Arsenal 1-2 Cheslea; The Good, Bad, and Ugly

Match Reports

ESPNSoccernet: Poland international Lukasz Fabianski had a birthday to forget as his error gifted Chelsea a 2-1 victory in their FA Cup semi-final defeat of Arsenal at Wembley.

Sunday Express: DROGBA’S LATE GEM RUINS BRAVE ARSENAL’S CHALLENGE

Arseblog: There’s only one way to deal with a result like that and it’s to drink heavily. Well, there’s another way which involves a rampaging orgy of violence against anything in blue but experience has taught me that drinking is the best option.

Match Video

The Arsenalist:  still kicking out fresh jams.

Introduction

Arsenal is a club that relies on R&D for their success: Research and Development.  Chelsea is a club that relies on R&C: Resources and Checkbook. — FA Cup semi-final match commentator for Setanta.

I am disappointed. Most of the team gave 100% yesterday and truly did not deserve to crash out of the cup in that manner: beaten again by Didier Drogba, who, to be fair, is a huge diving cunt.

Moreover, it was so similar to the Carling Cup final two years ago that it’s not even funny: there’s the early goal by Theo, followed by the Chelsea boot boys getting away with things like shoving Arsenal players over, which raised tensions and nearly got Denilson sent off. All wrapped in a cellophane package of a club who have to buy cups the same way they buy and hand out flags for their “supporters” to wave around during the match. Once again it was a case of Chelsea’s superior checkbook making the difference and that’s hard to take.

Even still, I can’t really say that I’m surprised by the outcome, just like the Carling Cup final. No club can go into any match missing 4 of their starting back 5, and even missing several of their backup players and really expect to compete. So, it’s a testament to those players that they have competed over these last few weeks and no shame that Silvestre was beaten by a world class player like Drogba.

With that said, let’s get on with the show.

The Good

Kieran Gibbs was just brilliant. Whether it was going forward to garner the assist or his tireless defending at the back, Gibbs gave everything yesterday and proved himself to be a star for the future. His overlapping runs were a danger to Chelsea all day and they literally had no answer for him. I have to think that if he’d had a more active forward up front in Adebayor he would have been more effective going forward. As it was, he only notched one assist — then again, we only scored one goal!

At the back, for the second time in as many games, Fabianski made a huge error in going out of his box and Gibbs was called upon to perform the rescue. Make no mistake, this clearance was more than just youthful legs getting back, he also needed a pretty well honed defensive awareness to even be in position to make that save. And he’s done it twice now.

It makes Gibbs a bit of an enigma: is he more of an attacking player or more a defender? His current England captain solves that problem by playing him as the box-to-box midfielder. It’s tough to pigeonhole someone who is that talented but I can’t wait to see where Wenger plays him next year.

The Bad

Adebayor was a disgrace. Arsene’s late sub of Bendtner for Ade is all the proof Arsenal supporters need to see that Wenger was fed up with the performance he put in. Why else would you take off your most talented striker and put someone in who is not nearly as talented but is one of the  hardest workers on the team? Basically, Wenger crippled the team offensively when he brought Bendtner on, because he was that pissed at Adebayor. And the way Adebayor walked off the pitch and sat pouting in the stands spoke volumes about what he thought of being subbed.

In fact, Adebayor’s whole game was a huge mystery. Whereas in the last match he was offside at least 6 times, I don’t think he had a single offside yesterday. I have to wonder if Wenger didn’t dress him down after his chronic offsidedness and his reaction was a sort of petulant, lazy, temper tantrum. I’m obviously just speculating about that and Wenger will probably never say what happened, but it was a very strange game from Ade, a strange sub by Arsene, and a hideous reaction by the Togonator. We may yet need his skill before the end of the year so let’s hope Wenger patches this up enough to keep Ade interested until the end of the year.

I’m not going to rip Fabianski. He’s only 24 years old and his mistakes were the stuff that young keepers do. I like his aggressiveness in the area and hopefully he can learn to trust his defense a little bit more and not to come too far out of the box too soon. You know, keep his hands in the game so to say.

And finally, as for individual play, I thought Eboue had a nightmare. He looked kind of fat and slow and didn’t show any defensive awareness.

