Another game in London, another old stadium, this time the London derby between Tottenham and Chelsea at White Hart Lane. The stadium dates back to 1899 and has seen some incredible games down the years. Arriving to the ground with a good friend of mine, a Liverpool fanatic, we both laughed at the Anti-Arsenal toilet rolls that were being sold around the ground. The area around the ground is empoverished and is quite far off any means of transport stop (tube or bus). Police were well and truly all over the place to divide the supporters of both clubs, as they usually expect crowd trouble when these two sides meet. Our tickets were in the Chelsea supporters section. To be honest, we’d have preferred if our tickets were in the Tottenham end; but we settled for these seats – which, with respect to the view, were amazing. But besides that, both of us knew that we felt very awkward, to say the least, being there.
As we waited for the teams to appear onto the pitch, the Tottenham fans found their voices to sing their famous chant “when the Spurs go marching in” and I must admit to getting the goosebumps when I witnessed that. That was an incredible sight for someone going to White Hart Lane for the first time. In addition to the Chelsea fans singing their songs, the noise at the start of the game in particular, was incredible – but I’ll mention more on the chants and songs later. The game kicked-off with both teams, in typical fashion, going for it. Tottenham looked the more threatening though. With Van Der Vaart, Modric, Bale and Adebayor creating problems for Chelsea’s defence, led by captain John Terry, it took only 8 minutes for the deadlock to be broken. Gareth Bale, who was the outstanding player throughout the game, went on another of his mazy runs before teeing up Adebayor who got a touch of the ball ahead of Cech or Terry to glide it into the back of the net. 1-0 to Spurs and the momentum was with the home side.
The Chelsea fans alongside us began showing support for their side with their chants – which I must admit – are a bit dire. Not only are there barely any witty lyrics, like other clubs’ chants, but the songs are either all repetitive, or are simply things which involve “the lane” (a reference to Spurs’ stadium). That’s it. Some other chants just repeat the same words over and over again (according to my Liverpool mate, they even “stole” the Torres chant as well). Then I noticed that Spurs fans, apart from the “Come on you spurs” and “when the spurs go marching in”, which create an incredible atmosphere for a minute or so, have got almost no chants. It’s either that or they just decide to stay quiet for large chunks of the game, unless John Terry touches the ball, then boos go ringing around the stadium. Nevertheless, they were surprisingly quiet. So I came to the conclusion that southern clubs are not as creative or noisy, when it comes to chants, as northern clubs – who usually have witty, long and various chants for all players and opponents.
Anyways, back to the game and the entertainment carried on. Chances going both ways, with Bale being the most impressive player in a Spurs shirt, whereas for Chelsea, Juan Mata was conducting everything that was blue. His shot created an opening for Sturridge who somehow blasted it over the bar. But he made amends later on when Ashley Cole, who appeared to handle the ball, crossed in for Sturridge who tapped it in. 1-1 and game on. It was end to end stuff at an incredible pace. As the half went on, Chelsea grew in confidence and were getting more into the game with Spurs now on the back foot, especially when Drogba had a fantastic chance which he blasted onto the post. At the other end, everything Tottenham threw at Chelsea was being dealt with by a man I can’t stand, John Terry. Considering the trouble he’s facing, he performed very well (I still hate the b*****d and feel dirty saying that he had a good game). Half-time duly arrived, with both sides looking to regroup, especially Chelsea who lost Mikel and Ivanovic through injuries.
I thought there’d be more goals in the second half. But it wasn’t to be. Chelsea were in the ascendency for most of the second half, with Tottenham going forward in spells. Friedel stopped everything that came his way from Chelsea, whereas Tottenham fans felt aggrieved by an Adebayor goal that was ruled out for offside, when replays showed that it was a harsh decision. Mata was still pulling the strings for Chelsea, and when you see him playing, it’s evident that he’s not a very fast or pacey player, but he’s an intelligent one. He picks out passes with such class that he’s a joy to watch. He created a few chances for Ramires, Terry and Drogba, who all missed them. However, as the clock was ticking and nearing towards the final whistle, we all felt there was one more goal in it and that almost came when Bale found his way, again, through a sea of Chelsea shirts to give Adebayor a golden opportunity to win it, only for Terry to somehow get his body in the way.
The final whistle came and it ended 1-1. An entertaining affair. Chelsea’s players, Terry in particular, showed their respect towards the Chelsea end and threw their shirts into the crowd. Terry gave his shirt to a Spurs fan, which was rather strange, as his fate is going to be decided soon with regards to the racism row that has put him in trouble once again.