Tottenham’s top four ambitions suffered a big blow on Wednesday evening when they drew 2-2 against Chelsea, in what must’ve been a very entertaining match for the neutral.
Spurs started the game brightly but fell behind to a 10th minute header from Oscar, who reacted very quickly to nod home Gary Cahill’s glancing header from a Juan Mata corner, though Michael Dawson was poorly positioned and lost his marker. Spurs levelled things on twenty six minute through the very impressive Emmanuel Adebayor, who picked up the ball in his own half and ran at Chelsea’s defenders before bending a sumptuous effort into the top right hand corner. A lot must be said of the supporting run made by Aaron Lennon, which drew the attention of a couple of the Chelsea defenders and allowed Adebayor the space he needed to draw Tottenham level.
Chelsea regained the lead on thirty nine minutes through another of their Brazilian contingent, Ramires. Good work from Fernando Torres on the right flank created a gap between Jan Vertonghen and Michal Dawson in the Tottenham defence, which Ramires exploited by running onto the Spaniards through ball and dinking it over the advancing Hugo Lloris and into the Spurs net.
Chelsea started brightly again in the second half and had Ramires not lost his footing at the vital moment, Chelsea would’ve been 3-1 ahead and the game would have effectively been over. The hosts missed further chances through Fernando Torres, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard before Gylfi Sigurđsson drew Tottenham level for a second time in the 80th minute. Spurs’ second was a very well worked goal. Benoȋt Assou-Ekotto fed the ball to Adebayor in the area and his back-heel found the Icelandic international who curled the ball around Petr Čech and into the Chelsea net.
The final ten minutes of the game were quite frantic as both sides went looking for the goal that would surely secure all three points. The best chance of the final ten minutes was a free-kick awarded to Spurs in the 90th minute, which was just outside the Chelsea box. Following a lot of hype from the television commentators, Gareth Bale stepped up and…. Curled the ball straight into the arms of Petr Čech. The game finished 2-2 and Spurs left the field with the knowledge that their Champions league destiny was no longer in their own hands.
In an interview following the game Tottenham head coach André Villas-Boas asked fans to keep the faith, which they should. Although Spurs sit fifth in the table they can still mathematically finish third. It’s a big ask, lets be honest, but they have to give it their best shot. There are two matches remaining, away to Stoke and home to Sunderland. Tottenham need to do their bit and take maximum points from these two games. Who knows for sure that both Arsenal and Chelsea will take maximum points from their remaining fixtures? I know I’m being extremely optimistic, as I always am when it comes to my beloved Spurs, but I should be optimistic, as should every Spurs fan. There is still something to play for, a prize that could take us to the next level and turn us into genuine title contenders.
Next up for Spurs is a tricky trip to the Britannia Stadium to take on a Stoke City side that are undefeated in their last three outings. The Potters will provide a very stern test for Tottenham with their robust style of football. You can expect Stoke to put Spurs under pressure from the off with their direct style of football, although they do also have some players that can play.
In Asmir Begović, Stoke have one of the Premier leagues most sought after goalkeepers. Stoke play with a flat back four which usually consists of Ryan Shotton, Robert Huth, captain Ryan Shawcross and Marc Wilson. The defence are protected by central midfielders Steven N’Zonzi and Dean Whitehead. The midfield is completed by the creative Charlie Adam and energetic Jonathan Walters. The front two will usually comprise of two from Peter Crouch, Cameron Jerome and Kenwyne Jones.
It will be interesting to see how André Villas-Boas approaches this game. I will be particularly intrigued to see where he plays Gareth Bale. I was impressed with the 4-2-3-1 formation ‘AVB’ employed against Chelsea and wouldn’t be against seeing the same starting eleven on Sunday, especially if we’re guaranteed another decent shift from Adebayor. I would like to see Spurs move the ball around at pace against Stoke and get the ball out to Bale and Lennon at every opportunity to really stretch the home side. If Tom Huddlestone starts I’d like to see him making forward runs to support Adebayor in the box, with Lewis Holtby pulling back to ensure Tottenham keep their shape. If things aren’t going their way, André Villa-Boas can always call on the services of Jermain Defoe, Clint Dempsey or Gylfi Sigurđsson.
Sunday represents a game for Spurs which is quite honestly win or bust!
COME ON YOU SPURS!!