Tottenham Hotspur: Chelsea Draw Sees More of the Same from Spurs and Villas-Boas
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It was a mix of often exquisite football sparkling amid tension-fueled slip-ups and lapses in concentration, the gamut of honest emotional responses sullied by a deceiving, and shameful, willingness of both sides to go too easily to ground (the latter aided by a pandering, sorry excuse for a referee).
These London rivals gave close to their all in attempting to strengthen their claim for a Top Four place. It was what it was, and after all of that, not much has changed, with both still in the same positions.
For Tottenham and Andre Villas-Boas, the same inconsistencies and inadequacies that have undermined their push for a return to Champions League football—and the qualities that have inspired it—were on full display.
Up front, Emmanuel Adebayor shone brightly with his all-round work ethic and marvelous contributions to both Spurs goals. The reasons why the light of his talent has been so dulled for the majority of this campaign remain difficult to comprehend.
The Spurs defense were, in almost equal measures, heroic and bungling. None epitomized this more than their captain Michael Dawson. His mistiming proved partly responsible for Chelsea's goals, but he somewhat redeemed himself with some typically full-hearted blocks and tackles that helped keep Spurs in the game.
Those in between (and around) these two positions fared less definitively.
Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon intermittently featured, but this will count as one of the much-feared wing pair's quieter nights. Along with Adebayor, it was left to the tireless Lewis Holtby and Kyle Walker to instigate much of Spurs' attacking threat.
Even then, it was a largely fruitless effort on the part of the latter two, tempered by their defensive duties in attempting to check Chelsea's menacing forays forward.
Elsewhere, the likes of Scott Parker, Tom Huddlestone and Benoit Assou-Ekotto did not compare favorably to counterparts like Juan Mata and Ashley Cole. Yet they did not go away losers at the home side's expense either.
As uninspired as they have generally been, it is hard to fault Tottenham's effort these last couple of months. Chelsea fans taunted them with a chant of, "You've only got one player," but Spurs would not have persevered to an ongoing six-match unbeaten run in the league if Bale alone was performing.
Adebayor's goal emphasized their desire to get at opposition teams and the intelligence which characterizes Spurs at their best. At times, their play at both ends was ugly—exacerbated by Chelsea's near-constant hounding of them—but seldom was it not underpinned by an admirable grittiness to restore some beauty at the next possible attempt.
In contributing to the good and bad, Villas-Boas has chopped and changed players, switching and adjusting formations in and out of games.
You could find reason to fault certain decisions in this match (still no Tom Carroll?!?), but when it came down to it, it was the Portuguese's decision to introduce Clint Dempsey and Gylfi Sigurdsson that saw Spurs regain some late impetus—with the latter's goal earning what might prove an invaluable point.
Both Villas-Boas and his players are doing just enough to get by right now. It might not prove enough, with their fate out of their hands after Wednesday's draw.
But, with two fixtures remaining, they are still in contention. If they finish in the Top Four, Spurs will not care how they got there.
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