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West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
24 March 2012
• Stamford Bridge, London
Referee: M. Atkinson
• Attendance: 41830
FULL-TIME: CHELSEA 0-0 TOTTENHAM. And that is that. This was hardly a classic but Spurs probably shaded it and deserve to maintain their five-point gap on the Blues in the race for fourth. Thank you for joining Goal.com today.
90' + 4'
One final set-piece as Spurs are finishing the stronger of the two - Gareth Bale forces a save from Peter Cech! It's swerving and dipping into the bottom-right corner of the net and the Chelsea keeper reacts smartly to save a point!
90' + 3'
Bale, who really hasn't imposed himself on the game, has a chance to deliver from a free kick on the right, but Chelsea head it away. Drifting to a draw now.
90' + 2'
A corner now for Tottenham as they look to sneak a win, but Luka Modric's effort isn't spectacular and Gareth Bale can do little other than knock it out.
90' + 1'
Four minutes to go, and Ashley Cole is livid when he's not given a free kick. He thinks Scott Parker pushed him over near the corner flag, but it would have been quite harsh.
Juan Mata tries a cross from very deep into the box but it's no trouble for Brad Friedel. Chelsea look out of ideas as Didier Drogba leads another attack before lifting an aimless cross over.
Louis Saha battles up front but Chelsea are able to sneak the ball away from him ... it doesn't stay with the hosts for long, though, and Tottenham have it back with Luka Modric, who lumps a wayward shot out of play. Salomon Kalou replaces Daniel Sturridge in a last throw of the dice for Roberto Di Matteo.
Daniel Sturridge's heavy pass does Fernando Torres no favours, forcing him too far wide of what would have been a good forward position, but the Spaniard fights back to keep Chelsea in possession. It comes to Frank Lampard some way out and the midfielder smacks his shot fiercely towards goal - Brad Friedel is there, though.
Emmanuel Adebayor is clearly convinced that Tottenham can win and he fights past two players before laying it off for Jake Livermore just outside the box. The midfielder seeks out Kyle Walker on the right whose attempted shot doesn't quite come off and Adebayor can't quite reach the deflection.
Chelsea try to find a way through in the midfield but have suddenly found themselves on the back foot. They need to really push hard if they are to find the late result that they really need.
Tottenham are coming so close! Gareth Bale hits the bar with a great header before Emmanuel Adebayor is again in the mix, but his nodded effort drops onto the top of the net. The visitors are pushing so hard now.
Oh my! Emmanuel Adebayor is onside past the defence - he skips past Petr Cech - moving right he aims the ball into the open goal, but Gary Cahill gets back from the offside trap to clear! Magnificent defending - where was the killer instinct from Adebayor?
Chelsea come up the other end and Didier Drogba has a sight of goal in the box but his shot is very weak and Brad Friedel collects it.
WILLIAM GALLAS MISSES A GREAT CHANCE! When the free kick is taken, it's delivered delightfully onto the penalty spot where the Frenchman waits, but his header is entirely misaimed and goes well off target. Close range, not too much of a challenge, he should have scored.
Rafael van der Vaart
Tottenham also introduce a striker, Louis Saha replacing Rafael van der Vaart, as well as taking the booked Sandro off for Jake Livermore.
Chelsea need to step things up so it's no great surprise that Fernando Torres is introduced in place of Michael Essien, presumably with a switch to 4-4-2 on the cards.
Luiz now gives away a free kick for Tottenham by knocking Luka Modric over with his shoulder.
David Luiz may have done more harm than good from the rebound there - he stuck out a leg desperately in the hopes of diverting Mata's shot back in but instead simply knocked it out of the path of the better-set Didier Drogba.
Spurs were apparently a little annoyed that Chelsea didn't stop play for Younes Kaboul there, though they are not obliged to. He only gets to go off for treatment once Tottenham give away a free kick - and MATA HITS THE POST! The Spaniard curls it in left-footed and it smacks against the woodwork.
Younes Kaboul has been disappointing at the back today but he embarks on an exciting attacking run down the left before aiming a testing cross into the area. John Terry, however, is fully on top of it, and now Kaboul looks to be struggling with an injury.
Nothing from the corner, but Chelsea get an appetising free kick from 30 yards out which Didier Drogba smacks almightily into the wall at great pace. Tottenham aim to break but Kyle Walker's cross is oddly not given as a corner when Ashley Cole apparently gets a touch.
