Chelsea 1-2 Arsenal; the Good, Bad, and Ugly

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Hey gang, sorry for the late blog but well, I have the day off and I slept in having consumed much Scotch last night celebrating both St. Andrews Day and an Arsenal win. I passed out with the radio on and dreamed of big waves, surfing, and an Obama inauguration. Odd…

Since I hate writing match reports I’ve decided to just link a few of my favorites here. Plus, I’ve noticed that the blog has gotten interminably long as of late and I thought I’d save a few lines. The fact that Arsenal have struggled so much and I want to analyze them out of those doldrums has almost certainly led to the 1000+ word posts of late, but I promise to try to keep those to a minimum from now on. Pinky promise.

Match Reports

ESPNSoccernet.com: “Robin van Persie put Arsenal back into the Premier League title race with a superb second-half double in a 2-1 victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.” Probably the most detailed match report you can get your hands on because they have stats, a heat map (under the “Match Action” Section), the preview, their liveblog, AND MUCH MORE!

A Cultured Left Foot: “Rather like the pills and potions I have consumed, the win does not represent the cure all to the season, more it suppresses the symptoms to help you return to some sort of normality.”

The Arsenalist: Always has the freshest match highlights for you to download and watch over and over and over!

The Good

Well, we beat Chelsea, didn’t we? As I said in the comments yesterday I’d rather beat Chelsea at the Bridge than Stoke at the Brittania any day: if I had to choose. Moreover, with the win Arsenal move back into the Top Four and are now only 7 points off the top. Hopefully, they will use this win to galvanize their spirit and we’ll see more performances like this for the rest of the season. Of course, I think I said damn near the same thing after the Man U win and they came out with two very poor performances. The boss puts it like this:

We have beaten Manchester United and Chelsea, we know we can beat everybody now and we know we have to keep that focus in every game. We have to get in the same state of mind against the so-called lesser teams who are as good [as anyone] now. We know that if we take our foot a little bit off the pedal we can lose everywhere.

The win is especially great since there at the 59th minute I was going to write something about this being the lowest I’ve felt as an Arsenal fan. Chelsea were beating us at our own game. They were passing the ball around with aplomb, bossing the midfield, and getting shots pretty much whenever they wanted. Fortunately, like Arsenal, they lacked teeth up front or we could have seen a 3-0 scoreline by the 59th minute. And then…

You know, I often pick on Robin van Persie but not today — his touch on both shots was sublime, his finishing clinical, and I especially love the fact that on the first he didn’t hesitate for a moment. He knew he was offside but he just powered the ball into the top of the net anyway. I literally held my breath waiting for the 1-1 to appear on the television, it was so unbelievable, so audacious, so… van Persie. He picked up goals number 6 and 7 and hopefully can carry that audacity into the next game.

Cesc too had a good game both as captain (he’s now 2-0 as captain!) and as midfield general. As I was watching the game it looked like Cesc was more helping Denilson out with the defensive duties than getting forward but the heat map shows a much more “box-to-box” performance. Not only that, I sensed that he tried to lift the team there at the start of the 2nd half: he was expending a ton of energy trying to win the ball back from them. A great performance by the captain.

Cesc’s complete performance is what allowed Denilson to get forward to lay on the assist for van Persie’s first goal. Denilson now leads the team in Assists (in the Premier League) and is the top Arsenal player in the Actim Index. Stats don’t tell the whole story but they certainly paint a picture of a better player than I have given him credit for as of late. So, credit to him for a good game yesterday.

Clichy had, well, the game of the season for him so far. I went so far as to suggest that maybe he should replace Song in the midfield, he was the one out there stepping in to collect loose balls, he stepped up to control Bosingwa, and he put in some amazing runs through the midfield. A great performance and if Arsenal don’t buy a defensive midfielder I have to say “Give Clichy a Chance.”

Also, I want to give a shout out to Djourou who made an error, collected himself, got back up and fought on. It was crucial to the win that we had all our players defending well at the end of the match and a normal man might have crumbled under the pressure of that own goal. Great job Djourou.

The Bad

Adebayor had a rough game, but only because Ivanovic’s big, physical presence kept the Togolator in check. Well, ok, maybe he was rusty having just come off an injury.

Scolari had an amazing rant after the game, demanding that the ref apologize for what he saw as two blown calls. Do you know how many blown offside calls I have seen in my time watching Arsenal? Come on Phil, it happens. I guess I can’t really blame him because I’d feel the same way if the roles were reversed but still, I have to stick the knife in somewhere!

The Ugly

It would be easy to single out Almunia’s throw-in that led to the own-goal, Terry’s two-footed lunge that should have been a straight red, or Bendtner’s pink boots but I won’t — even though those were all equally ugly.

