And it had all begun quite encouragingly. Sitting back away from home and soaking up the pressure just isn’t the Tottenham way, so right from the off we took the game to that lot, giving as good as we got in the first half. Jenas, Hudd and Palacios weren’t far off with their long-range efforts, and there was a gorgeous through-ball from Sergeant Wilson to free up Defoe in the early stages. By stages however, everything that could go wrong did go wrong. It was loosely reminiscent of one of those action films in which everything starts off serenely enough, before one by one the characters are all killed off and by the end it’s complete carnage.Interestingly, ‘Arry opted to replace Modric by pretending the problem wasn’t there and doing away with the concept of a left-winger. To be honest I’m not entirely sure precisely what formation it was – a lop-sided 4-4-2, or maybe a variant on 4-3-3. The players did not make it abundantly clear, and either way there was not much of a presence on the left. Whether or not the deployment of a winger on the left would have at least helped to keep a lid on the Chelski full-backs will go down as one of life’s hypotheticals. Our formation actually worked to an extent in the first half – fluid if a little shapeless, and benefiting from Keane dropping back from attack – but ultimately, irrespective of the formation, we missed Modric’s guile. Jenas and Palacios had their moments, but we lacked a cutting-edge.
Pointing the Finger
And on the subject of the centre-backs, I’m really not quite sure what happened in the latter stages, as Stamford Bridge started to resemble the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan. Bodies dropping everywhere, stretcher-bearers working over-time, and the Chelski groundstaff having to sweep bloodied limbs off the pitch at full-time. I doubt that anyone else will want to play centre-back for us now, as the position is clearly cursed.
The hullaballoo over the penalty also glosses over the fact that the second goal was a poor one to concede, as once Cudicini had shovelled the ball sideways two Chelksi players reacted faster than any of our lot. That whole sequence of events – the penalty shout, followed by the strength of Drogba and the sight of our boys casually rocking on their heels as the Chelski forwards gobbled up the scraps – summed things up. Bad luck, bad defending, clinical finishing from the other lot.