Arsenal 0 – 3 Chelsea
There is only one thing to say about yesterday’s game. Ouch. It was a nightmare of a game, and a massive statement from the opponents in regards to where the Premier League trophy will go at the end of the season. And for the 5th season running, it may not be the Emirates…
It was billed as the game that would define our season. Arsene went as far as to say it was our moment to show the world how far we had come. We could have closed the gap from 8 points to 5 points and have a game in hand. With our loss against Sunderland the previous week, yesterday’s game was very important not to drop points.
The good news before the game was that Gallas and Arshavin had both recovered from their mid-week knocks and were named in the starting line up, which in it’s entirity was:
Sagna – Gallas – Vermalen – Traore
Denilson – Song
Arshavin – Cesc – Nasri
And on paper, that was some line up.
The game started very well for us, in the first fifteen minutes / half an hour, we looked like we were the only team in it. We had total possession, and our midfield passing the ball around the Chelsea team like they weren’t there. The major issue in the first half hour was the form of Eduardo who looked really out of sorts. His first touch was terrible. His decision making was too slow and I really don’t think he held up the ball once. He had several very good positions, but was very ineffective with his role.
When playing in a 4-3-3, the man at the top has to hold up the ball, and unfortunately for him and for us, Eduardo simply couldn’t keep possession. It’s the difference between the two players, Eduardo and Van Persie. VP has learnt the role well, he’s learnt how to play with his back to goal and how to bring people into the game and Eduardo simply doesn’t have that in his locker. Not yet. Don’t get me wrong, Eddie is a class player, a goal scorer – but he isn’t match fit or mentally match fit either yet. I do expect him to improve as he has more time in the team – if you remember Van Persie at the beginning of the season, it did take him 4 or 5 games to really kick into gear.
Unfortunately for us, the game against Chelsea was a game too early for Eduardo. When we had our possession, I turned to my good friend Bob and said “if we don’t score now, they’ll hit us for a sucker punch” and after saying it I started wishing that the team would prove me wrong.
It wasn’t to be, and by half time, we were 2-0 down. It was shocking. It was like we wanted it so much, so much… that we lost our positional discipline and 2 goals just before half time, via two crosses put us in a very bad position. The first came from bad positioning, and an overloaded right back area which saw Ashley Cole swing in a cross for Drogba to bundle in and moments later, the same player, same cross and this time Vermaelen bundled in an own goal.
0-0 at 40 minutes and then 2-0 down at half time is painful especially when Chelsea had done nothing to deserve the lead. It was more a case of self inflected than it was anything else and we always seem to do things like this in big games, remember United earlier this season? 1-0 up, an own goal and a penalty? Exactly.
We put Walcott on for Song at half time – and went more attacking. We seemed to have a different tactic for the second half which seemed to involve crossing the ball more – the only problem being we would never really beat Chelsea in the air, so not really a wise tactic. We saw Vela come on for Eduardo and Rosicky for Nasri, but much of the same, and no end product. No real goals threats. Well, except the disallowed goal, which was disallowed because Eddie challenged Cech…? Hmm, exactly. Watching the replay I could see why it was disallowed, but from where I was sitting, it really did feel like the ref was on their side totally. But having spoken to other people, apparently he was as biased as I thought he was.
Arsene thought otherwise, he had a dig at the ref (we’ll touch on that in a minute). As the game continued, we went forward and forward and started leaving holes at the back. Chelsea started to have more possession and a free kick on the edge of the area was dispatched by Drogba to make it 3-0. Painful and annoying. The title is a fair distance away now, 11 points is a lot. Chelsea were efficient but I do think the 3-0 was fortunate and very flattering.
Let’s hear from Arsene…
On the score as a reflection of the game…
“The score is a very unfair reflection of the game, but it is the score and we cannot change it now. I believe that Chelsea had absolutely everything for them today and we can only deal with that now and respond in our next game. Because first shot on goal, they scored. Second cross, they score. And after it was difficult. After, it was a turning point by the referee that I personally believe is not a serious decision. Very unfair. How can he see Eduardo kicking Cech when it was a Chelsea player who stops him from controlling the ball? The 2-1 was a very important goal in this kind of game, and that was a big mistake by the referee.”
On the opinions of the TV specialists…
“I am used to definite conclusions from people who see the score and have great knowledge. But I believe, let people talk and let’s play tomorrow and go back to training and practice. And that’s always what you get in an excessive world. I personally believe from what I’ve seen, that was not the case. I never had the impression that we could not win this game we were quite on top for a lot of the game.”
