Looking Forward



Worthington Cup Semi-Final 1st Leg

Wednesday 9th January 2002 

What do you think the powers that be made of the last four clubs left in the Worthington Cup ??  Any chance of Spurs and Chelsea ending up at Cardiff ??  Nah, of course not !!  So we travel across London for the first leg and it is not a happy hunting ground for Tottenham.  But then neither is White Hart Lane over the last 12 years when Chelsea come to play.

So what can we expect of Chelsea ?  Having been robbed by a last minute goal and a dodgy penalty at home in the League, there is a lot depending on which Chelsea decide to turn up.  Will it be the one that beat Liverpool at home and Man U away or will it be the one that drew at Norwich City and lost 2-4 at home to SCBC ?  As inconsistent as our own side, the Blues look like they have trouble getting a regular side out as Ranieri changes his personnel with frightening frequency.  They probably have to be re-introduced to each other before each game !!

In the goalkeeping department, they have three keepers who have played for the side this season.  First choice Carlo Cudicini is a good stopper, but as is the case with Italian keepers, makes the easy look difficult and is prone to sloppy mistakes.  Similarly, Dutchman Ed de Goey, is a good shot-stopper, but for a man of his height, he is rubbish on crosses.  He is likely to be on the bench, as Mark Bosnich is not yet fully fit for this match.  The Aussie, who is not at all popular at the Lane, has not had much chance to feature in the first team at Stamford Bridge since his move there from Manchester United.  When he has played, he has failed to justify his self-belief that he should be picked ahead of the others.

With narky little Graeme Le Saux suspended for the first leg, Chelsea will have to find someone to fill in for him.  It could be Albert Ferrer, the former Barcelona defender, but he has not been in the manager's plans so far this season, although has been on the bench recently.  More likely to play in the back line are Dutchman Mario Melchiot, John Terry, William Gallas and Celestine Babayaro.  Melchoit and Babayaro like to get forward and are athletic enough to get back should moves break down, while Gallas and Terry are more traditional defenders who stay back to guard their own goal.  Terry will be in court on the morning of the tie, so whether he plays or, if he does, is in top form, remains to be seen.  If Ranieri decides he will not be in the right frame of mind, Marcel Desailly might come in to play in the middle of defence.  The giant Frenchman has not been fit and in favour, so could be a bit rusty if he is drafted in.

Frank Lampard has been inconsistent since his summer move from West Ham United and although he has grabbed a couple of goals, he has not sparked the Chelsea midfield like many thought he would.  Another who has failed to make the impact imagined is Mario Stanic, a Croatian international brought in from Parma, but sporadically used in the side.  Slavisa Jokanovic is another who was brought in, but nobody knows what for.  He has little pace and seems to add little to Chelsea's play, so let's hope he is in the team !! 

Former Atalanta midfielder Samuele Dalla Bona is not long for Chelsea's squad as he is constantly linked with a move back to Italy, much like Gianfranco Zola, who is heading back home after this season to retire in his native land.  Both can open defences with their skills.  Dalla Bona with his running off the ball; Zola with his perceptive passing.  Other options are limited as Gronkjaer and Morris out injured, while Petit could return, but will be without match practice.  He could make a dominating presence in midfield, but so far, his performances for the Pensioners have not been as they were for his former London club.

One player who arrived with great hopes was Boudewijn Zenden, but the manager said recently that he is yet to get to full fitness ... and we are now in January.  On his day, he can be unstoppable as he has pace and power, but like others in the side, he has not been at his peak so far.  He would be an ideal supplier for Hasselbaink, but the two have rarely been on the same wavelength when they have played together.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is a rare commodity in the game these days and that is why he has commanded such high transfer fees over the last four years.  A player who can score from anywhere, he regretfully has a trait to get involved with opponents when he doesn't have to.  He need not be in that position, as he should be concentrating on his goalscoring, but that appears not to be enough for him.  The Icelander Eidur Gudjohnsen is a classy finisher and his run in the side recently has shown that he can be a potent scorer in the Premiership.  He has the ability to run with the ball and also make intelligent runs off the ball to make space to receive the ball.  If that wasn't enough, Mikael Forssell is in the wings, awaiting his chance.  He did well for Crystal Palace last season, but is yet to break into the Chelsea side on a regular basis.

