I went into the game with a worry and tenseness that always follows me into a major games under Arsene Wenger. Many questions were laid on the table, in the main; they mostly centred on our planning.
Namely, did we do any?
Wenger immediately did his switch from ‘winning formula’ to ‘not so much winning formula’. The Ox was dropped out of the starting line-up, Jack slipped into the midfield with Flamini, Cazorla played in the hole with Mesut outwide on the left. For me, the visible lack of power was a worry.
I’ve not penned a match report, I’ve just penned the points of interest.
It was clear to me that Arsenal had done some work at the training ground before the game. We held our shape far better than we have done in the last few games against Chelsea. There wasn’t so much bombing forward from the full backs (bar Gibbs who can’t resist), we had a more reserved approach and we were quite happy giving Chelsea the ball for large parts. The fact the game plan didn’t work centred around other items outside our shape / tactics.
You know I’m not one for whining about the conspiracy of referees, but simply put, the standard of refereeing was an absolute disgrace yesterday. Games hinge on the whims of these men who are so often destroyers of games it’s embarrassing.
Early on in the game, Cahill scythed down Sanchez in a disgusting challenge that was a straight red. No question about it. The 4th official saw it, he bottled it, Atkinson cowardly ignored the obvious through fear of what Mourinho might say after the game. So Cahill stayed, which meant, Hazard stayed on the pitch… because he’d have been the luxury player sacrificed by the practical Mourinho.
The second half saw another howler when Atkinson adjudged Cesc’s spectacular handball not to be a handball. What is it with refs and handballs? That was so obvious. He saw it clearly. Yet he ignored it. Again, 1-1 makes it a different game.
Also, I know we were lucky not to lose Laurent. But how Calum Chambers was booked is quite beyond me. I know he’s been a bit clumsy of late, but Hazard played for that booking. When you layer his yellow card over the systematic fouling from Oscar (who didn’t pick up a booking until very late), well, you really struggle to work out what’s going on there… other than Mourinho now having the Ferguson fear factor among refs. Which is so pathetic.
I bitch about football managers not using data properly, who is talking to the refs? Who sits down with those guys before a game and says, ‘Look, Jose will set up a team that will disrupt in the final third with niggly fouls. If this happens more than three times in the first 10, tell the captain you’re booking the next foul regardless’.
No one does. The refs are so wrapped up in their own performance, they fail to see what’s going on from a tactical standpoint, so teams can bully, trick and con their way to points.
Both the goals were of our own doing. As with the last game, we lost the ball twice in midfield and Chelsea capitalised. Two stupid mistakes. The first one was Sanchez in Cheslea’s final third, the break wasn’t tracked because we don’t have the right players, Hazard beasted through the middle of our players, Cazorla missed him, then Laurent stuck out a lazy challenge and felled him. No red card which was lucky. Laurent really has been a shower this season, if he doesn’t want to be here, perhaps he should just say. No excusing his attitude of late, he looks totally uninterested.
The second goal came from Santi losing the ball, Cesc launched a long ball George Graham would have been proud of… our two centre backs both dithered… they didn’t drop deep to clear the ball, they didn’t push up to play Costa offside, so he followed the ball, chested it down and flicked deftly over our keeper and that was it. A really pathetic piece of defending from our centre backs… who sadly have no competition to shake things up. Per needs a rest, Laurent needs dropping. Again, total negligence from the manager to not have sorted that massive gap in his squad this summer.
Point is, both of those mistakes were text box. We really shouldn’t be suffering mistakes like that if we have title aspirations.
Chelsea have a Matic. They have a big huge lump of meat that sits just in front of the back four. He’s explosive over ten yards so he can cover the ground needed to snuff out danger and he’s cynical. Where was our cynical challenge when Hazard broke? Where was our player who would go through the player and the ball to kill an attack? It’s car crash squad planning. We lost two points to City because we lacked a Schneiderlin, we lost at least one goal against Chelsea because we didn’t buy a Carvahlo. It’s been clear for years that we lack power in our side. It’s clear now we lack power. It was clear yesterday we lacked power.
So why is it never addressed?
Again, I know this is to be expected of Wenger and it’s nothing new, but our substitutes at times are completely baffling. The manager takes off Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere and leave on Flamini and Ozil. What’s he thinking? He should have yanked the very average Flamini and Ozil who was having a terrible game again. Even pulling Sanchez, a striker who goes to war everytime he plays shouldn’t have gone off. Wenger really does have a blind spot when it comes to subs. It’s like he makes the decisions based on how much he likes a player, rather than what’s going on in front of his eyes.
Arsenal in final third
We had possession in spits and spats but we didn’t make enough of it in the final third. Jack Wilshere wasn’t great yesterday; his touch let us down badly when he had a clear run of goal. He was wasteful with his passing at times. Ozil was an absolute passenger out there, he really is starting to look every inch the panic buy he was. Again, someone needs to have a quiet word with him about what it is to play for the The Arsenal. Bench him, no one is bigger than the club. Welbeck didn’t get into the game and overall I’d say we were too fussy in their half. We’re playing the same style we did last season when we have players that allow us to be more direct and quicker on the counter. Our front three really doesn’t have any sort of balance at the moment.
It’s really weak against Mourinho. 12 without a win. It’s quite unbelievable Wenger still hasn’t turned him over. The fisticuffs during the game at least showed a manager who cared. I mean, Jose asking the ball boy to hold onto the ball after the first minute and all the rest of the nonsense is just typical scumbag Jose. The idea that the fat little waiter sitting next to him would take on Steve Bould is quite hilarious.
Back to the game, Wenger is usually pretty easy to set up against, not yesterday. He did some homework yesterday, but he was still found out because he didn’t do his homework in the summer and build a decent squad capable of going toe-to-toe with the top guns. We’ll always fall down with Wenger because he’s not elite anymore. However, at least he gave it more of a go yesterday. There are smatterings of progress, even though those progress moments only tend to come when he’s on a very bad run.
I think we’ll still make top four. We were never in the title race. So yesterday was an expected loss. However, if we can get into our stride, continue to do our preparation on the opposition and find something to make the fans smile, I’ll be happy enough. I know the limitations of the manager, I’ve accepted them so I’ll be pleased if we just improve on last season.
Flat ambition, I know. But what’s the point in hoping for the impossible? What’s the point in arguing with people who don’t see it? Because to be honest, if you can’t see the decline in our manager compared to others, you’re either lying to yourself, blind or you’re just playing up to a character you’ve carved yourself online.
Still, good news is on the horizon. Once Ramsey and Theo come back into contention, we’ll be a different side. Having options like Debuchy and Giroud will also give us more quality. I don’t think our crocked right back would have given Hazard such an easy ride yesterday. A Giroud would give us something from the bench we don’t get from Lukas. Finally, at left back, I’m really struggling to see what Gibbs gives us at the back or going forward. Monreal isn’t fashionable, but I think he’s a better left back than Kieran, way more fight.
An expected defeat but one which mostly hinged around terrible standard of reffing in this country. Chelsea didn’t look like future Champions yesterday, they looked like a team that’s set the pace early that could struggle if they pick up one or two injuries over the next few months. Then we’ll see the whinger of a manager they have self-destruct in cry baby fashion like he did last season.
That’d make me smile…
Right, have a great day!
P.S. Arsenal fans letting a flare off… in the bar. Come on guys, lift it!
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