Maybe he wasn’t match fit? I saw him not tracking back on one play and pull up rubbing his back. Maybe he just never plays with the defensive practice team? I don’t know how else to explain his rather poor defense of what should have been an easy ball to deal with but that rather found Malouda who nutmegged Eboue and beat Fabianski to the near post. Folks are blaming Fab for that goal but I think he left the near post open because he saw Eboue had it covered. Eboue was 80% at fault for the first goal and whether it was because he wasn’t fit or because he was properly prepared, I don’t know.

That said, the big mystery of the day was the team selection. The back four selected themselves of course, but the rest of the team selection was just fucking bizarre. I like Denilson, he’s one of my favorite players, but he’s more in the mold of Cesc than of Gilberto. I like Diaby, he’s got so much potential, but he’s more like a Felliani than a Vieira. So, Wenger picked a super offensive side in Diaby and Denilson and Cesc in the middle, and three strikers up front (Theo is a striker). Of course, Wenger doesn’t see it this way and he explains the team selection thus:

Alex Song has played many games and I believe when you do that you need rest. I am not sure he would have stopped the ball in the air on the second goal, but it is difficult. We know they are dangerous on set-pieces and we are a bit short. Plus they have some tall boys who make it physical in midfield and we needed a player like Diaby to be capable of fighting against them.

As well I wanted to rotate it a bit because Nasri was sick last week and he looked a bit tired. We played with three strikers – Theo, Robin and Adebayor – and I couldn’t play with four when they had three in midfield.

The logic is sound but the application is completely wrong. Why not Diaby and Song at the back? Because you are resting Song??? For what? Tuesday’s game against Liverpool? Very strange.

And then, of course the huge question as to why Arshavin was not in the game to start or, at the least, subbed earlier. Denilson was having a poor game and Cesc was ineffective in the hole, so even if you don’t start Arshavin in the hole, at the least I would have brought him on for Denilson at the 60th minute, moved Cesc back and see if the Russian’s class could have sparked some life into Adebayor and company up front. I think Arshavin had pretty much Arsenal’s only shots in the second half, in his brief stint. That’s how much he could have changed the game, given a chance.

In the end, it’s easy to sit here and second guess the manager. The reality is that Arsenal were winning and ended up conceding two goals. Maybe our first choice keeper would have stopped those, maybe not. Maybe Sagna would have headed that over the top ball to Malouda out, maybe not.  Maybe Gallas would have been stronger in the challenge and had better wheels to catch Drogba on the second goal, maybe not.

It doesn’t really matter what I think might have happened, because in the end, Arsenal were simply outplayed.

The Ugly

If Wembley is the crown jewel of English football, then that jewel has a serious flaw in it; the disgraceful pitch. I honestly don’t know what they are going to do for today’s match. That pitch needs to be torn up, replaced, and allowed to settle in for about two years before another match is played on it.

I’d rather have a plastic pitch with gridiron football lines on it than one where the ball bumbles along like it did yesterday.

Conclusion

The game is over, Chelsea won and though we’re out of this cup, we’re not done for the season. Arsenal have Liverpool at Anfield on Tuesday and we need to regroup and focus our attention on keeping 4th place in the league. Then, in two week’s time we have a Champions League match against the Devils which is a series that Arsenal most certainly can win: especially a 100% fit Arsenal.

And yes, while it’s hard to go out to a bunch of classless cunts who celebrate a semi-final win by spraying each other with Champagne, as if they’d just won the cup, Arsenal have targets still to achieve and possibly even exact some revenge against Chelsea in the Champions League.

I honestly believe that this team has the talent and heart to win the Champions League. And if they can just get 100% healthy, they will be very dangerous.  I can’t wait to see it, but let’s start with a famous win at Anfield on Tuesday!

Injury update and Meetups

Now that I’ve gotten my Chelsea hatred off my chest I can focus in on some squad news.

First, a huge blow as Bacary Sanga has been officially ruled out of tomorrow’s match. I held off reporting this until I could have it confirmed as I don’t want to instill panic, but now that the Dot.com is reporting it, it must be true. Feel free to start panicking.

Wenger says the right thing here when he points out that what Arsenal lack in numbers they make up for in quality.