Here's our man at the Bridge, Wayne Veysey: "'Chelsea reject', sing the home fans, to one of Scott Parker or William Gallas. Perhaps both. But the match and atmosphere are finally warming up after such a tepid opening hour. The home side have been fairly cautious and reliant on long cross-field balls up to this point, but they need the three points more than Spurs, so we can expect to see a tidal wave of blue attacks from here on in."
Kyle Walker is a little annoyed that Brad Friedel doesn't come out to claim a very close ball that he is forced to knock behind.
Yellow Card Sandro
David Luiz's first contribution at right-back is crossing to nobody in particular apart from Brad Friedel. Sandro gets a yellow, meanwhile, for clattering into Michael Essien. Starting to tot up, these fouls.
Yellow Card Benoit Assou-Ekotto
There was maybe a little more in that Assou-Ekotto nudge than I first thought. He collides with Ramires again a moment later, flying spectacularly over the Brazilian's back, and we have a pause to catch our breaths.
Chelsea come forward again, once more with directness. Juan Mata plays Daniel Sturridge in with a fine through ball and the England man delivers - Ramires feels that he should have had a penalty for Benoit Assou-Ekotto's intervention, but it's only a corner as the Brazilian perhaps goes down early looking for it. Sturridge heads it wide.
That cross is the Portuguese's last involvement as David Luiz is introduced at right-back. Bosingwa did only recently return from injury - what might this mean for Gareth Bale?
Younes Kaboul again in trouble! He fails to deal with a long ball once again and is spared only by Juan Mata's equally-uncharacteristic failure to control as it comes right to him. The Frenchman was left all at sea by Jose Bosingwa's cross.
Kyle Walker gets forward from right-back and he's supplied for a shot on the stretch. It's a big ask for him, really, but he still lets his effort go - wide, though.
The atmosphere at Stamford Bridge seems to be waking up, too. Emmanuel Adebayor continues to be the hardest-working man in the Tottenham side, tracking back to win and hold up the ball before returning it to his defenders.
The game has certainly livened up by a notch or two since the restart. Chelsea now looking to build, and Ramires jinks into space before feeding Didier Drogba, but he's crowded out on the edge of the box.
Chance for Chelsea! Didier Drogba is the target of a long ball and Younes Kaboul doesn't pick him up properly, allowing the Ivorian to stand and nod it into Sturridge's path, but the winger's first-time shot is drilled wide. Good opportunity.
Yellow Card Michael Essien
Luka Modric beguiles Michael Essien as he tries to break down the left flank and the Ghanaian can only knock him over as the Croat goes past, picking up a yellow card for his troubles. It's Chelsea's 60th booking of the season.
Ramires turns inside from the right wing and aims a probing cross towards the far post but Didier Drogba's the wrong side of it. Then Daniel Sturridge concedes a free kick by jumping naively with Brad Friedel.
... Chelsea try to counter with Daniel Sturridge but he checks inside a little early and Scott Parker's excellent anticipation sees him take care of things for Tottenham.
Tottenham start on the attack, a cross from the right being deflected out for a corner. Luka Modric's delivery is firmly headed out by John Terry, though ...
Tottenham kick the second half off.
Here's how our correspondent Wayne Veysey sees it at Stamford Bridge: "There is polite applause from both sets of fans at the end of perhaps the dullest 45 minutes I have seen this season. If this is what glorious sunshine does, let's have some howling winds and belting rain instead. The tempo of the match has been slow, there has been only one chance of note ( a double-one for van der Vaart on the eve of the break) and even the atmosphere has been subdued. Nevertheless, Spurs were a Petr Cech save and an Ashley Cole goal-line clearance away from taking the lead in added time, providing hope for better things in the second half. This game can only improve."
It's worth praising Ashley Cole's contribution to keeping the rebound from that Van der Vaart effort off the line, too.
HALF-TIME and it's CHELSEA 0-0 TOTTENHAM. That was a minute entirely out of character from the 45 that preceded it. A very slow match so far.
45' + 1'
Finally some action! In the single minute of stoppage time, Tottenham advance down the left, with Luka Modric getting onto the byeline to divert the ball into the area. Van der Vaart's shot is well saved by Petr Cech before Emmanuel Adebayor heads over.
Emmanuel Adebayor seeks to gee things up for Tottenham by energetically grabbing the ball and delivering it to Benoit Assou-Ekotto in space on the left whilst haring forward at great pace. The left-back ruins it, though, by playing a rancid pass into absolutely nowhere.