On Chelsea’s physical strength…
“They are strong players, yes, physically strong players. But that is an impression as well. When a team is 2-0 up and just defending their half and play is on the break, it’s too easy to have that impression. I don’t share that point of view. I think they lost many balls today, where we couldn’t take advantage and made many technical mistakes where we couldn’t take advantage, and that has nothing to do with the physical impact of the game.”
On Chelsea’s title chances…
“I believe at the moment they are in a very strong position, but this team, for me, they can drop points. I’m convinced of that. That’s an impression I have.”
On Chelsea’s 11-point lead over Arsenal…
“Yeah, we are 11 points behind Chelsea. At the moment our title chase has gotten a big blow. Before we speak about ‘title’, we have to win games and you could see that the damage done at Sunderland was deeper, confidence-wise, than it should have been.”
On his impressions of how Arsenal played…
“If you come on Tuesday, I will give you an analysis of the game, physically, technically, and you will be surprised. But I cannot stop you from having your own conclusions. Because when Drogba pushes one away or Ivanovic makes three fouls and pushes people away against Villa, he looks much stronger. But you would be surprised if you see the final analysis of the game, they have an advantage in the impact, but that didn’t make them win the game today. In the play today, you will see them 60 percent behind the ball, and that has nothing to do with physical impact.”
On the potential penalty for Carlos Vela…
“I don’t know. On the penalty I think it was at least a foul on the edge of the box. If he gives a foul to Drogba when he scored, he cannot say it was not a foul on Vela. I just think that on the goal, he made a massive mistake, because you cannot say that one of our players kicked the ball out the hands of Cech. That means he has seen it, or he has not seen it. He can’t be wrong on the foul, but you cannot say to me that he saw Eduardo kicking the ball out of Cech when it’s not true. You see in the replay that Eduardo doesn’t even intervene. [The referee said] dangerous play, Eduardo kicked the ball out of Cech’s hand. ”
On the referee’s match experience…
“I do not want to talk too much about the referee. I think we make mistakes, and I just think the referee got the turning point of a game wrong. When you start a game in the second half and you are 2-1 instead of 2-0, it’s psychologically different. And he got that decision wrong. That does not mean that we don’t need to look at ourselves and ask why we conceded the goals.”
On possibly buying players in January…
“I believe I would rather have all of our players back. I am not in a mood tonight to say straight away after the game that I would buy players. We have to deal with the disappointment, and respond to that massive disappointment we had today and try to win our next game. It’s as simple as that.”
On Didier Drogba’s performances against Arsenal…
“He’s a good player. It’s funny because he doesn’t do a lot, but he’s efficient in what he does. You would be surprised by the number of balls he touched today. Jimmy Greaves was a great player, you still remember him. And Drogba is a great player, nobody can deny that. He’s very efficient. I think as well, at the moment he’s in a period where he kicks the ball and it goes in because you cannot tell me he wanted to kick the ball where he kicked the ball on the cross. He’s a good free-kick taker, but on the first goal, at the moment he has complete confidence and he doesn’t wonder ‘will I score or not?’. He just goes for it and he did very well. It’s a great goal, the first one, but it’s a goal of a striker in complete confidence.”
On Chelsea taking three points at Emirates Stadium…
“I feel today that the initiative they had to go home with 3-0… it’s well paid.”
On the idea that the title race is over…
“I do not think it’s over. I think we are fighters and we have to show that in the next game. The problem we have at the moment that we face is that people will not believe in us, so we have to make sure that lack of belief does not diminish our belief. And that’s where we have to be mentally stronger than we were until now. Because until now, we had some credit that we earned at the start of the season from the specialists, and then we a lose a game. And now it will be harder.”
Personally, we’ve got a decent defence, a decent midfield, but from this time last season, we’re without the departed Adebayor and the injured Bendtner, Van Persie and Diaby and that means we lack height. The players we are playing are all lacking match practice – Denilson, Walcott, Nasri, Rosicky, Eduardo and Vela haven’t played for ages and need games to get fitness. We can recover, but it’s a tough one. I kind of feel that I write a similar article at the end of each November, but it looks like it’s down to the 3 cups if we’re going to win a trophy this season.
And that starts with Man City away on Wednesday in the Carling Cup, which will see our youngsters take on the mighty Man City. We’ll see how many competitions we are in on Thursday, as it will be a tough game for the kids. In the FA Cup we’ve got West Ham away – which is arguably the hardest of all the third rounders….
Okay, time to think positively….
Actually, I’ll start tomorrow. Til then.