I'm not sure who is going to provide my ears with more propaganda this week. The Politicians, celebs and elites attending the Copenhagen summit (Meat free Monday), or Arsene Wenger, with his, 'everybody's fault bar ours' speech.
'We have nothing to be ashamed of. It all went Chelsea's way and I was not especially impressed with what happened on the pitch'
Sagna Gallas Vermaelen Traore
Song Fabregas Denilson
Nasri Eduardo Arshavin.
I guess the first thing Geoff and I were wondering was why Denilson and Song both got a start. One can be stomached, two in the same team leaves me wondering how much Wenger truly rates wonderboy Song. A perplexing midfield trio. Don't give me defensive stability either... Denilson does not offer stability against the power of Chelsea. The only way we were going to beat the scum from out west was to outplay them. For me, you play your best players...
Arsenal dominated the early possession, without ever really having a cutting edge. If playing football in the final third won you trophies, we'd be putting them in storage to accomodate an over crowded trophy room.
Chelsea gave us the first scare when Anelka capitalised on some sloppy play from Nasri. He broke into the box, Sagna got in between him and the ball and pulled him over. The ref decided it wasn't a penalty, Arsenal fans could breathe again... it was stone wall for most.
It struck me early on that our game plan was slightly flawed. We were hitting the wings and whipping crosses into a forward line with an average height of about 5ft 7. Kind of like me trying out punch Mike Tyson in a bar brawl.
The first warning signs that Chelsea were warming up came when Drogba managed to get a free header in our box. It did make me wonder what the manager talks about before the game? Do they highlight the oppositions strengths, or just gloss over them and hope certain players don't turn up?
Nasri had the first shot for Arsenal. He jinked inside Ivanovic and fired into the arms of Petr Cech.
Traore managed to get himself booked after a minor tussle on Frank Lampard... surprising after the ref allowed Mikel to get away with a cynical challenge on Eduardo.
Arsenal broke forward with Eduardo controlling the ball, he fed Arsh who cut tha ball back and played it into an empty box.
Then came the moment we were dreading. Terry passed to Cole... Cole crossed to Drogba... Drogba deftly flicked it in off the upright... the trio of filth combined to put Chelsea ahead. Gutting.
Soon after, the most hated player in football, Ashley Cole, whipped a ball into the box, the keeper and Vermaelen failed to communicate which lead to the Belgian slipping it into his own net. Poor defending from a team who continue to ship goals at an alarming rate. This was something I warned about earlier in the year... when the goals dry up, what happens?
The second half started, Song came off for Theo Walcott. Fair play, Song wasn't exactly having the blinder people were hoping for.
Arsenal started well. Eduardo forced a save from Cech, the ball deflected out, Arshavin took an age to shoot, the ball ended up in Cech's hands, Eduardo raised his foot above Cech's shoulder, he dropped the ball, Arsh scored. Goal disallowed. Arsene, when a footballer who is 5ft8 has his ankle higher than a 6ft5 keepers shoulder, the ref is going to blow up.
Vela and Walcott didn't really impress me. I think Theo is one of the most over hyped players at Arsenal and I really don't believe he deserved a massive great new contract based on what he's done for Arsenal. Vela hasn't had a lot of time to shine, so it would be unfair for me to critique his performance today. Needless to say, we're struggling to replace Robin effectively.
Chelsea absorbed the pressure and continued to dominate us with their power. Drogba demonstrated his superior strength when Traore literally bounced 6 feet off him after an attempted shoulder barge. Shortly after, Arshavin suffered the same indignity when challenging Ivanovic.
Shortly after, Drogba capped off Arsenal's shameful afternoon by slotting a shot into the top corner from a dead ball situation. More world class keeping from Almunia, more humiliation for the home fans.
Lets not beat around the bush here, today really was a pitiful result. We were out played, out powered and out scored by 3 goals and we're supposed to be competing for the league? The shame of it was we all knew it was coming. We all knew deep down we didn't really have a chance. It's ground-hog day, it's December and we're out of the Premiership again
So what did we learn from today?
- Well, playing the ball out wide and looking for crosses when you're playing against the best aerial defence in the Premiership is dumb. Playing crosses into the box when you've got no one above 6ft is dumber
- Denilson and Song in the same team is unambitious in the extreme. People thought Geoff was joking when he said this would happen, sadly it wasn't a joke... it was a prophetic statement.
- As for Song dominating the midfield. Well, we didn't see that did we? I thought his performance was shoddy at best.
- Our goalkeeper needs to be changed. I don't know how long Wenger is going to let him play badly before he ships him out. We've allowed 41 shots to land on target this year, we've conceded 18. Un-fucking-believable.