Kyle Walker reacts well to intercept another attempted long pass into the path of Daniel Sturridge on the left and it's snuffed out again.
Gareth Bale is starting to move away from the left flank in search of space. On the counter, he tries to force his way into the game by shooting from the inside-left channel, but it's long and high.
The initial free kick is well headed out and Benoit Assou-Ekotto's attempted volley in response just hits the blue shirt straight in front of him.
Tottenham look to calm things down slightly by once again passing things around in the midfield, but as soon as they find a glimpse of attacking hope - Luka Modric earning a little space near the area - it's intercepted. Now, though, a free kick for Spurs as Gareth Bale draws a foul from Frank Lampard.
William Gallas badly misjudges in the box, trying to take down a Chelsea long ball but miscontrolling and giving Juan Mata a sniff - the Spaniard hasn't got a lot of options, though. The Tottenham defence look less than impregnable.
Drogba hobbles back onto the pitch as Chelsea lose possession with an overhit through-ball straight to Brad Friedel.
There's a slight pause as Didier Drogba takes a bit of treatment and the players have some drinks.
Spurs finally take an opportunity to break, with Emmanuel Adebayor displaying great strength to get past Bosingwa on the left and get the cross in - Kyle Walker incredibly gets from one goal to the other in time to try to meet it, but the cross is a little off and the right-back does a funny sort of dive in vainly attempting to make contact. Chance gone.
However, Frank Lampard's cross is cleared by a diving header from Kyle Walker. A better effort from the right-back that time.
Handball is given against Scott Parker on the Chelsea left, a good position to swing a cross in from the free kick.
Kyle Walker does well to get back in time to help defend a Chelsea break but his header in the box nearly puts itself on a plate for a blue shirt. Tottenham are looking a little fragile.
Here's the latest from Wayne Veysey at Stamford Bridge: "With the game so dull and both teams playing slow and cautious football ('park the bus', anyone?) the eye is diverted to some spectacular luminous boots on display. Juan Mata and Benoit Assou-Ekotto are standing out in fetching orange, but the winner for gaudiest footwear is William Gallas. The member of the 2005 and 2006 Chelsea title-winning teams is making sure he stands out with the nattiest pair of bright pink boots. I don't think that is why he is being jeered, though..."
Daniel Sturridge scampers down the left flank and wins a corner from nothing. Strong, pacy run from the England man.
William Gallas is perhaps a mite lucky not to concede a penalty as Chelsea come forward with Frank Lampard. Younes Kaboul again could have done more to pick him up but his partner does stretch across the midfielder slightly in holding him off. No decision, though.
Rafael van der Vaart is frustrated - he feels that his header, meeting a cross from the left, came off John Terry before going out, and TV replays appear to support him. Nothing doingl though.
Neither side has yet registered an attempt on goal.
A free kick is given against Emmanuel Adebayor for sending John Terry to the floor in an aerial challenge. After it, Chelsea have a brief moment of spark, aiming forward direct with a springy through-ball put in the direction of Juan Mata through the middle, though it's too fast for him.
There's not been a great deal of goalmouth incident so far but there is enough of a lingering feeling that both of these sides could do some damage. Didier Drogba and the runs of Kyle Walker appear to be each side's greatest threat at this stage.
Chelsea are starting to win their tackles in midfield and are consequently having more half-chances to get forward. A Jose Bosingwa cross, though, goes straight to the head of the isolated William Gallas and is dealt with.
Gareth Bale senses a rare opportunity to break when Ramires loses possession, but, despite his athletic run forward, the Brazilian combines with Jose Bosingwa to shut him down on the left touchline.
A long pass towards Daniel Sturridge on the left wing sees an offside flag raised.
That corner having come to nothing, we return to the calm midfield build-up, Chelsea now settling into a greater spell of control.
Here's the latest word from our correspondent at Stamford Bridge, Wayne Veysey: "It's a hot enough day here for Harry Redknapp to have already handed over his jacket to the Spurs kit man. But it's not just the weather that is getting Harry hot under the collar. He has been out of the dugout to scream instructions at his players, who he believes have not shaped up how he ordered. They have begun in 4-3-3 formation with Luka Modric just in front of defensive sentries Scott Parker and Sandro, and Gareth Bale and Rafael van der Vaart either side of Emmanuel Adebayor. Chelsea have set up in the 4-4-1-1 formation that worked so well in the last 75 minutes against Napoli 11 days ago. Juan Mata is in the hole, with Daniel Sturridge on the left and Ramires on the right flank to double up on Bale."
