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[Highlights & Ratings] Spurs 1-1 Chelsea: Spoils shared in game of heroes and villains

Chelsea squandered a golden opportunity to return to the top of the Premier League as Didier Drogba missed a last minute penalty with the scores level at 1-1.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side found themselves 1-0 down with just eight minutes played at White Hart Lane when Roman Pavlyuchenko was allowed too much space to get a shot away.  The visitors from West London rallied however in the second half and equalised through a moment of good fortune as Spurs ‘keeper Heurelho Gomes spilled Drogba’s powerful effort into his own goal.  Chelsea were then gifted the chance to win the game when Gomes’ night got even worse- the Brazilian bringing down countryman Ramires, only to save the penalty and earn his side a point.

The draw means Chelsea have failed to win a domestic league game since the sacking of assistant Ray Wilkins- an entire month ago.  Ancelotti gambled on leaving Drogba on the bench for this fiercely contested fixture, installing faith in Nicolas Anelka and Salomon Kalou.  It was a move that looked to have been proven disastrous as the home team pressed for an early goal.

Luka Modric will take the plaudits for demonstrating the inventiveness to put Wilson Palacios on a surging forward run.  Unfortunately for the expectant home fans, the Honduran did not have the same awareness or execution of that of the little Croatian to keep the move flowing and Chelsea broke up the attack.

But they would not have to wait much longer to see the deadlock broken.  Jermaine Defoe, latching on to a long ball, cut inside from the left and fired a heavy pass into Pavlyuchenko’s feet.  The Russian’s touch took him away from the attentions of John Terry and before anyone else could get near him, finished coolly with his left foot from just inside the area.

Whilst the finish was classy (everything we’ve come to expect from Spurs’ number 9) the defending left much to be desired.  Terry seemed happy to allow the striker to move away from him and John Obi Mikel was slack in his closing down.  It was typical of the type of goals Chelsea have been conceding of late: sloppy and immature.  Chelsea’s ageing team should know better than to allow their opponent to turn in the area with a sight of goal and this kind of error had ‘schoolboy’ written all over it.

But it did not deter the visitors and they came close to equalising on no more than three occasions before the break- Kalou putting himself in the right positions without the accuracy to find the net.  The first chance came after some fine individual play from Ramires on the right, who enjoyed one his best games in a Chelsea shirt.  His telling cross was met by the sliding Ivorian but his toe-poke effort went over from inside the 6-yard box.

Anelka then crossed from the opposite side, and his delicate chip was again met by Kalou.  The header was on target but did not have the urgency to beat the ‘keeper- perhaps another Ivorian striker would have had enough power to find the net?  Kalou again had a chance to level just before the break.  Malouda crossed this time and Kalou’s headed effort bounced tamely wide of the goal.

Ancelotti had seen enough and knowing that if they were to keep getting these chances, they would have a far better chance of converting one of them with their top scorer on the field.  Drogba replaced midfielder Mikel and like summer follows spring, Chelsea’s chances fell.  Drogba flashed a warning shot at Gomes from long range after strike partner Anelka teed him up.  Gomes again was on red alert soon after when a Palacios header almost found his own goal.

But Gomes who had so far done well to repel Chelsea’s advances, was about to undo Spurs’ hard work in a moment reminiscent of his early days at the Lane.  A long punt from Petr Cech was taken down by Drogba who did well to hold off the close attentions of a returning Michael Dawson and with the first sight of goal struck powerfully with his left foot.  Despite the shot coming straight at the Brazilian, Gomes tamely flapped at the effort and could only watch as a stunned Lane saw the ball trickle into the net.

Spurs, who had played well all game and had chances of their own, sought to reclaim the lead in spite of their misfortune.  Aaron Lennon found space to shoot from distance but his effort was dragged wide. Gomes then found to his and his team mates dismay that lightning does in fact strike twice.  The groans intensified further as Ramires was brought down by the stopper, however those same groans were transformed into a collective bellow of delight, as the villain Gomes redeemed himself, saving Drogba’s 12-yard kick.

In an instant, the moans set aside for Spurs fans leaving the stadium were diffused into the away end, and the Blue support made their way back to West London shaking their heads.  It was a fitting end to one of the season’s most exciting fixtures so far.  Both teams sought to win the game in what the respective managers clearly thought of as must wins.  A fair result, most will agree, but both sides will go away thinking ‘what could have been’.  For Chelsea, the fixtures only get more difficult with Arsenal and Man Utd on their way.  But this was a much improved performance compared to those of recent weeks, and on this basis that first win in four weeks will come around sooner rather than later.

Player Ratings

Chelsea: Cech 6, Cole 6, Terry 7, Ivanovich 6, Ferreira 5, Essien 8, Ramires 7, Mikel 5,(Drogba 7) Malouda 6,(Lampard 6) Kalou 7,(Sturridge 6) Anelka 7

Tottenham: Gomes 7, Hutton 6, Bassong 6, Dawson 6, Bale 7, Assou-Ekotto 5, Lennon 6, Palacios 7 (Sandro 5), Modric 8, Pavlyuchenko 8 (Keane 5), Defoe 7 (Crouch 6)

Watch highlights of Tottenham 1-1 Chelsea

What did you make of this thrilling London derby?…What kind of advert was it for the Premier League?…Are Chelsea any closer to winning a Premier League game!!??…please leave your comments below…

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