Tottenham Hotspur 1:1 Chelsea: Spotlight Match Review

On Sunday, a battle took place in London, as two league powerhouses played an intense match in front of a lively crowd at White Hart Lane. The match ended in a 1-1 draw, as Chelsea squandered a wonderful opportunity to go ahead in stoppage time.

Tottenham v Chelsea Starting Formation

Tottenham Hotspur began the match in the 4-4-2 formation. The most remarkable aspect of the starting eleven was that Spurs were down center backs, with Younas Kaboul and William Gallas both being out with injury. Michael Dawson and Sebastien Bassong started in front of goalkeeper Heurelio Gomes. Jermain Defoe and Roman Pavlyuchenko were strikers.

Carlo Ancelotti started Chelsea in his preferred 4-3-3 attacking form. Ancelotti started the game with Didier Drogba as a substitute, electing instead to have Nicolas Anelka lead the attacking charge. Florent Malouda and Salomon Kalou were the attacking midfielders on the wings. Drogba was one notable named substitute, as well as Frank Lampard who had not played in months.

Chelsea was very concerned with the speed and ability of Gareth Bale to advance down the left wing. Both right back Paulo Ferreira and Kalou had tightly marked Bale throughout the game. With the matchup of 4-3-3 versus 4-4-2, typically the three central midfielders (Essien, Mikel, and Ramires) would outnumber the two for Tottenham (Modric and Palacios). Surprisingly, Modric was effective in getting behind Essien and Ramires, and once he did, he found plenty of room to run up the pitch

The scoring opened at the fifteenth minute, as Defoe gathered an Assou-Ekotto pass to the left of the area. He beat Ferreira on a move towards the center, and then passed to Pavlyuchenko at the penalty spot. He touched the ball to his left, and with his left foot stroked the ball past a diving Petr Cech to give Tottenham the 1-0 lead.

Chelsea had several opportunities in the first half, but they were all under duress without much space to maneuver. The Blues had a difficult time getting the ball into dangerous positions. Tottenham was effective in closing down entry into the area, and when crosses were sent towards Anelka, the defenders were deft in clearing balls away from the area.

Ancelotti knew he had to make an adjustment to give his team more options in the scoring area. He brought on Drogba for Mikel, which brought the formation to a 4-4-2 to match Hotspur. This resulted in Chelsea carrying most of the play in the second half. In fact, throughout the game, Chelsea dominated the shots as well as those on goal; Tottenham managed only one shot on goal besides the Pavlyuchenko goal. In addition, Ferreira continued to actively pressure Bale. For a period, the wing midfielder moved to the right hand side of the pitch in order to get away from the heavy marking.

Start Of The Second Half

In the seventieth minute, a goal kick from Cech to Drogba was challenged by Dawson. Drogba was able to chest it on into the area, and he delivered a hard shot which ate up Gomes. He tried to catch the ball, but it deflected over his head, and bounded into the net to knot the score at one.

The second half progressed in a flurry. Both sides defended and countered off their opponent’s overcommitment.  Among the substitutions in the second half included Lampard, who entered for Malouda in the 78th minute. The end-to-end action was dizzying at times, and you thought that the free flow would result in a deciding goal. No one would have predicted the run of events that would lead to the result.

A ball into the box was chased by both Ramires and Gomes. The Chelsea midfielder arrived ahead of the keeper, and the resulting collision left the referee no choice but to award a penalty to Chelsea.  Drogba was charged to take the penalty kick. His shot was well-struck, but the placement was not good enough. Gomes guessed correctly and preserved the tie for Tottenham.

The match was well fought, but both teams will have felt as though they should have taken all three points. For Spurs, they had many opportunities to test Cech, but they could muster only two shots at net. Of course, when you couple this result with the comeback against Arsenal, Tottenham probably ended up for the better.

For Chelsea, failing to convert a penalty in stoppage time isn’t uncommon, but with the threats they have on their squad, it should have been automatic. In the end, one wonders why Drogba was left off the field from the start. It seems like a continuation of the lackluster six weeks that Chelsea has been experiencing. And as the announcers foreshadowed, the penalty could have stamped the end of this slump as they head towards their home showdown with Manchester United in a week. Instead, the deflating ending to the match provides even more doubt as to the supremacy of the Blues as they plod towards another monumental clash.

11 thoughts on “Tottenham Hotspur 1:1 Chelsea: Spotlight Match Review”

  1. Angelloti really is sticking with Ramires, as I for sure thought that Francis would come on for Ramires and NOT Malouda. Kalou should have been substituted, hell Sturidge looked better.

    1. I thought Ramires was beginning to look like he was “getting it” right about the time he got hurt. I don’t have a problem with him staying out there. Especially with Benayoun gone, Ramires needs to get good as soon as possible.

      Now, am I the only one who thinks Anelka is phoning it in? The only good play I’ve seen make in weeks was a goal that Drogba headed right on to his toe. He looks like he’s taking up space out there, and I kept hoping Carlo would give him the hook. As much as I yelled at my TV, Ancelotti wouldn’t go for it, though…

  2. While tactically your spot on, I don’t necessarily agree with the comment that this is a “continuation of the lackluster six weeks”. Granted our first half performance was sub-par, but the spirit and determination showed in the 2nd was the best we’ve played in months. The growing sentiment amongst Chels supporters is that we’ve rounded the corner and while we didn’t seize 3 pts, we still left WHL with a growing belief that “we’re back”.

    1. Completely agree. The first half was slow and Nico didn’t do what he needed to at times, but boy, the second half cheered my up immensely. We played with a hunger and determination that has been lacking in the past couple months (see: Second half of Everton last weekend). The passing and pressure was consistent through the second half and the second that Frankie Lamps came on, there seemed to be a sense of stability in our midfield. Sure, THFC had a few breaks towards the end of the match, but the hunger is there and I look forward to MU next weekend.

    2. Yeah, that was definitely an opinion more than fact. Obviously the next few weeks will be the ultimate sign whether the lull has concluded and they’re getting back to form. They definitely had the better 2nd half.

    1. With VdV out, Carlo was mostly worried about Bale, apparently, and was able to shut him down pretty effectively. In fact, I’d say he put on a friggin’ clinic. Spurs better hope future opponents can’t execute the way the Blues did.

  3. Question: on the goal by Spurs, Pavlyuchenko beat Mikel to score the goal. He beat him badly. Chelsea sent either Ivanovic or Terry up to attack during the first half of the game. During the time Ivanovic was forward. Why were they doing that rather than send Cole up the left side?

    1. I think this was a result of the fact that Ferreira was heavily marking Bale. Because Bale was getting met by Ferreira only a few yards past the center line, Ivanovic was left to mark Defoe into the zone the right back usually occupies. So Mikel had pushed back to cover the area vacated by Ivanovic.

      This may have played a role in Cole being less active in the offensive end. And as far as Terry’s couple of runs are concerned, I kinda got the impression he took the liberty on his own, based on the circumstance.

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