Afternoon all. Well, this should be interesting. The biggest game between the sides since (give or take the odd Carling Cup final) this?
Forget the preambling whimsy, the teams are in!
Tottenham: Gomes, Hutton, Dawson, Bassong, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Palacios, Modric, Bale, Pavlyuchenko, Defoe. Subs: Cudicini, Bentley, Keane, Crouch, Giovani, Corluka, Sandro.
Chelsea: Cech, Ferreira, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole, Ramires, Mikel, Essien, Kalou, Anelka, Malouda. Subs: Turnbull, Lampard, Drogba, Sturridge, Van Aanholt, Bruma, McEachran.
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)
Drogba dropped! Lampard on the bench! Michael Dawson back after three months! Exclamation marks unleashed!!!
Everything points to a Spurs win today, which is probably as good a sign as any that they won't. Chelsea are in a bigger mess than this chap after a night on the ale, while Spurs have more spring in their step than the offspring this little fellow and Zebedee. Chelsea have, of course, won one in six in the league (and none of their last four). Tottenham, four points behind the Blues, are unbeaten in four, and have, on their day, been breathtaking. Expectancy seems to weigh heavy on Spurs' shoulders, while football's 'crises' are rarely as severe as they are painted (in the Premier League at least).
Both managers have been explaining their selections:
Here's Carlo Ancelotti: Drogba dropping a "technical decision".
And here's Harry Redknapp: Michael Dawson "has a heart as big as his body".
How times change dept. The scorers the last time Chelsea won at White Hart Lane in the league? Asier Del Horno and Damien Duff.
Pre-match email dept. CANCELLED DUE TO
APATHY SEVERE WEATHER CONDITIONS
Click-clack, click-clack … the players are in the tunnel …
Pre-match adverts: Gamble, buy a watch, get a new phone, play on your computer, have a shave you scuffy little oik.
Peep! Chelsea, kicking left to right, get things underway in the traditional style.
1 min: Paolo Ferreira and Gareth Bale have their first brief battle, and it's 1-0 to the Portuguese full-back, not that he had to do much.
2 min: Anelka slaps a shot wide after a terribly loose pass from Modric. "'Arry is right," says Mac Millings. "Dawson has a rare form of gigantism that only affects his organs. In addition to his freakishly enlarged heart, he has a liver the size of a cow's head, lungs like hot-air balloons, and if you think his kidneys are abnormally hefty, you should see the size of his …" That's enough of that.
3 min: Essien sparks panic in the Tottenham defence, or Benoît Asosu-Ekotto at least, with a low ball into the box. The defender attempts to leave it to Gomes, but ends up thwacking the ball away as a few nervous screams come from the terraces behind the goal.
4 min: Ferreira again nicks the ball away from Bale and Spurs giving Chelsea a little too much time in midfield.
6 min: Lovely break from Spurs, started by Bale on the edge of the Tottenham box and ended by Pavlyuchenko on the edge of Chelsea's, with a gorgeous flick from Modric somewhere in the middle. A chance wasted, really.
7 min: Essien volleys in a first-time effort from 30-odd yards that looked so ludicriously optimistic it wouldn't have been out of place on Turin Brakes' first album but had Gomes dropping sharply to his right to save.
9 min: Again Gomes is in the action, taking another regulation claim from Kalou's (I think) long-range effort. Chelsea have started very well here, Tottenham not yet up to speed, with or without the ball.
10 min: "For all 'Arry's lack of tactics I would point out how interesting it is that he gets both wide men to track back to the box and attack from deep as well as defend," writes Charles Harris. "Harry gets his players to really run. If Tottenham could hold the ball long enough I'd let you know if the Chelsea wide players tracked back as well, but i'd suggest not..." Indeed the home side have been too loose with possession thus far, Modric guilty on a couple of occasions.
11 min: Dangerous free-kick here after Dawson clatters Anelka … a good 35 yards out …
12 min: … clumped well wide by Ivanovic.
13 min: Bale puts Ferreira onto the seat of his pants for the first time, but then overhits his cross. Eventually the ball works its way back across to the Welshman, but he flails his right-foot effort high and wide.
GOAL!!! Tottenham 1-0 Chelsea (Pavlyuchenko 15) And what a goal it is! Defoe – perhaps a touch offside – gets space on the left, finds the Russian on the edge of the box. His first touch is so clever it deserves a PhD, taking him away from two defenders. The second is emphatically smashed past Cech at his near post. A cracking finish.
