FA Cup review: Tottenham Hotspur 1 – 2 Chelsea

Match reports

The Guardian, Kevin McCarra: “If the first meeting had been enthrallingly spectacular, the replay of this FA Cup quarter-final intrigued with its element of surprise. No one could have anticipated the finish with which Andriy Shevchenko opened the scoring or the volley from Shaun Wright-Phillips that doubled Chelsea’s lead.”

The Times, Matt Dickinson: “Even the misfits are firing now. And, as Chelsea step up their chase for an unprecedented quadruple of trophies, that is an ominous sign for all who hope to stop José Mourinho’s blue machine.”

Daily Telegraph, Henry Winter: “Two thunderbolts from the Blue swept Chelsea past Tottenham Hotspur, moving them to within 90 minutes of the FA Cup final to be staged along the North Circular Road at the rebuilt Wembley. Last night’s goals from Andrei Shevchenko and Shaun Wright-Phillips were good enough to have graced any final.”

The Independent, Sam Wallace: “They left the pitch like a gang of bare-knuckle fighters, stripped down to the waist and ready for a scrap ­ and when the final whistle went Chelsea got one. But the Tottenham fan who tried to attack Frank Lampard encountered the same fate as so many who take on Jose Mourinho’s team: overwhelming odds and swift retribution.”

The goals/highlights

(Alternative highlights video)

The good

  1. John Terry. What a player. You wouldn’t think he’d been through so much in the way of serious injuries recently. You can’t put a price on what he brings to the team, both as a player and captain. The hug he gave Andriy Shevchenko at the end said it all. Regardless of what’s going on off the pitch, the team spirit appears to be as good as ever on it. And it’s all down to Jose Mourinho.
  2. Shevchenko and Didier Drogba. A great centre-forward pairing when both are in form. Drogba’s been brilliant all season but it’s taken a while for Shevchenko to find his feet. It was worth the wait. He was superb. A breathtaking goal against Spurs is worth £30m any day of the week. And where do you start with Drogba? The guy is a machine, in attack, midfield and defence he was awesome. Not only is he one of the world’s best strikers, but also an extra man at the back.
  3. John Obi Mikel. What a future this player has. He didn’t put a foot wrong, disciplined, great passing, brilliant in defence… he’s got the lot. He makes Michael Ballack look ordinary.
  4. Lassana Diarra. Mourinho didn’t play Paulo Ferreira at right-back as I feared he might. Instead he opted for Diarra and he wasn’t let down. I think it’s become clear that the diminutive Frenchman is our best right-back at this present time. His appearances in the Claude Makelele role in recent games haven’t always gone well, but at right-back he’s a revelation. He was wrongly yellow-carded early on but that didn’t stop him effectively marshalling Aaron Lennon out of the remainder of the game. In with a shout for Man of the Match.
  5. And a special mention for Shaun Wright-Phillips. A great goal topped what was a composed if occasionally erratic performance. He seems to be coming of age in a Chelsea shirt. At last.
  6. The travelling Chelsea fans. All 4,500 of them. It was good to see the players, manager and staff celebrate with them at the end. It would have been fantastic to have been there. The celebrations were only slightly marred by a moronic Spurs fan who couldn’t stomach witnessing Chelsea re-establish their superiority. Hopefully it will be another 20 years before Spurs beat us at White Hart Lane again.

The bad

  1. The Frank Lampard/Michael Ballack pairing still hasn’t clicked. Neither player was bad, in fact after a poor first half Ballack looked pretty good, although Lampard just about shaded it for me, but as a duo something is not quite right. Things are bound to improve eventually, I don’t see this becoming another Steven Gerrard/Frank Lampard conundrum simply because Ballack and Lampard will have a great deal more opportunities to adapt to one another’s play.
  2. It’s a shame we found ourselves hanging on a bit at the end. It probably looked worse than it actually was, Spurs offered very little in the way of penetration and goal threat after Robbie Keane had scored from the penalty spot (Ricardo Carvalho’s tackle on Dimitar Berbatov was inches from being perfect). For the sake of my health, it would have been much better if we’d managed to keep a clean sheet.

Man of the Match

I’m going to give it to Andriy Shevchenko, not just for his outstanding goal, but for his all round performance. As most of us suspected, it was just a matter of time before we saw the AC Milan era Shevchenko. Next season promises a great deal.

Final thoughts

Only Blackburn Rovers and Watford stand in the way of the ‘dream’ final between Chelsea and Manchester United the FA so desperately wants at the new Wembley stadium. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that we could fight United for three trophies this season – the Premiership, FA Cup final, and Champions League final. There’s a long way to go, but I wouldn’t bet against it.

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