Instead, I reserve the rest of the column for the Chelsea fans and their hateful, disgusting, classless chant directed toward Arsene Wenger. I don’t understand how the FA can allow this calumny to go on at a time when they are stamping out chants like the Yids chant at Tottenham. I’m no lawyer but if it’s possibly a criminal offense to chant “Islamophobic” songs about Mido, then how on earth are supporters allowed to get away with calling Arsene Wenger a pedophile? Yet there they sit, classy as ever, teaching their grinning young children to impugn a great man’s character with the most vile slander.

You’d think with all his billions, Roman Abramovich could buy better supporters.

Final Thoughts

Well, crap, the column got longer! I honestly tried to focus in on just a few things but I guess I’m just a bit of a Chatty Cathy right now. Who wouldn’t be if they had the day off, got up late and their favorite team got a famous win against a hated rival on their home turf?

It’s going to be a crazy season, folks, let’s hope Arsenal hang on and nip it at the last game…

Tomorrow, Arsenal take on Burnley in the Carling Cup and Wenger has promised to play the Young Ones + Silvestre. I can’t watch it live but I will be at Doyle’s after work to watch the recording, stop by and raise a pint because right now it’s goo goo goo to be a goonah!

Chelsea v. Arsenal; liveblogging the 2nd half

The first half wasn’t really that bad. The score line is a bit harsh on Arsenal and especially Djourou, but I really liked that he took a moment after the goal and snapped right back up. The rest of the squad need to do the same, right now. One thing that I have noticed in all my sporting years is that champions come out and play hard in the second half, some commentators call it “finding another gear.” We saw that often with the Invicibles, even a great team like that had moments like we saw in this first half but they always responded in the second half. Chelsea will certainly be aware of this and will come out swinging at the start of the half. Arsenal need to keep their heads up, not get frustrated, and play their game. They are making chances, they have to believe that something will come of it.

Also, Nasri needs to defend Bosingwa further up the pitch — he’s abusing that side and putting extra pressure on Clichy and Clichy doesn’t need any more pressure.

46′ — Well, they are playing hard but back to back miscommunications with Adebayor won’t do much to endear him to his detractors.

51′ — You are seeing an absolutely clinical performance by Chelsea right now. They have sucked the life out of this Arsenal team and are picking apart the defense at will. Cesc is nearly invisible as the Chelsea midfield dominates.

56′ — I don’t think I’ve ever seen an Arsenal squad look this ordinary. Come on boys, you’re the Gunners!

59′ — Looks like Wilshere is warming up. Well, sure, it’s not like Nasri and … NO WAY!!! van Persie is yards off-side and yet Mike Dean rules that the ball came off A. Cole. 1-1 to the Arsenal. Well, I’ll be damned, that’s a harsh call on Chelsea, the Gunners need to really step up now.

61′ — Terry with a two-footed challenge, good yellow.

62′ — now it’s Chelsea who look discombobulated, free kick to Fabregas flicked by Adebayor and falls to van Persie. Well, well… 2-1 to the Arsenal.

65′ — My dog is deaf, Matt! Adebayor is frustrating the hell out of me right now, and I’m probably his biggest fan. Nasri is defending well suddenly, maybe someone had a chat with him.

68′ — Clichy with some brilliant defense in midfield and a great run earns Arsenal a free kick in a dangerous spot — van Persie hat-trick?

70′ — Hey… why isn’t Clichy put in as holding midfielder? Probably a dearth of left-backs it the only reason, he could hardly be worse than Song and reminds me a lot of Flamini.

73′ — Chelsea are getting tetchy, John Terry just elbowed the back of van Persie’s head to clear him off Cesc’s pass.

76′ — AH HA! Clichy has been assigned to cover Bosingwa and is doing a much better job of it than Nasri. This moves Nasri over to the middle of the park where he seems more creative.

79′ — I agree Barnaby, I’ll be happier if the score line is 6-1…

80′ — Ivanovic has been doing a great job harassing Adebayor. Nothing getting past the big Russian. Song, too is having a decent game defensively.

83′ — Adebayor’s had a rough game and is subbed by Bendtner. Mike Riley has to shoo him off the pitch. PINK BOOTS!

85′ — Clichy throws himself about and gets a yellow on Ivanovic… This is the start of my campaign: CLICHY FOR MIDFIELD.

89′ — Come on boys put this one to bed.

92′ — AHHHAHHAH Denilson…

94′ — Oh fuck off, the commentator just reminded me of Essien getting that last-gasp equalizer

95′ — Max Bretos just called Arsenal “truly dysfunctional” you can fuck off too Max, you useless cunt. — Crap, sorry, I just channeled Joe Kinnear there.

Final Thoughts

I’m sure we’ll hear non-stop hand-wringing and recriminations over that first goal and I’d be the first to admit that it looked like Arsenal got away with one there. And? So? I’ve seen plenty of teams get over on us over the years. Until they introduce goal line technology or T-Town Alex’s video replay that’s how the league works: sometimes you get screwed.

