This was a game that both teams could not afford to lose. Chelsea, with one win in their previous six matches, and Tottenham, who were looking to maintain their assault on the title challenge. The home side went into the match with positive news in their team sheet. Michael Dawson returned for Spurs, a boost which Harry Redknapp would have wanted for such an important match.
A second pleasurable note for Redknapp is the goal scoring return of his strikers. After Jermaine Defoe scored two in the Champions’ League in the week, Roman Pavlyuchenko was the next to find the net at White Hart Lane, after an exquisite touch followed by a lovely left-footed drive past goalkeeper Petr Cech. The first half showed how dangerous Tottenham can be at White Hart Lane. With the early goal, followed by more chances against a side which lacked any form of attacking threat in the first half, Redknapp would have been disappointed to go in at the break just a goal in front.
The second half however, proved to be very different. The introduction of Didier Drogba at half-time gave Chelsea some more impetus, and provided his teammates with some motivation going forward. Spurs looked the shadow of their selves after the break and came under constant bombardment from the Chelsea front line, despite efforts from Jermaine Defoe and Luka Modric both sailing wide of Cech’s right hand post.
In the 70th minute, Drogba’s touch and strength past Dawson followed with a fiercely-struck shot, and despite Gomes stopping the ball, he gifted Chelsea an equaliser after spilling the attempt back over his own head and into the net. It was a situation coming sooner rather than later. It looked to be another point for both sides. That was until the 91st minute when a clumsy challenge from Gomes brought down Ramires. Despite Lampard being on the pitch, Drogba took the ball, however Gomes was on hand to save his side of a home defeat and thwart Chelsea of their first victory in seven matches. What had been a disastrous day for Gomes soon had its silver lining.
Redknapp will not be too displeased with yesterday’s result. Despite being ahead and with Chelsea out-of-form, the champions are still a combative force and Redknapp with be pleased with his side’s work rate, even with key players missing. One worry for the manager however will be the departure of Wilson Palacios late on with what looked like a nasty knock following a challenge from Ashley Cole. With key midfield men such as Rafael van der Vaart, Tom Huddlestone and Jermaine Jenas already missing, more absences in the spine of Tottenham could prove to be detrimental to their charge on the teams above them.