17 min: Hard to say that was against the run of play, as Spurs had just started to come into it. "Clearly Redknapp's plan is off the rails," says David Jacques. "Spurs were obviously trying to fall behind early and then come back, like they always do. An early lead? This looks bad for them."
19 min: Essien introduced his studs to Gareth Bale's shin – a nasty challenge that could've seen some serious leg-knack. Bale's leg was planted, the impact forceful, but fortunately for all concerned he's back on his feet pretty sharpish.
21 min: Modric snaps away at the heels of Anelka and eventually wins a free-kick from Ramires. The little Croatian has really upped that aspect of his game over the past 12 months.
22 min: Chelsea have seen more of the ball, and have probably had more territorial advantage, but Spurs have carried far more threat in and around the box. Although, as I type that Ramires slides in a cross, and Kalou, stretching at the near post, can't quite help the ball in.
24 min: Pavlyuchenko trips Essien. From the free-kick Dawson is all alone 10 feet up in the air to head away.
25 min: Kalou tests Gomes with a header after Bassong's poor clearance. Chelsea have certainly responded well to going behind.
26 min: Lennon fails to put Pavlyuchenko through at one end. Anelka wins a corner at the other …
27 min: … again headed away by Dawson. It's pretty breathless stuff at the minute, which I'd suggest suits the hosts more than the visitors. Have a feeling someone will soon describe this as "What The Premier League Is All About".
29 min: Superb defending from Assou-Ekotto as Ferreira threatened to get round the back.
30 min: Tackles flying in here. Hutton hammers into Ramires (a second slower or an inch higher and he'd have been in trouble), then Bale is tripped by Ferreira. Pavlyuchenko blazes wide from the free-kick.
33 min: A fine, fine tackle from John Terry as he's exposed one-on-one against Defoe.
34 min: The first booking of the game, and it's Assou-Ekotto who finds himself in Mike Riley's notebook. Malouda to take the free-kick …
35 min: … flicked inches wide by Kalou. Gomes was scrambling, but beaten.
36 min: Lennon does his Speedy Gonzalez act down the right flank and fizzes in a low cross. Pavlyuchenko is ready to tap home, but Cech drops down smartly to claim.
38 min: "What is up with those weird red marks on Gareth Bale's legs?" ponders Joe Gibson. "Any ideas?" Some sort of injury support. Tennis players use them all the time. And here's Rafael Nadal's legs to prove it.
40 min: A vital, diving interception from Bassong as Anelka gets a sniff of goal. Gomes punches away the resultant corner.
41 min: Chelsea very much on the front foot now, though without really cutting Spurs open.
42 min: Chelsea have the ball in the net, but Anelka is well offside and the goal is correctly disallowed. The striker new it as well, didn't even try to look surprised.
44 min: Bale does Ferreira once more, but yet again his delivery, like that of the Portguese airport who put your luggage on the wrong flight and then promise to bring it to you first thing in the morning but then turn up at half four without a word of apology despite wasting a day of your holiday when you were only away for a couple of days anyway so it wasn't like you had loads of time to spare, isn't good enough.
Peep! Peep! Peeeeeeep! Mike Dean brings a jaunty old half to a close.
Half-time email dept.
"Here's a recent Guardian article explaining the Kinesio tape on Bale's legs," writes the helpful Huw Alexander.
Half-time Twitter dept.
"Chelsea fan trying to be stiff upper-lipped abt continuing slump," tweets @JNRMSY. "Tough given the toothlessness tho. Zero support for Anelka."
Half-time snack dept. Peanut M&Ms would you believe.
Half-time sub dept. Drogba replaces Mikel.
Peep! Half No2 is go!
46 min: Part 1 of a new series I'm calling: A 1000 Other Uses For Kinesio Tape. "Alan Hutton has been rocking the thigh tape during matches as well," writes Adrian Cooper. "I just figured he had a deep-fried Mars Bar stashed up his shorts in case he needed a mid-match snack."
47 min: Modric, to Lennon, to Defoe and a sweeping drive just wide of Cech's right-hand post.
48 min: Terry overhits a pass down the line. Goal kick. "Re: your Guardian profile photo..... was that taken recently in the Guardian offices?" ponders Dave Bell. "I'm presuming the hat and beard are due to the freezing conditions at your place of work, because the likes of Smyth and Bull spent the building's entire heating budget on Flamin' Hot Monster Munch, Super Coffee and Target Market Energy Drinks." I presume you mean this one, rather than this one. It's because I'm pitching at the trendy Hoxton kooky-hat wearing crowd on Twitter. Whereas on official Guardian pages I'm going for the slightly-frightening possible ex-con market.
