Ignoring the last FA Cup game against Chelsea for obvious reasons, preferring the 6th Round game at Stamford Bridge in 1982 when Spurs as Cup holders met the 2nd Division side who had defeated European Champions, Liverpool, in the previous round. A memorable game as Spurs appeared in an all white strip with yellow socks and as the game progressed everything clicked for them. Chelsea had taken a first half lead but gradually Spurs started to show their superior class with Glenn Hoddle giving a master class of ball control. Eventually Spurs scored when Steve Archibald poked the ball home after the Chelsea goalkeeper failed to hold a Hoddle free-kick. Spurs immediately stepped up a gear and within ten minutes were 3-1 ahead. The second goal was a masterpiece. Hoddle and Hazard cut through the Chelsea midfield with an exchange of passes and, after Hazard's flick had left them wrong-footed, Hoddle crashed a 25-yard drive past the goalkeeper. Hazard then confirmed Tottenham's superiority with a coolly taken drive and although Chelsea pulled a goal back Spurs coasted home on a wave of possession football. The performance was even greater as the match was played on a barren pitch with a very uneven bounce. (Just why was Hazard included in the Daily Mail’s all time worst Spurs team?)
A similar performance and result on Sunday would be very, very satisfying but just as Chelsea sought revenge in the last FA Cup meeting in 2002 following their Worthington Cup defeat, so Spurs need to avoid being caught in the same way as Chelsea seek to avenge the Premiership defeat at White Hart Lane in November.
This preview is more difficult than against most other teams because when you look at Spurs’ record against Chelsea – the last win at Stamford Bridge was in 1990, David Howells and Gary Lineker scored – and compare it with Chelsea’s record at Stamford Bridge under Mourinho, only two defeats in 80 games – against Barcelona in the Champions League and to Charlton on penalties – you realise the extent of the task facing Spurs.
Spurs are the last English team to defeat Chelsea although they did lose to Werder Bremen in the Champions League.
Chelsea have been favoured with this season’s FA Cup draw – this is their fourth home game, having defeated Macclesfield, Nottingham Forest and Norwich in the previous rounds.
Mourinho has shown respect for what Martin Jol has achieved at Spurs in that he has always sent out a full strength side against Tottenham. He will be anxious to include John Terry if he is given the all clear by the medical staff as the Chelsea defence is so much more secure when he plays. Chelsea have relied heavily on Didier Drogba this season for their inspiration and outstanding goals (29) and while Shevchenko is showing improving form he has yet to reach the level of performance shown before coming to England. The Spurs midfield will have to be at their very best to compete against Ballack, Essien, Makelele, Lampard but if they can, then Berbatov, Lennon and Keane or Defoe are capable of creating problems for Chelsea’s defence.
At least Spurs are going into this game with confidence following their five consecutive wins and if they need inspiration to believe they can win on Sunday, they need look no further that a 6th Round tie in 1995 when Spurs had to go to Anfield and given little chance, Sheringham and Klinsmann combined to give Spurs an impressive, if unexpected 2-1 victory. Can Berbatov and Keane combine to produce a similar result on Sunday?
This game will show whether Spurs’ improvement has been more due to the standard of opposition they have played recently or whether they have taken a real step forward. Recent visits to Stamford Bridge have seen Spurs compete and make Chelsea earn a result, while just falling short themselves – perhaps this time they will get some reward for their endeavours. (Although with Mike Riley in charge, Spurs will do well not to concede any penalties.)