Chelsea 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1: Scolari lets slip Kalou bid as a diversion
Monday 01 September 2008
Now we know that Luiz Felipe Scolari is not just a shrewd coach. He has also read that chapter in the manager's handbook that tells you what to do in the event of your team tossing away two points at home to Tottenham. The answer? Tell everyone who Arsenal's transfer target was earlier in the summer and hope they forget about the result.
It turns out Arsène Wenger made an offer for Salomon Kalou. It was casually mentioned by Scolari yesterday as he discussed his striking options in the absence of Didier Drogba. Arsenal made the enquiry when they thought that Emmanuel Adebayor might leave them – possibly even to Chelsea – and you suspect Wenger asked Chelsea to keep it to themselves.
Asked why he considered Kalou as a central striker, Scolari cited Wenger's opinion. "If you ask Arsène Wenger, he wants him [Kalou] as a No 9 so why shouldn't I play him there?" Scolari said. "Arsène's an intelligent man, so maybe he knows something."
No doubt his friend will be delighted to have his transfer business made public but it served a purpose for Scolari. The Chelsea manager is evidently not averse to being political when it suits him – he is learning fast in the Premier League.
Nevertheless, it was difficult to dispel the notion that Juande Ramos had the measure of another Chelsea manager yesterday, especially in the way he changed his team after a fortuitous equaliser for Darren Bent just before half-time. Before then Chelsea had run the game, taken the lead through Juliano Belletti and generally looked like they were about to extend Spurs' run of two defeats.
There are undoubtedly problems in Ramos's team. There is no Dimitar Berbatov and too little Premier League experience in Luka Modric and Giovani Dos Santos, who looked like autumn leaves in the slipstream of the Chelsea juggernaut in the first half. But Ramos withdrew Dos Santos and kept faith with Modric and Tottenham withstood the onslaught.
With Tom Huddlestone on as the holding midfielder and Jermaine Jenas as right-back, Ramos gave Spurs a touch of stability. He is adept at thinking on his feet and is not afraid to make bold decisions – rather like Jose Mourinho. Chelsea have not forgotten that he showed Avram Grant how it was done in the Carling Cup final in February.
There were no Mourinho-style accusations of Spurs coming to Stamford Bridge to "park the bus" in front of their own goal. Instead Scolari was lyrical about the quality of Spurs' players and how difficult his side found it to break them down. He must have been disappointed by Deco, who was overly cautious after an early booking. Nicolas Anelka did not suggest Drogba will have any trouble getting back in this team after the international break.
Whether even Robinho would have made a difference was debatable because without Drogba Chelsea do not have a target man in case of emergency. In midfield, Didier Zokora had one of his best games for Spurs, snapping around the heels of Frank Lampard and Michael Essien. Gareth Bale excelled at left-back.
Chelsea's goal came on 27 minutes, when Bent moved to clear a corner from Lampard at the near post and missed the ball. Belletti nipped ahead of Zokora and toed the ball in from close range. Earlier Lampard's chip had been touched over the bar by Heurelho Gomes but Chelsea had precious few good chances.
They were punished just before half-time when Lampard and Modric challenged and the ball rebounded into the path of Bent. His first touch was dire and caught out everyone, including Petr Cech, making the angle right for the striker to slip the ball into the net. Tottenham were due a bit of luck but you would not bet on Bent keeping his place ahead of Roman Pavlyuchenko for the match against Aston Villa on 15 September.
Goals: Belletti (27) 1-0; Bent (45) 1-1.
Chelsea (4-1-4-1): Cech; Bosingwa, Terry, Carvalho, A Cole; Belletti (Kalou, 76); J Cole (Malouda, 66), Lampard, Essien, Deco; Anelka (Di Santo, 89). Substitutes not used: Cudicini (gk), Bridge, Ferreira, Alex.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-1-4-1): Gomes; Gunter (Huddlestone, 62), Woodgate, King, Bale; Zokora; Bentley (O'Hara, 72), Jenas, Modric, Dos Santos (Lennon, 59); Bent. Substitutes not used: Cesar (gk), Gilberto, Dawson, Assou-Ekotto.
Referee: H Webb (South Yorkshire).
Booked: Chelsea Deco, J Cole, Bosingwa.
Man of the match: Zokora.
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