Now weâ€™re in dreamland. Arsenal and Chelsea vanquished in the space of four days? No-one believed it possible, as they trudged away from Wembley a week ago, searching inwardly for the reasons why Portsmouth, and not Spurs, would be in the Cup Final.
It has been a hell of a week, thatâ€™s for sure â€“ one that will be long remembered. After the backs-to-the-wall heroics against the Goons on Wednesday, this performance against Chelsea was something else entirely. The eventual scoreline of 2-1 is some sort of travesty, because quite frankly the League leaders could have been seriously embarrassed, had our finishing come anywhere near to approaching the quality of the rest of our play.
We were at Chelsea from the start, and it was sustained right to the end. Hardly a pass was misplaced. There was an attacking verve to the Spurs play that belied aching limbs and fuzzled minds. Gareth Bale was magnificent once more â€“ to be honest, he is every time he crosses that line at the moment. Michael Dawson was colossal (again), Sebastian Bassong next to him was Ledley King with knees. In midfield, the pairing of Huddlestone and Modric was outstanding â€“ work rate, positional sense, craft on the ball, just sheer quality.
I mention those players, but in truth there were 11 guys out there that put in 10 out of 10 performances. Maybe 9.5 out of 10 for the chances squandered. A friend of mine that has been going down the Lane since 1970 said he canâ€™t think of a better performance against a top side in all that time. We just never gave the ball away.
And what about the supporters? The noise was incessant. I had a sore throat long before half time, although that was partly through shouting my disbelief at referee Phil Dowd concerning certain decisions. There had seemed a nailed on penalty when Bale was body-checked, which Dowd turned down, but within a minute we had our penalty anyway, when the ball struck John Terryâ€™s arm. Our record from the spot is atrocious â€“ so bad that penalty taking duties have gone all the way around the team and are now back with Jermain Defoe. He did what we prayed he would and smashed it, sending Petr Cech the wrong way.
When Bale doubled the lead before half time after turning Ferreira inside out, there was absolute euphoria. Could we maintain, was the question at the interval. After 120 energy and spirit sapping minutes at Wembley on Sunday, followed by the emotion of a North London derby on Wednesday, it was quite reasonable to expect the team to fade. It didnâ€™t happen though, and the fans were with the players all the way. This week has brought the whole club closer together.
In the second period Defoe was thwarted by Cech when through on goal, Pav missed two glorious chances, and Bale rolled a shot narrowly wide when Cech was exposed again. Chelsea never really seemed to get a foothold in the game. It was tempting to think that they were shell-shocked by the atmosphere and the fact that they found every single man in white in fabulous form.
John Terryâ€™s red card fitted perfectly with his role as pantomime villain throughout, and Lampardâ€™s late goal was undeserved, but thankfully didnâ€™t cost us. It was bloody annoying though, giving the scoreline a respectability for Chelsea that was laughable. So, it seems we have blown the doors off the title race this week, with two of three protagonists coming to grief in N17. And we get the chance to do both of them a favour next week when we go to Old Trafford. Now that would be a famous threesome….
Star man: They were all magnificent, so this week it can go to the Spurs fans, who have responded to FA Cup disappointment and the arrival at our door of two top quality teams and bitter rivals, with renewed passion for their football club
Best moment: Probably the second goal, scored by Gareth Bale. Any number of situations in the second half might have surpassed it, had the finishing been better. No doubt about it, a third goal would have blown the roof off.
Tactics: The usual 4-4-2 with Modric partnering Huddlestone in theÂ middle, Bale and Bentley wide; Defoe and Pavlyuchenko up front. High tempo passing, continuously feeding Baleâ€™s left-sided darts.
Chant of the game: â€œHeâ€™s off the pitch, heâ€™s f*cking your wife, heâ€™s off the pitch, heâ€™s f*cking your wifeâ€ Dedicated to you, JT……….
Opposition fans: Couldnâ€™t hear them above the constant cacophony of the home support. They probably didnâ€™t know what hit them.
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