50 min: Little change in pattern here. Chelsea press rather ineffectually, Spurs glimmer with threat on the break. Modric shins a volley wide from the edge of the box after a poor Terry header. Might have done better there.
52 min: Malouda is cutting inside from the left wing, Kalou doing likewise from the right, leaving Cole and Ferreira as Chelsea's only wide outlets. And at the moment, it's not proving enough, despite their dominance of possession.
54 min: Fine save from Gomes! Drogba drives an effort at goal from 25 yards, but the keeper turns it wide. Corner …
55 min: … and another fine save! Tottenham fail to clear, the ball is delivered back into the box and Palacios gets his defensive header completely wrong, forcing Gomes to tip the ball acrobatically over his own bar.
57 min: Malouda is struggling to get the better of Alan Hutton and he's given away a needless free-kick to end another Chelsea attack. One-way traffic at the moment, though.
59 min: Peter Crouch replaces Jermain Defoe as Redknapp looks to help his side hold onto the ball. At the moment, it's just bouncing back from the front two.
61 min: Lennon and Defoe almost get themselves in a tangle, but the winger brings the ball away before Essien emphatically ends any hope of a break.
63 min: Palacios does superbly to find Pavlyuchenko, peeling away from the centre-halfs. It's a tough ball to control, though, and his touch is heavier than Paul Weller's soul*. Cech collects.
* These musical references working for anyone? Oh …
64 min: Real chance for Spurs, but Hutton seems almost frozen by indecision such are the options. In the end it's a dinky little cross that Chelsea clear too comfortably.
66 min: Lennon finds Pavlyuchenko with his cross to the edge of the box, but his chest control again isn't quite good enough. Another Chelsea break ends with a cross plopped into Gomes's hands.
67 min: Kalou trundles off after a frustrating afternoon. Daniel Sturridge comes on.
GOAL!!! Tottenham 1-1 Chelsea (Drogba 70) A long ball over the top isn't dealt with by Dawson, under pressure from Drogba, and there's split second hesitation that allows the striker in. He smashes it towards Gomes's face and the keeper can't get enough on it. The ball pops over his head and drops apologetically into the net.
72 min: So that sets up what could be a very, very tasty last 20 minutes.
73 min: Essien goes into the book for a pretty inoccuous challenge on Modric.
75 min: Chelsea win a corner …
76 min: … flicked on by Drogba and superbly cleared by Assou-Ekotto as the goal gaped for Sturridge. White Hart Lane expected the net to ripple there.
77 min: Here comes Frank Lampard for his first appearance since August. Malouda makes way. And Robbie Keane replaces the increasingly peripheral Pavlyuchenko for Spurs.
78 min: Comedy capers on the edge of the Chelsea area as Essien, Lampard and Ivanovic fail to clear. It gives Lennon a sight of goal, but there's little conviction in the shot. Well wide.
80 min: Lampard gets a whack from Palacios. Spurs labour to clear the free-kick, but Essien can only shank his effort wider than Mansun's open space. OK, I'll stop now.
82 min: Bale wins a corner, Tottenham's first …
84 min: … comfortably cleared, before Palacios's sloppiness allows Anelka to nip in and surge away. Gomes is quickly off his line to smother the threat.
85 min: Crouch flicks on and Keane is just beaten to the ball by Cech. His long clearance almost puts Drogba away, but Mike Dean reckons the Ivorian is the guiltier party after a tussle with Bassong.
88 min: Cole catches Palacios, whose had a fair few whacks today. This looks like being his last, with Sandro ready to come on.
89 min: Assou-Ekotto lumps it away, Bale skitters after it, Essien appears to trip him … goal-kick. Big sigh of relief from the Chelsea dug out.
90 min: Four mins added time to be played.
90+1 min: PENALTY! Gomes rugby tackles Ramires, flattens him from Drogba's flick on. No doubt about it. Drogba himself to take it.
90+2 min: SAVED!!! Gomes blocks low to his left! Poor, poor penalty – perfect height for the keeper, only a yard or two off centre. Redemption for Gomes.
90+4 min: Drogba clatters Hutton and gets a booking as the game ends in ragged, rampaging fashion. Free-kick to Spurs …
90+5 min: Bale curls it a yard or so over from 35 yards. And that should just about be that.
Peep! Peep!! Peeeeeeeep!!! All over.
Right, that's it from me. The way that played out both sides will feel slightly irked that they've failed to bag three points. Thanks for all your emails. Stick around for Kevin McCarra's match report. Cheerio.