- Money buys you experience, power and winners. When has an Arsenal team ever achieved success without those ingredients?
Very disappointing. If this team is ready and it's no longer young, well, we've got some serious shopping to do in January. There is only so long you can keep on talking about tomorrow.
“In England people think that the Solution is always to buy”
Arsene, that's what people think all over Europe and guess what? They're fucking right. We've got ourselves a young team of players who don't know how to win. We need super human players like Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry and Bobby Pires. We need to start giving the real talent games and stop trying to stop gap with poor players.
Talk about finishing all you like, we didn't create chances. Blame the referee, we're not entitled to get every decision. Moan about missing Van Persie, he wasn't going to keep Chelsea out three times. We've got the same fundamental problems we've had for the last three years. No power, not enough world-class players and a lack of a winning mentality. We've lost to Sunderland, Man City, Man United and Chelsea. That's not title-winning form. If we continue to ignore the issues we have with the squad and continue to praise how young they are and how amazing the business model is, we'll always be here, every year, moaning about the same things.
Arsene's got it dreadfully wrong again, just a little later than he did last year.
The kids are no longer kids, they're failing adults. Time for a rethink.
Almunia: Give me a keeper who knows how to communicate with his defence, has the guts to come from crosses and can stop shots. If anyone knows of one, please forward his name onto email@example.com. 5
Sagna: Some typically woeful crossing from the Frenchman and a terribly clumsy challenge in the first half. Harsh on the crossing. I guess asking a full back to hit one of our 'target men' is a pretty impossible task even for the most gifted of wide men. 5
Gallas: Terrible mix up for the two goals. He's there to stop dangerous balls and he failed. I wasn't overly impressed with his Drogba hug at the end of the game either. 5.5
Vermaelen: Not his best game. He should have been more composed when clearing the Cashley cross and he could have given a penalty away in the second half after rugby tackling John Terry. 5
Traore: Not a bad game considering how many people consider him to be the weakest left back to ever wear an Arsenal shirt. 6
Song: I thought he had a very poor first half. He gave the ball away cheaply, struggled to keep up with players who are 7 -8 years older than him and hardly dominated in the way so many people promised he would. Not just that, he suffered the shame of being hooked off for the equally average Denilson. 6
Denilson: Why oh why would you put him in the same team as Song? Surely one defensive midfielder is enough? Passed better than Song, but offered nothing of note to the game. Irritating how often he smiles when he plays badly. A very odd decision from the coach. 5
Cesc: Never really got into the game. Against more powerful opposition, he needs to be protected. He wasn't, so he couldn't perform. 5.5
Nasri: Looked lively in the first half, but failed to really impose himself past the first 20 minutes. Very disappointing. Am I the only person who feels like all our players are indentikit versions of each other? I feel like I'm playing top trumps and I've got 5 Alfa Romeo's (There's a metaphor in there somewhere)... Rosicky, Nasri, Cesc, Arshavin, Vela... they've all got the same qualities, all got the same weaknesses. 6.5
Arshavin: Sorry? He played? I can hardly remember seeing him! Struggling to motivate himself playing in our team? Well, if that's the case... he'll miss out on that move to Barca this summer. They'll only want players who perform. Time to think about the team who pay you £80k a week, time to stop being such a girl and get over your World Cup failure, time to start delivering on that reputation you have. 3
Eduardo: What happened to our confident, cool, calm striker? Where did he go? He was off the pace today and very quiet. Like he normally is, bar the goals. 3.5
Walcott: I'm sorry, as an outed xenophobe, I feel ashamed to admit it, but I just can't get excited by the pride of English football. He gets the ball, either touches it behind him, 15 feet in front of him, or palms it off as a pass. Very average and totally undeserving of a 60k a week contract. 5
Vela: Eduardo off, Eduardo 4 years younger on. He even has the problem of not getting penalties because he looks like the Crozillian. 5
Rosicky: Kind of got things going, should have started really. Must have been pretty shocked that he is finally fit and the coach preferred to stick Denilson in there. A bit like finding out your boss has asked his 13 year old son to head up a multi-million pound project at work instead of putting you forward. 5
So a day on and I'm still getting 'Happy Days' text messages from Chelsea fans. Geoff and I were planning a podcast for this morning... kicking off that chapter of Le Grove off with a miserable episode didn't seem right.
Still, we must dust ourselves down and hope that Manchester City's dismal run of draws comes to an end when we beat them this week. I have a spare for that game, 2 for Stoke and a few others if you're interested.
Have a great day Grovers! See you in the comments.