We’re also going to hear how Arsenal don’t deserve the win. Well, I could argue that Arsenal didn’t deserve the loss to Hull or Stoke, that’s how the cookie crumbles. Arsenal won.

HA!

2-1 to the Arsenal! And again, happy St. Andrew’s day.

Chelsea v. Arsenal; liveblogging the 1st half

Hey Joe!

Both teams are mostly being respectful, well, both teams except injured Joe Cole, who takes a swipe at Arsenal because they haven’t won a trophy since 2005.

People are always going on about the nice football Arsenal play but if you look at the last few years, who’s won the trophies? Know what I mean? I wouldn’t want to be playing for a team that didn’t win trophies.

Chelsea beware; Joe Cole is clearly angling for a January move to Pompey or Tottenham. Also, hey Joe, how many International medals do you have?

Arsene Sticks to His Guns

This will probably make a lot of you very ill, but, well, Arsene Wenger is already saying he’s not buying anyone in January.

People have not yet analysed what will hit society in the next 12 months and I’m quite proud that, after making £30 million last year, we’re in a strong financial position. We’ll try to make the same amount again. Yet, at the moment, nobody cares – they want us to spend £50-60 million. But we have stability. We have a stadium that is built, and a training ground, and a young and very promising team.

Okay, results are not as good as expected. But they’re not as bad as they have been. People speak as if this club has been in the Champions League continuously for 50 years. But it’s not true.

There’s a glimmer of hope in there, I guess, but I would put 100 to 1 against him buying one big name much less the three big names that people want. I used to think that Arsene was taking the fall for the club, that maybe there wasn’t any money and they were all lying, but I’m slowing coming around to the idea that Wenger is just doing it his way. I’m sure that the board is aware of and supportive of this fiscal austerity and in a sense, I am too, because it does make sense to run Arsenal responsibly. Still, it would be a huge shame not to play in the Champions League next year, hey maybe we can win the UEFA Cup? Joe Cole would like that.

ZOMG GALLAS TO TOTTENHAM

Is anyone taking this seriously?

Ok… breakfast is on I’ll be back for the kickoff.

0746 — I have squad info: looks like Sagna, Nasri and Adebayor are all in. Djourou also gets the nod over Silvestre. Interesting.

0751 — Oh hey, I forgot — happy St. Andrews day! I’ve taken tomorrow off so that I might indulge in a few spirits this evening. Hey if American Irish can have a drunken holiday, why can’t American Scots like me?

upgrade-u

0753 — the first of many “Upgrade” commercials, oh joy!

0800 — FSC has lost the feed — RUN THE UPGRADE COMMERCIAL!

1′ — nerves are jangling, the crowd is electric, A. Cole gets his first of many boos.

5′ — nervous moments at the back as Clichy puts a feeble cross out that is batted around at the edge of the box.

8′ — Almunia flapping at the ball, takes two punches to clear. Arsenal look very nervous at back.

9′ — First corner of the game goes to Arsenal and cleared well by Chelsea who counter quickly. Again Arsenal nervous but they keep the home team at bay.

13′ — damn, both of Arsenal’s “full backs” are streaming forward and it leads to another corner that fails to clear the first defender.

15′ — damn, I can’t keep up! Arsenal now applies some pressure and Cesc has a shot that is easily handled by Chech.

17′ — Matt comments on the corners and is 100% correct. Not only is Arsenal weak defending corners but they must be the worst team in the EPL taking corners as well. How often have we seen Arsenal fail to clear the first defender?  Twice today.  I think that’s why they do that little one-two corner between Cesc and van Persie; though that doesn’t work very well either. Something the boss needs to work on. Let Nasri take the corners!

24′ — Frank Lampard makes a great run, no one picks him up there, problems with communication at the back.

26′ — HOLY CRAP! A full footed clearance from Arsenal. That must be the first of the season.

28′ — Gallas is wrongly penalized for a great tackle on the edge of the box and the free kick is cleared by Song.  Bad call Mike.

30′ — Almunia… sigh that was a stupid mistake. Chelsea get an own-goal from Djourou who jumps right up after his mistake to get on with the game. God, I hope Djourou doesn’t go down the same path as Senderos.

33′ — Come on Arsenal! That was a crazy few minutes there where van Persie has a weak shot that is parried by Chech. If only Arsenal had a Pires, or an Eduardo, (someone who wants to score) that ball and the other one that Chech left out could have been converted.

40′ — Chelsea seem content to poke and prod and wait for an opening now. Arsenal too, seem to have taken their foot off tha gas. That own-goal may be catching up to them, phychologically. Come on Cesc, you’ve got to pull this team up now.

45′ — That’s it for the first half, Arsenal look really down right now, sluggish and disinterested, they need a spark right now from somewhere.  Mikel and Lampard are owning Cesc and Denilson right now, it’s not even funny. Maybe Wenger can call Beyonce, I hear she’s giving away Upgrades.

Second half available to the masochists here.