Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea -as it happened

Sturridge equalises after Adebayor gave Spurs lead in frantic contest

This is being billed by some as the battle to see who gets to be the top London club at Christmas, which suggests that some don't see it as having a bearing on the Manchester-domimated title race. Those some are probably right and, indeed, there is still a fair chance that neither of these sides will even finish the season as the top club from the capital, what with Robin Van Persie remaining strangely injury-free. On the other hand, in the event of the Manchester clubs catching the yips, Spurs and Chelsea could well take advantage, epecially if they bolster their ranks during January. Most likely, however, it's a tug-of-war for the fourth Champions League qualifying spot. Who's your money on?

In other news, Christmas is coming. Have you bought all your presents? Have you got a lot of football-themed delights? If not, might I point you in the direction of a Stoke City garden gnome? Or a Hull City dog bowl? Or how about what appears to be an artsy print of Steven Gerrard stamping on a liver bird? Or - and I implore you to try to top this - an official statue of Lionel Messi readying himself to defecate.

Team news:
Gareth Bale is back for Spurs and that's likely to spell trouble for Jose Bonsingwa. On the other hand, Aaron Lennon's enforced absence means Ashley Cole should have an opportunity to get to work on that vibrant young upstarta Kyle Walker - it'll be fascinating to see who comes off the best in that duel. Elsewhere, the decision to omit the excellent Younes Kaboul could be costly for Spurs. As might the inclusion of Mikel for Chelsea.

Chelsea: Cech; Bosingwa, Terry, Ivanovic, Cole; Ramires, Mikel, Meireles; Sturridge, Drogba, Mata
Subs: Turnbull, Romeu, Lampard, Torres, Malouda, Ferreira, Kalou.

Spurs: Friedel; Walker, King, Gallas, Assou-Ekotto; Modric, Parker, Sandro, Bale; Van der Vaart; Adebayor
Subs: Gomes, Kaboul, Pavlyuchenko, Bassong, Kranjcar, Rose, Livermore.

Ref: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire)

7.38pm: While Andre Villas-Boas is on Sky reiterating his support for innocent-unless-proven-guilty John Terry, Didier Drogba has taken a tumble in the warm-up and is now receiving treatment to his knee. He doesn't look comfortable. Might Chelsea have to resort to Fernando Torres earlier than hoped?

7.41pm: "paul, those Christmas gifts you've shown are good and all, but nothing says Christmas like a brand new fridge freezer," carol-sings Allan Crocker. "Especially when various Torquay United players have been roped in on the hard sell."

7.44pm: Word from White Hart Lane is it was a false alarm: Drogba will be fit to start.

7.50pm: "All I could think of when I read your last entry was 'what the hell is Wayne Bridge doing as an on-field reporter?" chortles Dan O. "Sorry... long day already."

7.55pm: Out stomp the teams, their assorted visages all emblems of focus and firmness. And the atmopshere sounds superb...

1 min: We have kick-off, and already the pace is frenetic. Also, as you can see from the photo above, Spurs fans are getting into tonight's riff with some choice offers outside White Hart Lane. Mind you, £5 for toielt roll sounds steep ...

2 min: An early indication of what a boon it is for Spurs that Bale is fit: he slaloms through the Chelsea defence and then unleashes a shot with his right-foot from the edge of the area. The ever-defiant John Terry hurls himself in front of it to block.

4 min: Top tip-tapping from Tottenham as they ping the ball about at pace, probing and keeping possession for a sustained period, without penetrating.

6 min: It's all Spurs so far, with the hosts full of pace, purpose and movement. Chelsea, sitting deep, have yet to cobble together any move of note. "If you were six years old, what would you least rather have? A banana, an onion, or a Waffle House hat?" inquires William Marzouk. "This is a video of parents breaking their kids' hearts with lame Christmas presents." I don't have time to vet that so it better not be porn, William.

GOAL! Spurs 1-0 Chelsea (Adebayor 8') Devastating simplicity from Spurs. Sandro dispossessed Sturridge in midfield and fed Bale, who hurtled down the left and in trademark fashion and sent a low cross towards the six-yard box, where Adebayor got to it before the hesitant Cech and sidefooted it into the net. A thoroughly-deserved opener for the hosts. Chelsea have been blown away in the first few minutes. can they respond?

10 min: "Boooooooooooooooooooooooooo" boo the home fans, telling us that one J Terry is on the ball.

11 min: A miss! A palpable miss! Friedel fumbled a fierce long-range shot from Mata and Sturridge beat King to the rebound but fired over from eight yards!