Chelsea spray the ball about in midfield until Jose Bosingwa finds space advanced on the right. He forces a couple of throw-ins before they can bounce the ball around in the area and get a corner.
Again Didier Drogba causes problems, running past the shoulder of the slightly lax Younes Kaboul, but Benoit Assou-Ekotto covers very well to shrug him off in the penalty area.
Both sides appear to be taking a patient but positive approach to this match. Tottenham have seen more of the ball but Chelsea are starting to enjoy some more possession now.
Rafael van der Vaart's corner is headed straight back and Chelsea clear more than once as Spurs try to follow up. Eventually the away side are pushed back but keep hold of the ball.
Tottenham are patiently passing the ball around in the Chelsea half, waiting for an opportunity, and the lively-looking Kyle Walker forges one when he forces a corner.
A delightful move from Chelsea nearly pays dividends. John Terry plays it out from the back to Ashley Cole, who keeps things moving with quick, low passing - Didier Drogba can't quite find space, though, and Spurs manage to crowd Chelsea out, but threatening from the hosts.
Tottenham look to attack through Emmanuel Adebayor, who holds the ball up before trying to run around the edge of the area and find space, but Gary Cahill gets a solid challenge in to divert the ball away from him.
Frank Lampard hooks a useful-looking ball down the right flank but Benoit Assou-Ekotto, whose birthday it is today, fights off Ramires well.
A hearty chorus of boos greets former Blue William Gallas, starting today in place of the injured Ledley King.
Chelsea get things going.
Chelsea have scored at least once in all of their home league matches so far this season, losing just one of their last eight at Stamford Bridge. Encouraging signs for the Blues.
Here's another word from our man at the ground, Wayne Veysey: "Watching both sets of players take part in gentle warm-up exercises and stretches down on the pitch, the striking thing is how relaxed Chelsea look in the midday sunshine. There are smiles and laughs from Didier Drogba, Michael Essien and Frank Lampard. Is this a result of the more relaxed regime under interim first-team coach (naff title alert) Roberto Di Matteo? Or just the effect of having the sun on their backs? There is a real air of expectancy here at the Bridge and a hope that the glorious weather can be matched by an equally fabulous match."
Harry Redknapp has told Sky Sports before the game that Spurs need "strong characters" to get a result in this match - which would be very important, as Chelsea are only two points behind Tottenham now. Three points would be massive for the visitors in ensuring that their slump in form doesn't endanger Champions League qualification.
Goal.com UK's Chief Correspondent, Wayne Veysey, is at the Bridge today and he brings this report: "The big talking point here at the Bridge is strikers - and who is in and out of favour. For Chelsea, Fernando Torres must start the match in a tracksuit on the bench, as Didier Drogba is recalled after the Spaniard's nearly-but-not-quite midweek display against Manchester City. David Luiz will also be watching proceedings from the dugout, as Gary Cahill gets the nod to start alongside fit-again skipper John Terry. By my reckoning, that points towards the Brazilian starting against his former club Benfica on Tuesday. As for Spurs, fit-again Emmanuel Adebayor will lead the line in place of Louis Saha, who drops down to the bench. With Aaron Lennon still unavailable, it means one of Rafael van der Vaart or, more likely, Luka Modric will be cast in the role of square peg in a round hole. Sandro will protect the defence alongside Scott Parker, which probably means the Croatian will start on the left, where he is never as effective."
TOTTENHAM TEAM NEWS: Friedel; Walker, Kaboul, Gallas, Assou-Ekotto; Bale, Parker, Sandro, Modric; Van der Vaart; Adebayor. Subs: Defoe, Saha, Kranjcar, Cudicini, Rose, Livermore, Nelsen.
CHELSEA TEAM NEWS: Cech; Bosingwa, Terry, Cahill, Cole; Essien, Lampard, Ramires; Sturridge, Drogba, Mata. Subs: Turnbull, Luiz, Meireles, Mikel, Malouda, Kalou, Torres.
Good afternoon and welcome to Goal.com's LIVE! commentary of Chelsea - Tottenham in the Premier League. I'm George Ankers. Team news from Stamford Bridge coming right up.
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