Arsenal (0) – (3) Chelsea
The Emirates Stadium, London
At the start of the season, people were saying that this is the most open title race in years. Everyone of the Top Four could possibly win it, and teams like Tottenham and Manchester City could also threaten at the top.
But after today, it’s clear it’s a two horse race.
Chelsea had too much power, too much class and more importantly the ruthlessness to win football matches that we don’t have.
Credit to Chelsea, they gave us a footballing master-class and showed us exactly where we need to be if we want to even consider winning the title.
And while I was optimistic what a win would do for our title hopes, the performance from Chelsea clearly showed a gaping chasm in the level both teams are at. Chelsea are on another level, while Arsenal are simply miles behind.
The gap is now 11 points, and while Chelsea and Manchester United are going from strength to strength and their performances are getting better and better, Arsenal have hit a slump at a vital time of the season. That’s two defeats, no goals and some terrible defending.
We’re virtually in Liverpool territory now in regards to our title hopes.
Before the game, the biggest worry was that Chelsea would pick us apart. This game played into their hands – Arsenal will always be open and attacking at home, so all they had to do was sit back and catch us on the break. And their superiority in class showed at the end of the day.
Arsenal, as usual, had a lot of attacking possession but Cech literally had nothing to do. The frustrating thing was that instead of pulling the trigger, Arsenal wanted to play that one extra pass that would inevitably be intercepted by Chelsea or wasted by Arsenal. I can’t believe now many times Arsenal had half a yard of pace and could have taken the shot on, and Eduardo was particularly guilty of wasting the ball in key areas.
I realise that Denilson has been out injured, but he was extremely poor today. He lost the ball so many times, and took too many touches instead of releasing the ball early. I couldn’t believe it when Song was replaced instead of him at half time.
Chelsea’s goals were just typical Chelsea – classy, incisive and yet simple in execution. All the worry was the left side of our defence with our third-choice fullback Armand Traore replacing Clichy and Gibbs but it was from the other side where we were punished. Both of Chelsea’s goals in the first half came from simple crosses from Ashley Cole. The first was turned in expertly by Drogba (which always seems to happen against Arsenal) and the second was inadvertently scored in similar fashion by Vermaelen.
After that the game was pretty much over, barring an early goal from Arsenal. As time ticked away, Arsenal once again looked for that perfect goal instead of just putting their foot through the ball, and with Chelsea’s defensive power it was straight forward for the league leaders.
Arsenal had a couple of half chances but nothing clear cut, and Drogba hit the final nail in the coffin as he smashed a freekick late on.
Cesc Fabregas looked lost in the middle and as the second half went on his body language summed up how Arsenal supporters felt. In one instance, he lost the ball and then just gave up. Can you blame him? Fabregas has been extremely loyal to Arsenal but you wonder how much disappointment he can take. This was a crushing defeat and we never looked like winning this game.
Arsene told us that our young side has matured and were ready to beat Chelsea, but unfortunately I didn’t see a difference between today and last season’s defeat to Chelsea were we lost 4-1.
There was a massive gulf in class and quality then and it was the same today.