13 min: Chelsea can't cope with Spurs' pace. Ivanovic has just had to shove Bale over to prevent the Welshman from completing a one-two with Van der Vaart. That's booking for the defender and a freekick on the edge of the box for Spurs ...

13 min: Van der Vaart blems the freekick off the wall and out for a corner.

15 min: No hesitation this time from Cech, who rushes out of his box to head clear a long pass from Assou-Ekotto.

17 min: Chelsea are trying to get a handle on this game but they're no on the same level as Spurs at the moment. "To keep me from seeking out Christmas presents my mother used to tell me that she had positioned a piece of hair on each package and if any of the hairs had moved she would know I had been rummaging around up to no good," discloses Linda Howard. "And I believed her! Does that say more about her or about me?" So there were no Santa stories in your house?

19 min: Adebayor booked for an incompetent late tackle on Mata. And on that note, Spurs fans take to chanting "John Terry, you know what you are" very loudly. Chelsea fans retort with "there's only one John Terry", to which Spurs fans reply "boooooo" rather than "thank goodness".

GOAL! Spurs 1-1 Chelsea (Sturridge 23') Controversy here as Spurs claim a handball by Ashley Cole before the defender crosses to the unforgivably unmarked Sturridge, who taps into the net from close range. Replay shows that the ball did hit Cole's hand but only because Van der Vaart kicked it against it while attempting to intercept - no way should the ref have blown up for that. And lo, Chelsea are suddenly back in the game.

26 min: Spurs seek to regain their lead immediately, with the hitherto quiet Walker scorching down the right. His cross is repelled. But this game looks like it has plenty of goals to come ...

27 min: Chelsea have their danders up now, as exemplified by Meireles's conifdent shot from 25 yards, which Friedel held at the second attempt.

29 min:Drogba drives a shot against the crossbar! He controlled a Bosingwa cross from the right brilliantly on his chest after Walker misjudged it, and unleashed a left-footed volley from 10 yards that Friedel was never going to stop. In other newws, Lind Howard is back with an explanation. "Santa lasted only until my brother was old enough to start fostering that malicious streak that really glowed in the joy of spoiling Santa and the Easter Bunny. It's okay. The nuns at Catholic school would've been at it if he hadn't..."

31 min: Ivanovic is currently off the pitch having his hamstring massaged. Bosingwa has temporarily gone to centreback while Ramires slots in at right-back.

Chelsea substitution: Ivanovic off, Ferreira on. Bosingwa will stay in the centre of defence.

37 min: It's very even now, but Chelsea are doing well to prevent Bale getting a chance to run at Ferreira ...

38 min: Adebayor catches Mikel while trying to intercept. That's his second clumsy tackle since his booking: he needs to steady on or he'll not finish this match.

40 min: Superb control by Bale to retrieve an over-hit cross by Walker, but the Welshman is then crowded out, two Chelsea players wisely coming to help Ferreira.

42 min: Spurs could be in bother here: Ramires catches Bale late and gets booked for it but that may not compensate for the damage to Bale, who's down receiving treatment. That is Spurs' fans cue to heap scorn on ... John Terry.

45 min: Fine long-ball finds Assou-Ekotto loitering wide on the left. He whips in a cross that Adebayor control. The Togolese shoots on the turn but not with enough power to trouble Cech.

45 + 2 min: Bale is back on the pitch, by the way. But no such luck for Mikel, who picked up some manner of knack and has to be replaced by Romeu.

45+4 min: Ferreira stabs the ball behind for a corner just as Bale threatens to break loose. Drogba clears at the near post.

Half-time: Fast, frantic and, after a one-sided start, very even. Chelsea were swept aside early doors but the dynamism of Meireles and Ramires has enabled them to gain a foothold in midfield and reduce the influence of Modric and Van der Vaart. This game could go either way. Don't go away. Or if you do, come back soon. Please.

One of many incorrect emails: "Paul, it may be your opinion that the ref should not have blown for handball for the Chelsea goal, but you are wrong," bawls Paul Fairfoull (though that may not be his real name). "There is nothing in the rules that says handball has to be deliberate. Cole handled the ball and gained an advantage from it. Its hand ball, plain and simple." No, it is you who are entirely and embarassingly wrong. Read the laws of the game, specifically the bit under Law 12 (page 112) which states: "Handling the ball involves a deliberate act of a player making contact with the ball with his hand or arm." Is that clear enough for you?

47 min: We have resumption. "OK, fair enough on the handball rule - but nobody likes a smart arse," admits Paul Fairfoull, making the very point I made a moment ago.

49 min: Ramies, who's played well so far, produces a shot in perfect contrast to the rest of his performance, tonking way over from 25 yards.

