Chelsea and Tottenham may have huffed and puffed their way through 90 minutes at White Hart Lane, but Manchester United and Arsenal must have breathed a collective sigh of relief as, once again, Chelsea, somewhat ingloriously, contrived to almost snatch a defeat from what seemed like certain victory. Three goals to the good, with just one in reply with some of the best defenders in Europe on the pitch protecting a somewhat tentative Carlo Cudicini. Then a wheel fell off, then another.
There were were tied with our most effective player in Joe Cole almost out on his feet, and our most enigmatic player, Didier Drogba, already at fault for one goal, looking for all the world like he’d had a gutful of of trying to hold up play with his back to the goal, whilst waiting for the support that never came to reward his graft. The crowd around me made their feelings clear about Didier’s contribution this evening, though it wasn’t until Spurs’ final equaliser arrived that they started on Grant. I was left, not for the first time, wondering if I was at a different match to many of the people who’d made the trip to this armpit of a place in North London.
By my reckoning it’s some 30 years since I’ve been to White Hart Lane and, for my first ever away game as a small child, a good few years before that. Reading the programme on the Tube reminded me that game, on my birthday no less, was also a draw. Same old Chelsea, eh? I guess it’s my fault for making the trip to what has become know with some affection amongst the Chelsea faithful as ‘Three Point Lane’. My lasting impressions of the Lane, however, have not changed on bit. It’s a dump, in the middle of a dump, with no pubs. If I live that long, I’ll be happy if it’s another 30 years before I return.
Probably better that I stay away, given the result and the fact that just I texted Harry, who was running late, to let him know that normal service had been resumed just a few minutes into the game. The travelling Chelsea felt sure that things had returned to something resembling normality after the Spuds humbled us in the League Cup recently, but then they could never have know what was about to unfold before our eyes.
In some ways it really doesn’t matter what happened between Chelsea’s opening gambit and Spurs’ final equaliser just before the final whistle. At times both teams were excellent, at others hapless, misguided and lacking direction. But in that final moment, the Chelsea faithful who up until that point had been excellent in their support of the Blues, were silenced. It was as if, collectively, nobody had a clue what happened. Thinking about it now, I still don’t. In that moment, when a reasonable shot at the title started to slip away like the crowds into the night, I’m left with the pain of the Tottenham fans’ voices ringing in my ears.
“Three-one, and you f***ed it up.”
That hurts, it really hurts, but it’s hard to argue with.