Man of the Match: Chelsea had a lot of good but not great performances, with John Terry, Frank Lampard, John Obi Mikel and Ramires putting a good foot forward. But let’s give this one to Didier Drogba. His opening goal was massive, in more ways than one. Not only was the timing of it important (opening the scoring) but the skill behind it was incredible. How often does somebody do something like that at Wembley?
Packaged for takeaway:
- It was amazing to see Tottenham content to sit back, not pressure Chelsea at all in the first half. While Chelsea brought the ball out of their own end, only Emmanuel Adebayor was in their half, providing only the obligatory pursuit.
- The approach was far too deferential. Between that and Spurs seeming insistence on only counter attacking (playing a number of quick, low-percentage balls out of their own half rather than retaining possession), it was as if Harry Redknapp told his team taht Chelsea was as strong as two years ago and they’ll need to feast on crumbs.
- Despite all this, Tottenham were probably the better team come halftime. Twice they came close to the opener, with John Terry saving a Rafael van der Vaart header off the line before van der Vaart went off the post with a cross for that left Petr Cech of two minds. Neither of those chances were generated off of counters.
- But the best Spurs chance was probably a non-chance. David Luiz, beaten by Aaron Lennon just inside the penalty area, reached out and grabbed his opponent. Lennon elected to run through it, something that surely earned him Twitter plaudits, but it may have cost his team. Gus Puyet, asked at halftime whether he thought Lennon should have gone down, said “yes, but maybe that’s because I’m a foreigner.” That’s probably not the reason, Gus.
- Spurs’ unwillingness to pressure Chelsea bit them on the first goal. Frank Lampard was allowed to play a 60-yard ball for Drogba, who then got all Drogba-y. While some bay ask that William Gallas do more (seems he left Drogba with only a very tough shot), what they should be asking is why is Harry Redknapp implemented a plan that does pressure the likes of Lampard.
- The second goal was terrible. After Carlo Cudicini blocks a ball into the air, John Terry comes in and, under the guise of playing the ball, launches himself and takes out three Spurs: Ledley King, Benoit Assou-Ekotto, and the goalkeeper. Juan Mata comes, plays a ball into the pile, and Martin Atkinson gives a goal despite the ball not even reaching the line. I can only infer that amid the chaos, Atkinson trusted Juan Mata’s celebration to be the decider. (I say that flippantly, but subconsciously, that might have happened.)
- Credit to Spurs for responding quickly, but unfortunately, Martin Atkinson made another somewhat controversial decision. When, in the 56th minute, Emmanuel Adebayor blew by David Luiz and went in alone on goal, he was taken down by Petr Cech after playing the ball wide, allowing Gareth Bale to run onto Spurs’ first goal. Atkinson played advantage and let play continue, but Cech should have still been carded. Advantage means allowing play to continue. It doesn’t mean the foul didn’t happen.
- If course, the root of the controversy was many (myself included) thinking Cech should have been sent off, but as it was pointed out to me soon after, the laws of the game state that if advantage is played on a goal scoring opportunity and the goal’s subsequently scored, you can’t dismiss the offender. You can only issue a yellow card.
- After late goals by Ramires, Lampard, and Florent Malouda, the scoreline is unfairly lopsided. Many broadcasters and pundits opined Sprus had played better throughout much of the match, but that doesn’t mean Chelsea’s result is undeserved. In fact, many of Chelsea’s matches have played out this way of late. This is their new approach, and while it won’t win style points, it may win trophies.
- They’ll get their chance in the FA Cup final. Chelsea moves on while Spurs are left to hold them (and Newcastle) off for fourth in league if they’re to salvage their season.