Chelsea 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur

by Ben Lyttleton

So that's what all the fuss was about then.

Chelsea introduced the latest member of their foreign legion to Stamford Bridge and George Weah did not disappoint as Chelsea continued an unbeaten run against Spurs that has now lasted ten years.

Weah had been on the pitch for half-an-hour before he headed Dennis Wise's pinpoint cross home from four yards out in the 87th-minute. The best players understand the sense of theatre in the game, and this denouement was befitting of a man whose hero status has now been extended to the King's Road.

Just when Gianluca Vialli thought that the profligacy that led to Chelsea converting one out of 32 chances against Bradford last weekend would haunt them again, the loan signing from AC Milan did in 30 minutes what the dropped Gianfranco Zola hasn't done since the opening day of the season. Score.

In contrast to this fairy-tale was the debut of Chris Sutton, whose confidence was obviously affected by easy misses against Sunderland - and it has set the tone for his whole campaign.

The two questions on everyone's lips at Stamford Bridge were: why didn't Vialli buy George Weah sooner? And what did the Liberian make of it all?

He (like everyone else) would have winced when the English firebrands Wise and Sherwood clashed, been enthralled by the sartorial Frenchmen Ginola and Leboeuf trying to out-dummy each other - but looked chilly when he made a begloved Premiership debut after 57th minutes.

His impact may not have been immediate but his ability was obvious. So was his threat, the lay-offs to fellow substitute Sutton, the pace and directness of his running on the ball and the ease with which he found space in a crowded final third. Even some of the Spurs players seemed in awe, Sherwood going to extreme lengths to shake his hand after fouling him.

Walker tried his best to gift the 33-year-old a debut goal, dropping a routine Harley cross under his own crossbar, but he recovered in time. Weah's trickery then set up di Matteo on the edge of the box, but the Italian's shot rifled into Walker's chest. He was at the centre of everything: his header released Harley, who volleyed across the goal, he set up Leboeuf to curl one wide.

And then he popped up to score the winner.

The visitors had the better of a scrappy opening. Campbell headed a half-chance just over from an early corner. Ginola released Armstrong with a delightfully-weighted pass but the forward thundered his shot over when crossing to Iversen was a better option.

But it was just the prelude to a period of Chelsea pressure, which began with Flo jinking past Clemence but seeing a vicious shot deflect wide off Carr. Lambourde's long-range dipper was parried by Walker, who was relieved to see Poyet hit the rebound into the side-netting.

Leboeuf then had a half-hearted claim for a penalty dismissed, when his shot from eight yards was blocked by a sliding Campbell. But it was no more worthy of a spot-kick than when Ginola tumbled under a challenge from Lambourde.

But Iversen had the best two chances of the first-half, first hitting a snap-shot straight at de Goey after the Dutchman spilled Anderton's 25-yarder, then chipping an effort into the keeper's chest when well-placed inside the box. With finishing like that, it's not surprising that George Graham is being linked with a move for Chris Sutton, who started on the Blues bench - or maybe Weah's 'friend' Ali Dia could be N17's newest recruit?

George Graham's side offered little in the second period - only threatening when Anderton's hopeful grubber nearly deflected over a prone de Goey, and when a late scramble saw the Dutchman trap the ball between his legs on the line and get kicked, and fouled, over it.

So, the names may be different, but the results stay the same. It was on February 10, 1990 - that's ten long years, spanning 21 games - when Spurs last beat Chelsea in any competition. John Bumstead, Peter Nicholas and Kevin Wilson have been replaced by Deschamps, Desailly and Zola. Where Bobby Campbell once was, now Gianluca Vialli reigns supreme. Oh, and the Champions League has taken over from the Zenith Data Cup.

And now Chelsea, who leapfrog over Spurs into sixth place, have a striker whose face adorns his country's postage stamps. The goal tops off a good week nicely.

Chelsea: De Goey, Leboeuf, Lambourde, Thome, Terry, Harley, Petrescu, Wise, Di Matteo, Poyet (Sutton 56), Flo (Weah 56).
Subs Not Used: Ambrosetti, Morris, Cudicini.
Booked: Wise.
Goals: Weah 87.

Tottenham: Walker, Carr, Campbell, Perry, Edinburgh, Anderton, Clemence, Sherwood, Ginola, Armstrong, Iversen.
Subs Not Used: Baardsen, Fox, Dominguez, Young, Nielsen.
Booked: Armstrong, Sherwood, Iversen.
Att: 34,969
Ref: N Barry (Scunthorpe).