Tottenham substitution: Neglected to mention that during the break Redknapp sensibly withdrew the ineffectual Van der Vaart and replaced him with Pavlyuchenko, who thus has huge opportunity to impress ... just before the January sales.

52 min: Ashley Cole is winning the fuel with Walker. He scurries down the left and then takes the young upstart out of the game and rolls the ball to Drogba, who has time to deliver a splendid cross on Sturridge's head ... but Sturridge inexplicably nods wide.

54 min: Drogba drops deep to get involved in a Chelsea build-up and then threads a sly ball through to the on-rushing Ramires, who finds himself one-on-one with Friedel. The keepers saves. From the resultant corner Terry gets to the ball first but Friedel is again to the rescue, blocking his header. But the threat from Chelsea is clearly growing.

57 min: It's gripping, helter-skleter stuff here. I say gripping, but Pavlyuchenko hasn't quite got to grips with it yet and thus fails to react quickly enough when Modric rolls the ball into his path in a good position.

59 min: Adebayor shunts the ball into the net with his shoulder ... but the whistle had already gone for offside agaisnt Gallas, who flicked it through to the Togolese.

60 min: Sandro heads away a Mata corner but it's rapidly returned into the Spurs box, which is indicative of the trend of most of this half. It's been quite a turn-around by Chelsea since Spurs' dominant opening. And here' sa pertinent point from Chris Oquendo. "Tell Paul Fairfoull that it's always better to be a smart arse than a dumb arse!"

63 min: After a nice bit of possession from Chelsea, they work the ball wide to Mata, who tries to wriggle his way inside the box but is thwarted by Gallas. "I don't get it: why doesn't anyone like a smart arse?" wonders Steve Johnson. "I mean, what's wrong with a well-ironed pair of pants?"

66 min: An increasingly rare sortie forward by Spurs ends with Scott Parker skipping his way into the box and delivering a cross that is cut out by Terry.

68 min: Spurs' resurgeance continues as they sweep forward and Modric has a shot deflected just wide. The Croatian then takes the corner, which Sandro meets at the edge of the six-yard box but sends his header wide.

70 min: Bale booked for a late tackle on Cole, who has performed very well tonight.

72 min: The impressive Ramires hurtles down the left and crosses to Mata, who rather wafts at the ball and it's deflected behind for another Chelsea corner.

74 min: The pressure from Chelsea continue and after Spurs try but fail to scramble the ball clear Sturridge opens fire from the edge of the box. Friedel saves, again needing two attempts to hold.

75 min: Could Fernando Torres be the man to keep Chelsea in the title race? He's warming up. Would suggest taking Mata off as he has exerted little influence so far.

76 min: How had Adebayor not been sent off? Already on a booking he has just chopped down Terry around half-way. Given that he perpetrated two equally inept fouls after his yellow it is feintly absurd that Howard Webb has not issued a red card. Meanwhile, Mata stays on as Drogba comes off for Torres.

78 min: Bale mis-controls. His game has dimmed after a bright start. Contrary to expectations, Ferreira has contained him well. "As a Gunner, I'm struggling mightily trying to decide who should win," confesses Thokmas Fucillo. "Maybe if Cech and Friedel simultaneously kicked a poor fan who happened to be passing by…."

81 min: Silly bu Sturridge. He had several team-mates in support but elected to attempt to beat Friedel from 35 yards and an acute angle.

84min: Brilliant bu Modric! A sublime pass after receiving the ball back from Pavlyuchenko presents Bale with a clear shooting opportunity from 18 yards. He blazes high and wide.

85 min: Good save by Cech to turn away a delfected piledriver from Sandro. From the scramble that follows the ensuing corner Gallas has a great chance but, after contorting awkwardly to meet the ball, directs it wide from three yards!

87 min: That should have been victory for Chelsea! Disgraceful defending by Spurs as Ramires is left in splendid isolation six yards from goal ... but the Brazilian spares them by heading wide!

88 min: If you want some visual action of tonight's proceedings, have a gander at this fine gallery.

89 min: After intense pressure from Chelsea, Romeu pokes a swirler narrowly wide from 20 yards.

90 min: Pavlyuchenko has done nothing since coming on and there was no way he was going to meet Adebayor's cross just now.

90+2 min: Terry saves Chelsea! Lovely play by Bale to release Adebayor, whose low sidefooter eluded Cech but not Terry, who performs a fabulous clearance!

Full-time: A result that will please Mancunians and Arsenalities and slightly baffle anyone who watched the match: how were their only two goals? Well, the answer is erratic finishing and a couple of excellent pieces of defending. It was a high-adrenaline, helter-skleter festive feast. And on that note, thanks for tuning in. And goodbye.

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