Monday, March 19, 2007

Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea FA Cup 6th Round Replay

Chelsea Replay Preview

Monday, 19th March, 2007 KO: 8.05pm

Spurs' last 8 games: W W D W W W W W (it looks great!)

Referee: Howard Webb

The season just keeps rolling on and the next game is always the most important as was the case with Watford on Saturday, a job well done. But now this really is the BIG one. Chelsea were relieved to leave Stamford Bridge with a draw and have another chance at White Hart Lane while Spurs were the disappointed side, that they hadn’t finished off what they had so nearly achieved.

Following the goal-fest in the first game, the replay might be a more cagy affair with only a goal in it. Chelsea will have no problem with coming to Tottenham - they will be confident of getting a result and will be quite happy to grind out a score if that’s what’s necessary, as they have done on occasions in the League and European competitions. Whether that type of game would suit Spurs is uncertain but they must set aside any lingering thoughts that they have missed their best opportunity and take confidence from their good form and build on what they achieved a week ago.

Since the teams last met a week ago, both have completed routine victories to maintain their recent good form – Spurs reaching the UEFA Cup Q/F against SC Braga and taking three points from Watford, while Chelsea defeated Man City (a) 1-0 (Lampard (pen)) and Sheffield United (h) 3-0 (Shevchenko, Kalou, Ballack).

Both teams should see players returning, Robinson, Keane and Jenas for Spurs, while Terry and Makelele will be looking to bring greater stability to what was a very suspect Chelsea defence last Sunday. However, Terry and the other Chelsea defenders must be concerned about facing Berbatov especially in his current form and supported by Keane, Lennon and Jenas they could have a busy evening.

The power of the Chelsea midfield of Lampard, Ballack, Essien and Robben will be a constant threat to Spurs but they coped well on Sunday and managed to limit Drogba’s opportunities to influence the game. Total concentration and commitment will again be necessary if Spurs are to be successful. Spurs’ inability to keep a ‘clean sheet’ is a source of encouragement to the opposition who must always feel that they have a chance to score. This would be a very good time to keep the opposition at bay and look to our strike force to make it a great FA Cup night at White Hart Lane.

Past results have no bearing on this match but the clubs have met in the FA Cup at White Hart Lane on three occasions. Spurs won the 1957 encounter 4-0, the 1963 game was drawn 1-1 and Chelsea reversed the 1957 score in the most recent game in the 6th Round in 2002.

In recent weeks Spurs have taken a massive step forward, they are now closing in on fourth or fifth in the Premiership, their Cup progress has been exciting and they have been playing in a style more reminiscent of Tottenham of old. This is the big test – can they overcome Chelsea to show that they are really there or will it be a case of so near but not quite good enough. In the Carling Cup semi-final for thirty minutes, it looked as if it had all come together but with the departure of Berbatov, so went Spurs chances. Berbatov is crucial to Spurs, but those around him must ensure they play their part to achieve the success so craved at Spurs.

Both teams are showing good form, Chelsea undefeated in domestic competitions since their loss at Tottenham in November, but something will have to give this time.
Chelsea’s recent form: W W D W W W D W

This has to be the night for Spurs to make a bold statement and show their intent – no more ‘nearly’ results, no more undefeated in Cup competitions in 90 minutes, no defeat on penalties – it’s time for Spurs to defeat one of the ‘top’ teams, time for a Spurs’ success in one of these big games and progress to a semi-final tie against Blackburn Rovers.


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