Saturday, March 24, 2012

Chelsea 0 Tottenham 0

Spurs took a deserved point from Stamford Bridge as they maintained their five point lead over Chelsea.  Although scoreless, after a quiet first half Spurs finished the stronger and had the greater opportunities to win the three points at a ground where they haven't won since 1990.

Chelsea 0 Tottenham Hotspur 0
Team: Friedel; Walker, Gallas, Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto; Modric, Parker, Sandro (Livermore), Bale, Van der Vaart (Saha); Adebayor  Subs: (unused) Cudicini, Rose, Nelsen, Kranjcar, Defoe

Tottenham had three changes to the team which took a point from their home match with Stoke City in mid-week.  William Gallas replaced Ledley King with Sandro and Emmanuel Adebayor returning in place of in Niko Kranjcar and Louis Saha.

Spurs started cautiously in the first half, an understandable approach taking into account their recent lack of form and their record at Stamford Bridge. Neither side created many openings in that first period and although Chelsea had a couple of chances which Spurs dealt with, it was Spurs who had the best opportunity of the half in added time.  

Lampard went down as he went through on goal but the referee waved play on and then Drogba got behind the Spurs defence but with three defenders surrounding him, Younes Kaboul recovered to get a foot to the ball and knock it away from danger.  Adebayor made a good break but his cross was too high for an advancing Kyle Walker.  Then in added time, Modric worked his way into the penalty area and pulled the ball back, it was deflected to Rafael Van der Vaart whose powerful shot was blocked by Cech as was the rebound and the next rebound was headed over by Adebayor for the last action of the half.  Van der Vaart's first shot was hit too centrally and straight at the goalkeeper, giving Cech the chance to make the block - a great opportunity missed by Spurs.

Gradually, through the second half the game came more open but apart from a couple of scares, Spurs were quite untroubled and became more positive in their approach and had the best chances to take the points.  Early in the half, Gallas misjudged a high ball from Cech, allowing Drogba to head it on for Sturridge whose shot went across goal and wide - the home team's first attempt on goal after fifty one minutes.

Gareth Bale was starting to have greater influence on the game - he had a shot which went wide and then after a patient build up his run forward and across goal, released Walker whose powerful shot went just past.  Another Bale cross found Adebayor but he slipped as he went to shoot.  From a free-kick Gallas headed just over and then with ten minutes remaining Adebayor was put through by Modric, he rounded the goalkeeper but his shot was blocked by a defender.  From the corner, Bale's header hit the bar and Adebayor headed the rebound over.  Chelsea's response was limited but they did hit the post from a free-kick. 

As the game ended, Spurs finished much stronger with a series of free-kicks and corners increasing the pressure on Chelsea and in added time a Bale free-kick was saved by Cech for a corner.

Tottenham had nineteen attempts on goal with seven on target compared to Chelsea's ten and five on target.  Cech was the much busier goalkeeper being called on to make crucial saves while Friedel had quite a comfortable afternoon.

Tottenham are still seeking their first win against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge since 1990 but at least they took a point with a well organised display which is a bonus in light of recent performances and should boost their confidence for future games as they chase Arsenal for third place and automatic qualification for the Group stages of the Champions League.  If they defeat Bolton on Tuesday evening, Spurs will meet Chelsea at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-final tie in mid-April.


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