Premiership review: Chelsea 1 – 0 Tottenham Hotspur

Match reports

The Observer, Amy Lawrence: “Chelsea’s ruthless pursuit of Manchester United continued here, which is not surprising considering the hard facts: their winning sequence in the Premiership since they last conceded any ground (or even a goal for that matter ) – two-and-a-half months ago at Anfield – is daunting for any opponent.”

Sunday Telegraph, Patrick Barclay: “”Sometimes we are guilty,” said Mourinho of [Ricardo Carvalho], whom he brought with him from Porto in 2004 at a cost of nearly £20 million, “of always talking about the same players. But Ricardo has been a pillar for us this season. More than a pillar.” Indeed. As well as defending with class and a courage exemplified by block tackles and kneeling headers, Carvalho has been an important creative influence, notably during the run of eight consecutive Premiership wins, all without the concession of a goal, that have prevented Manchester United from breaking completely clear of the club whose title they seem certain eventually to retrieve.”

Independent on Sunday, Nick Townsend: “Other than a somewhat nervous final 10 minutes, Ricardo Carvalho’s 52nd-minute strike always appeared liable to yield the hosts the victory they required to maintain their pursuit of Ferguson’s side. It was a triumph that acquired even greater significance with United’s subsequent defeat by Pompey reducing the deficit to three points.”

Sunday Times, Joe Lovejoy: “For those of a statistical bent, Chelsea are now unbeaten in their last 60 Premiership matches at home and are fast approaching the record, which is 63, set by Liverpool between 1978 and 1981. Petr Cech has kept eight successive clean sheets in the league, and Chelsea have won all eight games, which supports the theory that, but for the injury that kept the world’s best goalkeeper out of action for so long, the table could have a very different look.”

Mail on Sunday, Patrick Collins: “Spurs fans informed Mourinho that he would be “Sacked In The Summer”, while the Chelsea fans trilled tributes to the Seville police for their energetic engagement with the Spurs followers.”

The good

  1. The result. Oh yeah I hear you cry, you’ve suddenly become the master of the bleeding obvious! But I really do mean it. This is the start of a very big week for Chelsea, and me and the gang of people (none of us knows each others’ names) who meet up by the entrance to Block 12 of the Matthew Harding Lower had a good conversation about how by next Sunday evening we could be singing “Our Season’s Over” if we were to lose all three games. One down, two to go. Oh, and it was sweet revenge for the defeat at White Hart Lane.
  2. Joe Cole. Fifteen minutes at the end to help him back to match fitness, an uproarious welcome from the crowd, some flashes of genius, some step overs to show that Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t the only one and a booking taken for the team in the dying minutes show just how badly we’ve missed him.
  3. John Obi Mikel. This boy is class, pure class. It must scare the crap out of other teams to think what he’ll be like when he’s matured. He did not make a single error today; his passing was excellent, his tackling clean and clinical and his support work for team-mates in front and behind him was simply unselfish and world class.
  4. The atmosphere. Stamford Bridge was buzzing today and the perfect weather set the tone for some… ahem… interesting banter between the sets of fans. Having said that the Spurs fans then became very quiet from 10 minutes onwards. Which was odd in a game with such pride resting on the result.
  5. Ricardo Carvalho’s goal. You know if it wasn’t for Didier Drogba’s goals and Petr Cech’s saves then Riccy would be a very close contender for Player of the Year at Chelsea. Every now and then he does something amazing and this goal was truly it. Thirty-five yards out, low and hard. It stunned the crowd, both Chelsea and Spurs, both sets of players, no doubt the Sky commentator and frankly, even Riccy himself. The boy done good.
  6. She was back today, the Latin lovely two rows back. I’m guessing she shares the ticket as she seems to be there for alternate games. When we scored I leapt so high that my sunglasses flew off my head and landed at her feet. Oh, sweet coincidence I thought, she must notice me! The moment seemed to good to be true, the air seemed scented with perfume and for a moment I thought we would be showered with rose petals falling to the sound of the beautiful strings of classical music, embracing in the mutual pleasure of unbridled lust and desire fuelled by Riccy’s wonder goal. Bang! That was the sound of the fantasy bubble bursting as her large, unsmiling, hairy boyfriend/husband picked them up and glowered as he said one word, “Yours?”. In true bloke style I just glared and said, “Yeah!”. Brave huh?