So what of the match in question ?  Being the first leg, Chelsea will want to push forward to get a lead to take to Tottenham.  As for Spurs, their first half form has been good, but have been left hanging on in the dying minutes in the last couple of games, so, taking a realistic view, the home side will probably pressurise and end up with ... 

PREDICTION : -  Chelsea  1   Tottenham  0

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.



Chelsea  2  Tottenham   1                                (Half time score: 1-0)
Wednesday 9th January 2002
Kick Off :   8.05 p.m.
Weather : -  Cold, dry.
Crowd : -   37,264
Referee : -   Mr. A. Wiley (Burntwood)

Scorers : -   Chelsea  -   Hasselbaink 10, 77
                  Tottenham  -  Ferdinand 65


Chelsea :   None

Tottenham :  Anderton (dissent) 78


Chelsea : Cudicini; Melchiot, Terry, Desailly, Babyaro; Morris (Ferrer 46), Lampard, Zola (Jokanovic 65), Dalla Bona: Gudjohnsson (Forssell 73), Hasselbaink.
Unused Subs : De Goey, Keenan, 

Spurs :  Keller; Perry, King, Gardner; Ziege, Freund (Sherwood 29), Anderton, Poyet, Taricco; Davies; Ferdinand (Rebrov 88)
Unused Subs : Sullivan, Thelwell, Etherington


Chelsea :  Blue shirts, blue shorts, white socks

Spurs :  White shirts, Navy shorts, navy socks.

With ten minutes gone, it looked like the same old story, as Chelsea took the lead and Hasselbaink was the scorer.  Luckily, the result might have been the same, but the overall feeling was a bit different.

Surely, their luck with dodgy decisions has to turn against them and even though Keller was fortunate not to give away a penalty near the end (and maybe avoid getting sent off), there were enough gripes with Chelsea getting the lion's share of the benefit from the ref's whistle and especially the free-kick that sealed their win.

Until then, it looked as though Tottenham had a draw to take back to the Lane, with the ball being played towards the Chelsea goal.  But one break and a rasping shot from the Dutchman's boot and it was 1-2 and it remains to see how Spurs will cope with having to beat the Blues for the first time in 27 games to go through to the Final in Cardiff.  One goal will do it, but then we have to stop the prolific (against us) Hasselbaink from scoring at all.

Without ever threatening Cudicini directly, the Spurs side built up well, but lacked someone on the end of their crosses, with Les playing on his own at the top of the team, he couldn't play the ball off and get into the danger areas too.  A partner would have helped, but Hoddle's plan to pack the midfield nearly worked, despite Sherwood having to replace the knee injury victim Freund.  Tim finally showed what he was brought to Tottenham to do.  To keep the ball moving and to get stuck in.  He even managed to provide the opportunity for Les to score, just minutes after Ferdinand had missed the chance to go around the Italian keeper to equalise.  Playing the ball too near Cudicini was disastrous and the chance was gone.  However, Les did well to get the ball under Cudicini when he did score.  Apart from that, there were a couple of saves by both keeper's with their legs and Keller managed to push away a free-kick without a great deal of grace.

Much was made prior to the match of the return of Gus Poyet and how he had not wanted to leave.  Despite being idolised by the Chelsea cognoscenti, they booed him every time he touched the ball and he was on the edge of everything that went on without taking too active a part in proceedings.  Hopefully, he will feel more at home at White Hart Lane now.

