Trippier needed treatment after Hazard had hit him across his face with his forearm. Luiz chested it up in the air and played it back to the goalkeeper, then started having a go at Harry Kane when he closed the keeper down. Azpilicueta got involved to try and wind things up and disrupt our game.

It proved counter-productive, as Luiz lost Son in the next attack and only Alonso’s tackle robbed him of a shooting chance. Neither side’s passing was fluent and Chelsea’s goal came under threat when Trippier flashed a free-kick into the area and the Chelsea stand-in goalkeeper took out Rudiger in his attempt to reach the ball. Son also hit a cross low across the face of goal, with Cabellero not getting a touch on it, but there was no white shirt beyond the players in the middle to finish it off. The level of Marriner’s incompetence reached a new low when Pedro ran into Lamela on the edge of the Chelsea box and he got the free-kick !

Kane’s quick free-kick saw him break forward and hit a shot that was deflected wide for a corner.  Both sides were giving the ball away unnecessarily, but a minute before half time, Harry Winks almost replicated Eriksen’s goal of last season when Kane rolled the ball in front of him 23 yards out and his shot dipped over Cabellero and rebounded out off the bar.  Then  Son out-paced Kovacic and his cross was hit low across goal with pace and Cabellero didn’t get a touch, but there was no white shirt on the far post beyond the defenders in the middle of the goal to finish it off.

The game got to half-time without a goal and somewhat unsurprisingly as there were no shots on target from either side and it had been ragged, with Chelsea putting a lot of effort in to stop Spurs having time on the ball. Having played extra time on Sunday, would they be able to continue it for the full game.

When Chelsea kicked off the second half, Jorginho did what he often does at kick offs and wrestled Kane out of the way when he was trying to close the ball down. It took until the 53 rd minute for some goalmouth action, when Higuain went through and dinked a shot over Lloris as he came out at his feet, but the offside flag had been raised long before.

Chelsea worked the ball out form the back and Ben Davies was isolated on the left with two Chelsea players, with Azpilicueta releasing Pedro. He cut inside Alderweireld and his low shot hit Lloris’ heel as it went through his legs to allow Chelsea to take the lead. Willian took Hazard’s place, but it was the goal-scorer who turned the goal protector, when Eriksen made a run through a couple of challenges in the box before Pedro slid in to rob the ball from him as he prepared to shoot. Kane had an opportunity when Davies put in a cross from the left and his volley went wide, as Lamela dived in for a header in front of him just after the hour.

Sissoko won a corner as Luiz slid in and Trippier took it, but Toby headed it wide. Substitutions came  and went, but Spurs were moving the ball slowly and couldn’t find the space or movement to create a clear opening. Chelsea dropped a lot of men back behind the ball as soon as they lost it and Spurs were not making inroads into their half quickly enough to catch them short-handed.

Chelsea had just brought Giroud on as a sub and a long ball was headed on by him. Trippier was under no pressure, but as Lloris came out to claim the ball, the right back slipped it past him and into the net with only one player within 20 yards. It was a shocking mess up and one that certainly condemned Tottenham to defeat. And on a night when other teams around us all won, it was the worst ending and with Arsenal on Saturday not the greatest preparation.

To be honest, the Spurs team never looked like getting anything from this game and with late free-kicks all going Chelsea’s way, they ran time down to ease to the three points. Mentality or just a case of the opposition raising their game against us, Spurs failed to produce a performance for the second game running at a time in the season when the results we dug out in previous weeks looked a long way from the way we played tonight.

With some big games till to come, will Pochettino be able to gee them up to finish strongly, despite the title challenge (much as it was) slipping away. We need to secure third place, with other sides closing in on us after the last week’s games.

Tony Armitage

Match facts


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What you thought
Stan Chun Another limp performance with no shots on target just when we needed to test out a goalkeeper who has been little used and will have remembered last season, when we won there. 

We didn't deserve to win, but the worrying thing is how we are playing and not getting at teams with pace or on the break.  Over the last two games we have looked tired and lacking ideas.  It could be down to tiredness, with the small squad meaning most players have played most of the games, but against Chelsea, it looked like us who had played 120 minutes and then gone through penalties on Sunday.

Poch needs to exercise his influence to pick the players up for Saturday and beyond, but I hope they don't rush Dele back too soon, otherwise it might mean more time out.

- -.



Other scores during this week :
Cardiff City 0 Everton 3 Tuesday
Huddersfield Town 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Tuesday
Leicester City 2 Brighton & Hove Albion 1 Tuesday
Newcastle United 2 Burnley 0 Tuesday
Arsenal 5 Bournemouth 1 Wednesday
Crystal Palace 1 Manchester United 3 Wednesday
Liverpool 5 Watford 0 Wednesday
Manchester City 1 West Ham United London 0 Wednesday
Southampton 2 Fulham 0 Wednesday


League Table  2018-19
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Liverpool 28 21 6 1 64 15 66 +49
2 Manchester City 28 22 2 4 75 20 68 +55
3 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 28 20 0 8 55 29 60 +26
4 Arsenal 28 17 5 6 60 38 56 +22
5 Manchester United 28 16 7 5 55 36 55 +19
6 Chelsea 27 16 5 6 47 29 53 +18
7 Wolverhampton Wanderers 28 11 7 10 35 35 40 0
8 Watford 28 11 7 10 39 40 40 -1
9 Everton 28 10 6 12 39 39 36 0
10 West Ham United London 28 10 6 12 35 41 36 -6
11 Leicester City 28 10 5 13 34 39 35 -5
12 Bournemouth 28 10 4 14 39 53 34 -14
13 Newcastle United 28 8 7 13 26 34 31 -8
14 Crystal Palace 28 8 6 14 32 38 30 -6
15 Burnley 28 8 6 14 31 50 30 -19
16 Brighton & Hove Albion 27 7 6 14 29 41 27 -12
17 Southampton 28 6 9 13 30 46 27 -16
18 Cardiff City 28 7 4 17 25 55 25 -30
19 Fulham 28 4 5 19 26 63 17 -37
20 Huddersfield Town 28 3 5 20 15 50 14 -35


Position before match :  3rd
Position after match :  3rd
Position after the mid-week matches :  3rd


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