Chelsea (2) – (0) Arsenal
Stamford Bridge, London
Well that is Arsenal’s title challenge officially over for yet another season.
Before going into the games against Aston Villa, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool we were still in contention, but now, even before the Liverpool game, we find ourselves 9 points behind Chelsea. Ever since we threw away the FA Cup our form and confidence has collapsed and we’ve draw one and lost two.
Arsenal have suffered defeat 6 times this season, twice to United, twice to Chelsea and once to Manchester City. If anything confirmed the fact that we were a Top 3/4 side then that was it.
Strangely, both the away and home games against United and Chelsea followed the same
At The Emirates, both Manchester United and Chelsea dominated their games against us and completely deserved their victories. We were simply outplayed and tactically they were superior. We had no answer to anything they threw at us and our defensive frailties were exposed.
But today was similar to the match at Old Trafford. We dominated possession, passed the ball well but couldn’t take advantage, and in the end, the clinical finishing (combined with naive defending) was our undoing.
It was the same old story. Lots of pretty passing, decent possession but lacking that killer instinct in the final third. Too many times we were in fantastic attacking positions but the final ball was lacking. With a better final pass, we could have scored 2 or 3 against Chelsea. If you play poorly then you can hold your hands up and admit the other team was better but today was particularly frustrating to watch – a decent performance but in the end the fact is we are just not good enough.
We might as well go through the goals.
Didier Drogba is dangerous at the best of times but to gift him two goals was… I don’t know, ridiculous? naive? amateurish? sloppy? I realise that Arsene doesn’t teach defending and quite honestly when they scored the goals they did I wasn’t disappointed like I usually was, I saw it coming. We concede the same kind of goals time and time again and it’s just frustrating that we don’t learn from it.
Gael Clichy is clearly targeted and almost every attack (in both the United and Chelsea games) went down their right hand side. And why not? Wenger doesn’t change things so once you see a team like United use a particular game plan then all you really have to do is emulate it. So how many Arsenal fans were shocked when the first goal was a set-piece and the second was on the counter attack?
The fact was that Chelsea didn’t even step out of first gear. Their win over us today was easy. We know they can defend so all they had to do was pick us off whenever they could be bothered. In the first half they punished us but in the second they just sat back and strolled to the final whistle. They forced us wide and we had to resort to crossing into the box, which never works for us, and they can cope with easily. John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho can defend crosses in their sleep.
Anyway, the first goal was from a corner. Malouda crossed from the left and John Terry won the header after he lost Vermaelen and the ball fell to the far post where Drogba tapped in from two yards. Drogba was amazingly unmarked (Song lost him) and we gifted Chelsea a simple goal.
I would like to know why we didn’t have a man on the far post though.
Then the second was on the break. Arsenal (like against United) had possession on the edge of the Chelsea box and Chelsea won the ball, played 2 simple passes through and Drogba waltzed into the area and smashed the ball into the net.
22 minutes, and the game was over.
After that, we threatened here and there but never really looked like scoring. There were a few skirmishes but you felt that if Arsenal had somehow miraculously managed to get a goal then Chelsea would just step it up a gear and kill off the game. In all fairness, it was a walk in the park for Chelsea.
There were some positive performances, from Diaby, Song, Vermaelen, Gallas and substitutes Eboue and Bendtner, but that’s not enough. Cesc was trying his hardest to make something happen and he carved out 2 or 3 real opportunities only for his team mates to waste them. Andrei Arshavin had a massive chance at 1-0 to equalise but once again, he let us down.
Arshavin doesn’t really give a shit anymore, and he wants to leave. Partly because he’s being played out of position, and partly because he doesn’t think Arsenal are real title contenders. You can see it in his body language, we strolls around and doesn’t care. Can you blame him? Maybe not, but I expect 110% from anyone who puts on an Arsenal shirt. Unfortunately, he’s not the only one who hasn’t been performing.
There’s the argument that the vast majority of the squad are overpaid and pampered kids who are being rewarded without having won anything. I personally don’t think that’s the main reason why we’re once again not challenging for the title, because players like Song and Diaby have really stepped up this season. The fact is we’re just not good enough.
And that is down to Arsene Wenger. The squad isn’t strong enough. I’ve never been one to shout about buying players (mainly because I don’t ever expect Wenger to spend any money) but unless we strengthen in key areas then we’ll always be also rans.
We don’t need a complete overhaul of the team, we just need to get rid of dead wood like Almunia, Clichy, Walcott and Bendtner. I don’t have anything personal against them (and I’ll always support them if they’re in an Arsenal shirt) but I just don’t think they’re good enough. They are all players who have been at the club for 5 years plus and not improved. Bendtner was okay today but Van Persie is the top quality striker we need.
I am pissed off with today’s game? Not really, we all knew winning at Stamford Bridge would take a miracle. I was hoping something special could happen, but we Arsenal fans watch the game week after week and know what to expect.
I just hope Arsene gets his act together and looks at defending more seriously because we won’t get far in the Champions League with defensive performances like that.