Few things are certain in life, but the likelihood of Tottenham Hotspur
doing anything that you think they will remains one of life's great
surprises. With the early season form and history not favouring
them, they managed to leave Stamford Bridge with a point from a 1-1 draw
With Berbatov giving Spurs a taste of
what the future will be like without him, the side lined up once more
with only Darren Bent up front and a five man midfield given the job of
supporting him and stopping the Chelsea midfield dominating the match.
It was added to by the selection of Chris Gunter at right back and
Didier Zokora's move back to his midfield role, where he put in a fine
When the play started, Lampost hit a shot
well off target before hitting Zokora with a late tackle, which all
normal players would have been given a yellow card for. Gomes made
a fine backwards leap to tip the ball over the bar, when Lampost chipped
him from outside the area.
Spurs hit back in the fifth minute, with
a neat bit of skill by Luka Modric, who slipped the ball between Ashley
Cole's legs, fed Gareth Bale and the ball was moved through Giovani to
draw the ball back for Darren Bent, but his shot was touched wide off a
defender's leg. Deco was the first into the ref's notebook, after
he fouled Giovani, who got past him.
Nicolas Anelka had a chance in the 20th
minute, when the ball dropped to him from a corner, but he failed to get
his effort on target and it was the French forward, five minutes later,
who nipped between King and Woodgate, but with only Gomes to beat, he
thrashed at the ball and it flew over the top. A minute later,
Chelsea came even closer to scoring. After walking through two
Spurs challenges, Michael Essien smashed a shot
that bounced back off the bar and it was cleared by Jonathan Woodgate
for a corner, but complaints were made to the officials that there was
an offside when Essien shot.
From that contested corner, the first
goal came. It came in low and Bent went to clear it, but only
succeeded in slicing the ball, straight onto Belletti, who the loose
ball hit on it's way into the net to make it 1-0 to the home side.
When Zokora was hacked down by Joe Cole,
it was a second yellow card for Chelsea and a minute after that, in
added time at the end of the first half, the scores were levelled by an
opportunistic Darren Bent strike. Modric was competing for the
ball with Lampost, who managed to deflect the ball into the path of
Bent, who took the ball and slipped it through Cech's legs to make the
half-time score 1-1.
After the break, the early chance again
came to Chelsea and Ashley Cole struck a low ball across the face of
goal with pace, Deco hit a shot wide and Lampard tried his one-trick
chip that went over. Amongst this Carvalho was forced to mis-kick a Bale
cross that could have gone anywhere, but went off for a corner.
While Tottenham had their fair share of possession after the hour mark,
they failed to do much with it and left the ball for Cech and his
defenders to pick off from crosses.
It is interesting what Chelsea get away
with, as Modric was "eased" off the ball with John Terry's
chest and arm and what Bosingwa must have felt after getting a caution for his foul on Bale,
which was deserved but a lesser offence than his captain's, albeit a
cynical trip on Bale as he burst past him. On the
ball, Anelka hit one wide and then Tottenham played some good possession
football, but failed to find the killer pass at the end of it.
With time going over the 90 minutes, Lampost crumpled far too easily as
Woodgate challenged him and Essien was well-positioned, but hit his shot
At the end of the game, a draw was
probably the right result. Spurs had defended in numbers for a lot
of the second half, which is a tactic that has often allowed the other
side to build pressure and score a late winner. As it was,
Woodgate's towering performance was enough to keep Chelsea at bay and
the players put in a good amount of effort to thwart Chelsea's attacking
Is this the start of a recovery of form ?
Is this the first of a new standard of performance in what must soon be
the post-Berbatov era ? Has Ramos got plans to change the way we
play when Pavlyuchenko is available and any of the new players who will
be coming in over the next 48 hours ? I hope so.
By the time we play Villa, it could be a
very different looking team that takes to the field in lilywhite shirts.