When the Premier League fixture lists are announced each summer, our games against Spurs are always the ones most Blues fans look for first. Simple proximity makes the rivalry highly-anticipated every year, but in recent seasons our clashes with the North Londoners seem to have had heightened importance, with the result often relevant to the outcome of our campaigns.
Nowadays, we can pretty much guarantee a fixture against Tottenham in our Premier League run-in, but while there are still plenty of games left, this weekend’s clash will have a particular intensity. The reason for that is that rather than challenging for a title or aiming for points to shoot down Manchester United in top spot, Chelsea are this time in direct competition with Spurs for Champions League Qualification.
We go into this game, the thirtieth of the season, five points behind our opponents and in desperate need of a win to close the gap to two. With Harry Redknapp’s team in dire form, this may be a good time to welcome them to Stamford Bridge. But with the incentive of Champions League football combined with an already fierce rivalry, notwithstanding a potential FA Cup Semi Final derby at Wembley on the cards, this one has all the ingredients of a nerve-shredder. And as nail-biters in the last few years illustrate, we’ve had some mixed fortunes …
Chelsea 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur, Stamford Bridge, Saturday 11th March, 2006
In search of points to add to an impressive title charge, Jose Mourinho’s men took an early lead through Michael Essien. After Jermaine Jenas managed a Spurs equaliser just before the break, Chelsea spent much of the second half bombarding the opposition goal, with Didier Drogba and Hernan Crespo going especially close. The Stamford Bridge crowd had to wait for a winner, but it arrived in the form of a 92nd-minute William Gallas thunderbolt, cuing scenes of pandemonium both in the stands and the dug-out. Chelsea went on to secure the Premier League title.
Tottenham Hotspur 4-4 Chelsea, White Hart Lane, Thursday 20th March, 2008
One point each seemed scant reward for both sides in what was a chaotic display of attacking football, that left Avram Grant wondering why his side couldn’t win the game after gaining the lead on three occasions. Drogba headed the opener shortly after kick-off, but Jonathan Woodgate levelled soon after. Essien then restored the lead and Joe Cole tallied to provide a two-goal cushion, but Dimitar Berbatov subsequently scored to provide the platform for Tom Huddlestone to peg Chelsea back to 3-3. Cole struck again for a 4-3 lead, but Robbie Keane scored the goal of the game two minutes from time to complete an unbelievable, and sickening, finale. Chelsea’s title challenge would go to the wire, but saw Manchester United crowned eventual Champions.
Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Chelsea, White Hart Lane, Saturday 21st March, 2009
Spurs continued the evaporation of their stadium’s reputation among Chelsea supporters as Three Point Lane with another home win against Guus Hiddink’s Blues team. The result, courtesy of a brilliant goal from Luka Modric, effectively killed off the chances of the Premier League trophy ending up in West London at the end of the 2008/2009 season.
Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Chelsea, White Hart Lane, Saturday 17th April, 2010
Having already dished out defeat to local rivals Arsenal earlier in the week, in-form Spurs reaped the rewards of a first half-blitz to take their second London scalp in a matter of days. Jermain Defoe opened the scoring from the penalty spot before Gareth Bale doubled the lead on the stroke of half-time. There was more disaster for Chelsea as John Terry was red-carded for a second bookable offence on Bale. An injury-time goal from Frank Lampard provided little consolation, but the team recovered from the defeat and finished the remainder of the season strongly to claim the Premier League title.
Chelsea 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur, Stamford Bridge, Saturday 30th April, 2011
Carlo Ancelotti’s resurgent side enjoyed two huge slices of luck to recover from Sandro’s wonder-strike and claim a late victory. Lampard’s equaliser appeared not to have crossed the line before Gomes clawed the ball off the line, but was awarded anyway. Salomon Kalou, seemingly offside, then pounced on Didier Drogba’s mis-hit shot to take three vital points for his team. The triumph set up a decisive title clash against Manchester United, which Chelsea lost 2-1.
Chelsea vs Tottenham Hotspur, Stamford Bridge, Saturday 24th March, 2012
Of all the aforementioned significant meetings between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, the upcoming fixture could be the most monumental of them all. In terms of the Premier League table, we are very much in a position where we are fighting for our status as a Champions League club.
After receiving thrashings at the hands of the two Manchester clubs to open their season, Spurs went on a blistering run, and up until recently had been touted as possible title-contenders. The form that earned them that tag has since deserted them, and the correlation between the sacking of England Manager Fabio Capello and Tottenham’s dip in form is enormously coincidental if not directly related.
Chelsea’s recent revival was halted at the Etihad in midweek, and the surrender of our lead to two late goals was a flashback to a not-so-distant memory of the AVB era. That said, everyone else who has gone and played there this season has come away with nothing, so if any loss is to be forgiven, it is certainly Manchester City away.
Simply put, a win against Spurs this weekend will provide an important bounce-back that could prove pivotal going into our last eight games, which will include trips to the Emirates Stadium and Anfield. Equally as important, another loss for our North London pals could have a devastating effect on them and, hopefully, play a huge part in derailing their push for fourth.
We will catch them. Keep the faith!