In this series, I review my in-ground experience throughout the campaign, this time for Tottenham Hotspur at home. It’s split into two columns, one for home games and the other for away days. I run through various topics from atmosphere to a game review and give some unique observations directly from stadiums up and down the country.
Tottenham Hotspur (H): Pre-Match Prediction
After a few away games in a row during this month, it was a welcome change to be back at the Bridge. After all, those matches in between the previous home match against Chesterfield had hardly been the most enjoyable. A loss to Manchester City and a disappointing draw to Brighton meant the mood going into this one wasn’t the highest.
That said, there was also another away trip in that time, as the Blues went to Tottenham Hotspur. They cruised past their opponents in the second leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final, to set up a Wembley final against Liverpool at the end of February.
With it being the same opponents for the third time in a month, it was a slightly odd feeling heading into the game. Not only that, but with plenty of sub-plots from the likes of Antonio Conte returning to the Bridge again, to the top four battle heating up, this was a huge game.
As such, I felt it pretty difficult to know what to say in my pre-match prediction:
‘A little over a week ago, I was ready for what had the potential to be a brilliant week. Starting off with a massive away day in Manchester, I felt excited at the prospect of the early kick-off being an upset. Unfortunately, that one didn’t quite go to plan for the Blues.
Nevertheless, I didn’t have to wait long for the next game. Surely we could get back on track with a win against the Seagulls? Ah, perhaps not. So, we arrive at today’s game, and the mood is certainly not as optimistic as I would like it to be, especially when playing such big rivals.
In terms of a prediction, I’m not sure I’ve felt more nervous for a game all season, given the current situation. I’d never predict anything less than a win, but I can’t see it being convincing whatsoever. I’m going with a 1-0 victory, though it probably won’t be pretty.’
If you’ve read any of my previous posts in this series, you’ll already be fairly familiar with the pros and cons of various stands in the stadium, as I’ve run through them multiple times now. As such, it probably won’t come as much of a surprise where I was for this one.
For such a crucial game, against such big rivals, it could only really be the Matthew Harding Lower, given the atmosphere created there. There are other stands with a little better view, but in terms of chants and songs, nowhere really comes to close to this one.
For my seat in particular, I was in Row DD, which was just on the cusp of where you’d want to be in terms of distance back from the pitch. The overhang of the upper tier isn’t damaging, but just one row further and you’d have a bit of a problem seeing the other side of the pitch.
On another positive note, I was fairly central too, meaning I didn’t find myself craning my neck to look to one side of the pitch, as I have done in the past. As usual, to clear up any confusion, I was to the right of the main cameras, in the lower tier of the stand behind the goal.
Chelsea 2-0 Tottenham Hotspur: Game Review
It wasn’t exactly the most entertaining half of football that you’re ever likely to see, especially in the Premier League. Both sides looked poor going forwards, creating little to no chances during the entirety of the opening 45 minutes.
While the Blues had the majority of possession, they really didn’t do a whole lot with it. Various corners and crosses came in, but didn’t threaten the Tottenham goal, with Lloris not having to work particularly hard, much to many home fans’ frustration.
If anything, it was the away side who had the better of the opportunities, when Harry Kane put the ball in the net, only for it to be ruled out by the referee for a foul on Thiago Silva. Lucky, perhaps, but the two sides went in level at the break.
While the first half was poor, it certainly didn’t carry over through the interval, as the Blues got off to a flyer in the second half. Hakim Ziyech curled a sublime shot into the top left corner two minutes into the half, and Chelsea were ahead.
That seemed to kick the team into action, as they then piled on the pressure looking for a second. It came right minutes later, when Thiago Silca got on the end of a Mason Mount delivery, giving the home side a two goal cushion.
For the remainder of the game, Tuchel’s team simply controlled the ball, occasionally going forwards to look for a third. It didn’t come, but in the end that was irrelevant, as Chelsea went on to pick up three much-needed points.
Things you don’t see and hear on TV
As would be expected for a London derby, the atmosphere was a notch above from the start in this one. Not only did the rivalry add to the occasion, but the context of the league table meant both sides knew exactly what was at stake right from kick-off.
There was of course the customary ‘Tottenham get battered’ chants at various points, which are always well received. A few ‘Que sera sera’ were mixed in along the way too, reminding the away side of their loss in the Carabao Cup semi finals recently.
Another one which got most involved was a chant directed at the opposition striker, Harry Kane. Specifically, ‘Harry Kane, he spits when he wants,’ which, while a little harsh, can’t exactly be said to be completely untrue either.
It also wouldn’t be a Chelsea vs Tottenham Hotspur game without a mention of Willian and how he spectacularly rejected Spurs before going on to sign for Chelsea. To the same tune, the new Mateo Kovacic song also made a few appearances, which was good to hear.
As always, the love for Thiago Silva was evident right throughout the whole game, not more so than when he headed home for the second goal. He might’ve only joined 18 months ago, but he’s already established himself as a fan favourite.
Finally, there was the seemingly mundane, but actually rather noticeable reaction at the final whistle. As ‘Blue is the Colour’ blared out across the tannoy, almost the whole stand joined in with the song which, as anyone who has been to the Bridge before will know, isn’t always the case. Irrelevant, perhaps, but it did feel quite significant.
This feels like a very important win, not only looking at the league table in terms of the top four places, but also because of the rut we seemed to have got stuck in recently, with the form table not presenting the kindest picture.
It could’ve, and probably should’ve been more in all honesty, but given the pessimism with which I went into the game, I will absolutely take the result. And, fundamentally, who can ever complain about beating Spurs three times in one month?
Tottenham Hotspur, it’s happened again.
Written and Edited by Noah Robson (@noahrobson_)
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