I must say that we are now short in numbers but in quality we are still strong and Gibbs has shown that. But he has as well some fitness problems which we have to assess tomorrow. He did have a little test today but not a very strong one.  We are now short because we many players out at the back. When you consider that Gallas, Djourou and Clichy together, and Almunia, are all out, that’s a lot in the defensive part of our squad.

Gibbs is having a late fitness test tomorrow and his fitness will basically decide the back 4. Will it be Big Head, Toure, Eboue and Gibbs? Or will it be Song, Toure, Eboue and Big Head? I guess we’ll know tomorrow. Either way, it’s funny to be a Gunner hoping that a former Man U player has the game of his life in our shirt. He’s a Gooner now, I suppose, so COME ON YOU SILVESTRE!

As for Clichy, again, don’t panic, because there’s only one news source on this, but it’s being reported by Arseblog and one other place that Clichy suffered a stress fracture in his back and won’t be back for at least 3 weeks. This news, if true, is tremendously sad and I am hoping for a speedy recovery for our first choice left-wing-back.

The rest of the squad you already know about. Arshavin is excited to meet his national team coach and Fabianski turns 24 tomorrow. Happy birthday Lucas, I hope you have a cracker!

Finally, if you’re in town, you can come on down to Doyle’s and catch the match. Kickoff is 9am (PST) and we could use all the Gooners in Tacoma to drown out that one annoying Chelsea supporter. You all know who I’m talking about because she screams “COME ON YOU BLUES!!” and “I LOVE YOU JT!!” all fucking match.

Alex and I are trying to come up with a song to sing to her if Arsenal win. Post suggestions below.

That’s it, see you tomorrow!

FA Cup Semi-Final; Red's Revenge

I hate Chelsea and I’ve hated Chelsea as long as I can remember.

I know that Gooners are supposed to hate Tottenham and I do get this sort of visceral reaction to Tottenham when we have to play them but with Chelsea it’s a pretty active hatred. I know it’s strange but it’s simply a function of when I came in to the game. When I first started watching, Arsenal were top of the world and Chelsea were in their place: a scrappy little club that never won anything.

One day, some filthy billionaire scumbag decided that he wanted to create a live-action video game team full of the most hideous cunts and superstars. Money was no object, Roman simply parked his T-84 in South London and started firing stacks of £50 notes into the waiting arms of anyone who would take them.

That Chelsea cash unsettled the premiership in a way that will ripple out for decades. But while he was spending freely it was insanely frustrating to be a Gooner. Any time Arsenal were linked to a player (Drogba, Essien, Shawn Wright-Phillips, etc) Chelsea came in with a bid of 10 times what Arsenal bid, then they offered the player a contract that no team living within their means could ever offer and, of course, the player was off to Chelsea.

When that didn’t work, when they couldn’t prise the player away from the team legally, they’d fucking tap them up: illegally unsettling Arsenal players by offering them huge contracts.

I tried to get over it. After all, that won’t last forever, Roman’s money is running out, Chelsea are in debt to their owner to the tune of nearly a billion dollars AND they have won exactly the same number of trophies that Arsenal have won over the last two years: 0.

But I still can’t get over some things. Like the Carling Cup final.

The Carling Cup final was supposed to be the moment that Arsenal’s youth policy trumped Chelsea’s buy everything policy. Theo Walcott scored his first ever Arsenal goal

And Abou Diaby nearly took John Terry’s head clean off

It should have been a perfect game, a perfect day, the perfect end to those youngster’s cup run. But Chelsea knew a trick or two, they knew that if there was any argy-bargy that Arsenal’s youth would play against them, and Chelsea’s English-ness would count in their favor. So, they send Obi wan Mikel in to kick up the midfield and when he kicked Toure one too many times, Toure lost his mind and kicked back. In the ensuing imbroglio Howard Webb sent off two Arsenal players (Adebayor! His favorite Arsenal player to send off) and one Chelsea player.

It shouldn’t have ended like that, but that’s Chelsea and that’s why I hate them. And that’s why tomorrow might not be a revenge mission for Cesc Fabregas but it will feel like revenge if we beat them, for me.

Because of all the teams in the Premier League, I love beating Chelsea. I love beating them and forcing their soulless owner to go out and pay £50m for David Villa so that he can keep his fantasy football team going.

Come on you GUNNERS!