The bad

  1. Frank Lampard. The man needs a rest. He made a lot of unforced errors today and never has one player looked more needy of a break than our Frank. I’ll say it again, the England criticism he gets is having an effect. Quit the England team, Frank, let Jose Mourinho rest you for one game and recharge your batteries. I want the old Frank back and soon.
  2. The linesman running the East Stand side. Piss-poor decisions all afternoon and several offsides from Spurs were missed. Absolutely no help to the referee, and one decision against Drogba in the first half where he called an offside was laughable.
  3. Another controversial one here. Claude Makelele. I’m not saying he was the worst as that honour is Frank’s again. However if he slipped once he slipped a dozen times, his distribution was poor and his tackling was hit and miss at best. If I was him I would swallow my pride and accept the one-year addition to the contract and be prepared to play less and act as the mentor to Obi Mikel, Lassana Diarra or Michael Essien as they step into the Makalele role (praise indeed that the role is named after him). It’s a season too far, but if he played less he would still be very useful to us.
  4. Spurs. As detestable as they are, they seemed to lack any cohesion today. Mido was hopeless and will surely be on his way. Jermain Defoe looked leggy as did most of the team. Pascal Chimbonda was tortured by the returning Wayne Bridge. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they were crap today, but there seems little doubt that playing just 39 hours after their game in Spain affected their performance.
  5. Another 1-0. How many this season when we should have had more goals? Come on boys, let’s give someone a real pasting at the Bridge. Say… Manchester United?

Player ratings

  • Petr Cech: Pulled off some good saves from Spurs’ two free headers and a deflected shot. Got a right earful from John Terry in the second half – 8/10
  • Paulo Ferreira: A steady performance but was obviously picked because Aaron Lennon was not playing today – 7/10
  • Ricardo Carvalho: A close call for Man of the Match. Imperious and smacked in a true wonder goal – 8.5/10
  • Wayne Bridge: A great return marred only by one small row with Cech. I think Cech was right, but Bridgey is still the better choice at left-back in my view – 8.5/10
  • John Terry: Unshakeable, shouted a lot, solid as a rock – 8/10
  • Frank Lampard: I so want the old Frank back. This one is an impostor – 3/10
  • John Obi Mikel: Sheer absolute class. A faultless display – 9/10
  • Didier Drogba: The big Ivorian had a quieter game today but had one chance saved brilliantly by Paul Robinson – 7/10
  • Salomon Kalou: Missed three sitters today. If he’d had his eye in we would have won 4-0. Marked down for that – 7/10
  • Shaun Wright-Phillips: Is there a chance here? His best game for us to date – 7.5/10
  • Claude Makelele: I know this will cause a stir but really I don’t think we need him as much these days – 4/10
  • Joe Cole (sub): Got 15 minutes – showed some great deft touches and took a booking for the team in the dying minutes to stop a Spurs surge – 6/10
  • Michael Ballack (sub): Rubbish. Got booked for a daft tackle when the Spurs player was going nowhere – 5/10
  • Andriy Shevchenko (sub): Didn’t really have long enough to make a difference – 6/10

Man of the Match

John Obi Mikel, or whatever order his name should be in, take a bow and collect your bouquet. You look like you’ve played the game at this level for years and why the press aren’t creaming their collective pants over you is a mystery to me. He showed great composure, great passing, great support, and great ability in the air and a real rock in midfield. The boy has everything. Pure gold as a rather famous Portuguese manager described him before signing him to our club!

Final thoughts

What can I say? Normal service is resumed might be very apt. We lost our great record against Spurs earlier this season when we were arguably the better team but this was sweet revenge for that, despite our mauling them in the FA Cup replay. There are certain teams over whom victory tastes all the sweeter and Spurs are definitely one of them.

I write this on the back of a phone call telling me that Pompey have beaten Manchester United. Well, maybe there is something in all the lunar/moon gobbledygook written in the comments pages of the Watford review. Is it a wobble? I hope so, but I still think Alex Ferguson’s experience will guide them home. But if we do win the League I will gladly hold up my hands as a doubter and say that I was wrong and then claim that I never, ever thought we would lose the League. That’s the beauty of being a true fan. My hypocrisy knows no bounds. Well done Pompey. Now let’s see who blinks first.

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