Chelsea 0 Tottenham Hotspur 0
Chelsea 0 Tottenham Hotspur 0
The next time these two sides meet, the groundsman may as well be ordered to paint the turf in black and white squares. It was a game of tactical chess - such was the organisational rigour involved - and afterwards Chelsea's Jose Mourinho felt he had been cheated by an opponent who came solely to achieve that stalemate. Aptly enough, and to continue the metaphor, it was a King who dominated. Tottenham Hotspur's Ledley King was the game's pivotal figure and he never looked like being caught as he marshalled his side's defences.
The result means that Chelsea failed to capitalise on Arsenal's draw against Bolton on Saturday. The gap at the top remains two points and Mourinho was furious. Not with his players, who - for the second successive Premiership match - did not score, but with Jacques Santini, his team and their alleged time-wasting.
"I think it is frustrating for me, the players, for every Chelsea supporter and for every football supporter. Because people are not paying money to see one team play and for another to keep falling down, kicking balls away, sending for the medical department and spending five minutes to change players," he said in a furious diatribe.
The biter, perhaps, was bit, as anyone who witnessed a few of his Porto side's performances would testify. "My team played fantastic football," he said. "They [Spurs] may as well have put the team bus in front of the goal." Indeed, Mourinho ended the match with four strikers - something he said he would never normally have done.
Santini was unrepentant - and rightly so. "They have big international players," he said of Chelsea, "and that obliged my young team to defend."
Mourinho, by implication, claimed Spurs were a "small team" - and Santini did not disagree. "I'm happy," he said. His tactics worked, Mourinho's did not. And that is probably what made the Portuguese so furious. Chelsea may have extended their unbeaten run to 29 league games against Spurs, but that matters little in the context of this Premiership season. They needed the three points.
It was almost none. The Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech pulled off the save of the match in pushing away Robbie Keane's header in the second half, although Eidur Gudjohnsen also struck the base of the post and Tottenham's Paul Robinson reacted smartly to dig out Frank Lampard's fierce free-kick.
It was Lampard's 114th consecutive Premiership match - a new record - but he figured little. Indeed, Chelsea only really started to fire in the final 20 minutes once Damien Duff came on and offered width. For all Mourinho's considerable tactical sophistication, sometimes there's nothing more effective than a good, old-fashioned winger.
In truth, the result was no surprise. These two sides - both unbeaten - have conceded just three times between them in 13 matches. Not that it started as if there would be no goals. Chelsea forced three corners inside 90 seconds and followed that with an amazing 77-second passing sequence. On four minutes, Tiago's shot cleared the bar. "Their intention was there from the start," said the Spurs captain, Jamie Redknapp.
And so was his team's. Spurs remained unflappable. Two banks of four, with Robbie Keane also dropping back. It isolated Jermain Defoe and Mourinho could not resist another dig. "Poor Defoe, poor boy," he said. "He was just there chasing the ball. Poor game for him." Maybe so. But his strikers fared little better. Twice Joe Cole - who had a bright game until withdrawn - supplied Gudjohnsen. For the first, King's challenge stopped him dead; for the second, the Icelander's header was wayward.
Didier Drogba was even more wasteful. After a clever twist, his shot was blocked by Robinson while, in the second half, the goalkeeper reacted quickly to push the striker wide and only concede a corner. To cap it all Drogba fell in the area - and his penalty appeals were waved away, as were those of Defoe's moments earlier.
There were five minutes of added time. "There should have been 15," said Mourinho, returning to his theme, but Chelsea could not break through. Spurs deserved their point and, at the end, Santini punched his fists together in delight. Mourinho probably did the same ... in frustration.
Chelsea (4-1-2-1-2): Cech; Ferreira, Carvalho, Terry, Bridge (Smertin, 85); Makelele; Tiago (Kezman, 65), Lampard; Cole (Duff, 65); Drogba, Gudjohnsen. Substitutes not used: Pidgeley (gk), Gallas.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Robinson; Pamarot, King, Naybet, Edman; Davies, Redknapp, Mendes, Atouba (Brown, 74); Keane, Defoe (Kanouté, 87). Substitutes not used: Keller (gk), Mabizela, Gardner.
Referee: M Riley (Yorkshire).
Booked: Tottenham Hotspur: King.
Man of the match: King.
Attendance: 42,426.Reuse content