25 February, 2008

And this Season’s First Piece of Silverware Goes to…

Chelsea!! Congrat…hang on wait a sec…they lost? To Spurs?! Jesus, the Stamford Bridge faithful can’t be too happy, now facing as they are the likely prospect of winning exactly no silverware once again this year. Seriously though, big up to Spurs and all their supporters, it’s not been a great season but things are definitely looking brighter now under the watchful eye of Ramos and Poyet.

The game itself was pretty dry to be perfectly honest, with Tottenham dominating much of the possession but just failing to make the right pass or find the target from shooting opportunities. Chelsea were their usual selves; strong and energetic, but with absolutely no flair or hint of excitement despite the vast number of attack-minded players on display. It was The Blues who predictably opened the scoring, with Didier Drogba wrong-footing Paul Robinson with a free-kick 25 yards out ten minutes from the end of the first half. As the clock ticked down it looked like Chelsea were simply going to kill the game off through possession, but with twenty minutes still left on the clock Wayne Bridge strangely used his arm inside the box to keep the ball away from Jermaine Jenas, and Dimitar Berbatov calmly did the rest from the penalty spot.

Extra time then, and as ever, it was a matter of fitness and nerve for both sides. Having been excellent at the back all game, new signing Jonathon Woodgate, in just his fourth game for the club, made himself an instant hero by heading a lifted free-kick past Petr Cech four minutes into extra time. This seemed to finally galvanise Chelsea into action, and inspired by substitutes Ballack and Joe Cole, they pushed forward and actually started to create chances. Unfortunately for the Blues though, their best chance fell to the feet of Salomon Kalou, and predictably Paul Robinson was able to make the vital save to push Tottenham over the finish line and bag himself his first career medal. The Spurs keeper, who’s been under constant scrutiny this season, later enthused about the victory: “It means everything!”

While yesterday wasn’t a great spectacle, STT feels that Spurs deserved the win just for their performance against Arsenal in the semi-final, if for nothing else. That night they were magical, and while they were never likely to recapture that irresistible form again, they at least showed attacking intent at Wembley, and a desire to put on another show for their fans. An ecstatic Juande Ramos had these words after the presentation: “This (cup) maybe has a special flavour to it because it was against a team that is supposedly superior to us.”

Chelsea meanwhile must lick their wounds and try not to go out of the Champions League and the FA Cup as well in the next fortnight, which will now be so crucial to shaping their season with hope of Premier League success all but dead…