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Goalless in SW6

Posted on 20 September 2004  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

Continuing our, hopefully, considered and occasionally offbeat look at our games with reflections on the trip to Chelsea on Sunday...



LIES DAMNED LIES and statistics - so the saying from across the pond goes. As always, when the time comes to face Chelsea our recent record against the Blues is trotted out from just about every angle as if it forms some sort of essential preview material.


Yup, we know: 1990, 28 league games - now 29 - not beaten them in the Premiership. This is a new team though, one that should not overly concern itself with facts, stats and figures from past. It is all about the present and future now.


Still on the subject of stats, how about this one? One of the Sunday tabs published a 'Hall of Shame' table - with Jamie Redknapp in third place! Jamie may be a lot of things, but scourge of referees he aint. By the way, he achieved this lofty position with three yellow cards before receiving another delivered here by hand from referee Mike Riley...


Thinking about our newly-appointed midfield terminator reminds of a fairly recent radio interview with former ref David Elleray plugging his book. In the book he described one Darren Anderton as the player he most dreaded officiating. It's always the quiet ones.


No Shaggy here though, but a start for Simon Davies on the right of midfield in place of Michael Brown, while Robbie Keane stepped in for Fredi Kanoute.


Didier Drogba was first to click into gear on just approaching four minutes when he went through one on one with Paul Robinson with, thankfully, our new goalkeeper winning the early duel. Chelsea went on to pretty much boss events in the opening 15 minutes without causing too much further alarm as the boys were set with Defoe up top, with Keane effectively being deployed behind in an advanced midfield position.


Atouba and Davies were pushed out wide and Redknapp and Mendes offered an additional layer of protection in front of the back line. So, while Chelsea were getting a bit of the ball they weren't allowed to do much with it as Santini's charges prodded a foothold into the game and gently probed the home defences for an opening.


With the respective defensive records of the two teams, cheap goals were always unlikely and Eidur Gudjohnsen would not have expected an easy ride from Ledley King when he broke through on the 20 minute mark. Ledley did not disappoint and looks even more accomplished with each game he plays.


Joe Cole then set off on a darting little run towards our area, one that resulted in Tiago spooning an effort wide. Robinson was called into decisive action again on 32 minutes when the ball found Drogba inside the area. The costly recruit from Marseille spun and shot first time only to find that Robinson was already off his line and ready to smother.


Redknapp then tested the solidity of the Chelsea wall from a free-kick five minutes before the break. Drogba was again the threat just after half-time with a cheeky overhead kick from the right of the six yard box as the home side sought again to break down the barricades.


Going back to the stats theme, Ledley, it has been calculated, has not committed a foul since playing for England against Iceland in June. Five minutes into the second period here he gets booked for a foul on Drogba - his first of the season. No totting up process there by ref Mr Riley.


For the record - stats again - historian Andy Porter informs that this was Ledley's third card in 136 senior appearances for Spurs. The previous ones were 27.08.03 v Liverpool away 56th minute & 13.09.01 v Torquay United home (FLC) 57th minute.


The chance to take the lead well and truly presented itself on 55 minutes when a Davies cross from the right landed plonk on the head of Keane in front of goal. A powerful header followed, but it was close enough to Petr Cech for the keeper to shovel away in spectacular fashion.


At the other end, Drogba on the charge rounded Robinson and it was Naybet to the rescue with an expertly timed challenge.


With 25 minutes remaining, Cole and Tiago were replaced by Damien Duff and Meteja Kezman as Jose Mourinho attempted to inject a sense of urgency into his troops that were drifting slightly into retreat.


A good spell of possession was then enjoyed before Atouba, clearly struggling, was taken off and replaced by Brown for the final 16 minutes to give more bite to an, on the day, already snappy midfield. If you judge a half by a goalkeeper's productivity, Cech was certainly the busier up to this point.


It was nearly a case of tempting fate when Lampard whipped a free-kick through a crowd of players and Robinson was forced to display his reflexes to crucial effect. Things were getting a little too close for comfort as balls were flashing across our area in the final stages, then Gudjohnsen hit the post with just six minutes left on the clock.


Defoe went down under a challenge from two defenders after being played through by Mendes before being replaced by Fredi Kanoute on 86 minutes.


Five minutes extra was added on for stoppages that passed without worthy incident and Robinson duly recorded a fourth clean sheet of the season as the two teams with the best defensive records lived up to their billing.


A few more clean sheets and I can feel a new stat coming along!