The away goal might prove vital in the result, but there are many issues for Glenn to dwell on over the next two weeks.  Perhaps the return of Teddy Sheringham will be the spark that sees Spurs beat the hoodoo.  Something needs to happen to take Spurs to the final and to put one over on the West London branch of United Nations.  But, hey, stranger things have happened !!


Laurie Load




2-1 down at half-time in the Worthington Cup semi-final.  Just the dodgy Chelsea penalty and a last minute winner from them to come then !!

Already the bad decisions have seemed to even themselves out in this one match.  Mr. Wiley had a mare.  Not only awarding a free-kick against Ledley King for handball from which Hasselbaink hit the winning goal with such power, I don't think any keeper would have reached it, but also the ridiculous whistle he blew to give Spurs a free kick in the centre circle.  It resulted from a challenge by Gardner who brought down Sherwood and so amazed was the Spurs midfielder, that he grinned all over his face and waved an imaginary card in the air, indicating to the ref that the young Tottenham defender should have been booked.

The official kept his standard up to the very end, when Keller brought down Forssell in the box as he tried to go around him and the ref chose not to blow up on this occasion.

In truth, Tottenham were lucky to get away with a 1-2 scoreline.  Starting with Les leading the line of one, they packed the midfield and it was only really when Freund went off with a knee injury, that the system changed.  Sherwood shocked me with a sterling display that evoked memories of him at his best; competitive, determined and passing the ball to Spurs players to keep moves going.  Suddenly Tottenham made forward moves and got in behind the Chelsea defence.  Unfortunately, there was the small matter of a goal by Hasselbaink after 10 minutes and the chances that crosses that went across the goal without a Spurs shirt to put them in that had gone begging already.

Both Davies and Ziege were getting joy along the flanks and Simon's shot from wide was saved by Cudicini's legs, as was a similar effort by Les early on.  Ziege was putting in some decent low crosses, but as the game went on, his crosses and corners failed to get over the first Chelsea defender and were wasted.  However, the goal Spurs conceded was a poor one.  The Dutch striker dummied the ball and let it run to Gudjohnsson.  He passed it into the area around the D on the edge of the box, where Hasselbaink had run, untracked and played onside by Gardner, to slide it over Keller as he came out.  The Spurs keeper had to be on his toes to stop a free-kick from the same player, but shovelled it out rather unconvincingly.

Spurs had not looked that dangerous going forward, but continued to push on, with little hope with Les outnumbered four to one most of the time.

Half-time came to give the managers time to rearrange their tactics and Chelsea reinforced the midfield with another man to stop Spurs getting so much of the ball.  In turn, Spurs changed their style of play to give as much of the ball as they could to Chelsea.  The lack of ability to hold onto the ball was sad to see from a side who can pass so well.  Luckily, Chelsea did not create much with it.  Keller did have to make a save from Forssell with his legs, but the ball fell into the six-yard box and Perry kicked clear.  The American goalie did slip up when the Finnish striker ran onto a through ball and went around Keller, but he brought him down by grabbing a foot and the ref ignored his claim for a spot-kick.

In between the two home goals, Spurs did start pushing towards the Chelsea goal and a through ball found Les running through from the half-way line and whether he thought he was offside or whether he thought he was going to get caught by a defender, but he was clumsy going around Cudicini and the Italian grabbed the ball off his toe.  However, two minutes later, Ferdinand latched onto a Sherwood pass into the box and got there just before Cudicini, poking the ball under him to equalise.  There were precious few more clear cut chances for Tottenham, so the benefit of an away goal is priceless.  This is not to say that Spurs will beat Chelsea in the second leg, but the tie is till alive and 1-0 will be enough, even though it will entail a spell of extra time to get the away goal to count !!  

With most of the side producing sound enough games, only the infrequently involved Anderton and the peripheral probings of Poyet were less than their usual selves.  The team need to tighten up and take the game to Chelsea, without throwing caution to the wind in the second leg.  You have the feeling that the player who could make a lot of difference in the second leg is the same who got two in the first leg.

Peter Parker

Back to homepage