Good morning lovely people and happy Monday to you all – James here with another match report for your pleasure. Apologies for the late post, but I’ve spent the last three hours trawling around building sites.
So yesterday saw us face off against Chelsea, whose cunt levels are currently up there with Tottenham’s. From top to bottom, they truly are a pack of shit-breathed hounds, who suck the joy out of life itself. Apologies for the hyperbole, but I struggle to say anything about that club that isn’t expletive and imagery ridden. From their skipper – running for Mr UKIP 2015 – to their jumped up little gobshite of a manager, they are rotten to the core. This game presented a significant opportunity for Arsenal to lay down a serious benchmark for next season – this was never going to hold any importance in this season’s title race but a victory would certainly sharpen the minds of the West London wankers.
Prior to the game I was feeling unusually buoyant and confident – perhaps a fortuitous side effect of the heavy duty painkillers I was taking, having bust my ankle for the zillionth time. Nonetheless, we are a team on a seriously upward trajectory and if ever there was a time we could beat a Mourinho side, this was it. My confidence in victory quickly eroded however when the team sheets were released. From our perspective there were no real surprises, save for Bellerin’s inclusion at the expense of Debuchy. Many felt Arsene would plump for experience but the choice to retain Hector was fully vindicated. Chelsea however set-up with no recognized centre forward, leaving the 63 year old arch-Arsenal-tormenter, Didier Drogba, on the bench. From thereon in, the writing was on the wall and a bore draw seemed a depressing inevitability.
As you know, the final score echoed numerous previous encounters at the Emirates, with both sides firing a blank, yet the game itself was a decent watch, particularly in the first half. It will be a game however, that is reflected on more for the sub-texts than the 90 minutes itself. The game started at a good pace with a decent ebb and flow from the off. To my surprise it was Oscar who performed the role as an auxiliary forward for Chelsea and it nearly paid off for them. Fabregas was given time to loft a ball over a static Koscielny, which Oscar raced onto. He lofted the ball over Small Dave, but fortunately Bellerin – who had played the Chelsea man onside – was alert enough to head the ball to safety. Oscar took an absolute clattering from our keeper and to be frank, it was a blatant penalty and probably a sending off for dangerous play. You very rarely see those decisions given and it was fortunate for us that goalkeepers appear to have carte blanche to twat anyone who comes near them.
We were, as expected, enjoying plenty of the ball but without creating many clear cut chances. There were several spells of exhilarating build up play, generally involving Alexis and Ozil, but to no avail. The only shot on target from us came from Ozil, having spun away from his man, only to fire straight at Courtois. Chelsea had a great opportunity to score when Ramires, the stickiest of stick-men, was put through by Willian, but he shot tamely at SD. Sandwiched between these incidents, Fabregas was booked for a dive in our box. It was one of those that you claim if it’s your side and would be appalled if it was given against you. More on Fabregas anon…
Unfortunately the second half was something of a damp squib, with Chelsea sucking the life out of the game. John Terry was imperious for them. Whilst he is clearly a massive, massive wanker, he is also clearly a very fine defender. He won every ball in the air and didn’t really give Giroud a sniff. They also carried out the usual systematic-fouling-of-our-best-players thing that they do; and of course got away with. We had a few half chances, one of them falling to Per when the ball dropped to him just inside the box after Chelsea failed to clear their lines. Predictably our skipper scuffed the ball badly wide. He had a superb game, but he was the last person in the side you’d want that chance to fall to. In the dying embers of the game, Ozil should have scored when he failed to connect with a Monreal cross and Welbeck could have got on the end of the aftermath, but he failed to read the play. Cazorla also dragged a shot badly wide when he had time to shoot in their box. As the referee blew up for full time, there was certainly a sense of frustration that we’d failed to break Chelsea down, but I felt there was also an appreciation of the effort they’d exuded.
In terms of approach, I don’t think we did too much wrong. One particularly promising aspect was the defensive side of our game, especially the cynical bookings to break up counter attacks. It’s not pretty, but it’s long-time we wised up to this part of the game and it is promising to see we are learning. Our centre backs were excellent and our full backs did a superb job of shackling Hazard and Willian (who is vastly overrated by the way). Our midfield functioned pretty well and whilst Alexis and Ramsey didn’t have their best games, they were always looking forwards and trying to make things happen. We certainly missed the Ox yesterday, with his ability to beat his man sorely missed. Ramsey has many talents, but outsprinting a full back isn’t one of them. I do feel that sooner or later Arsene will just need to choose between Aaron and Santi in the middle and play a more orthodox wide man on the flanks.
With regards to Giroud, I thought he did well with the minimal chances he was provided, but it was a game where we needed that extra spark. Thierry Henry was fairly critical of Giroud after the game, which was harsh, but he’s correct when he says we lack a striker who can create something for himself, ala Henry, Suarez et al. The issue is, who is out there? I couldn’t name an attainable striker who fits the bill. I do think Arsene will look at adding a pacey attacker in the mould of a Reus, Lacazette or Dybala this summer, particularly if Theo leaves, just to add further variety to our play. Yesterday Ozil was so well shackled, with two men on him at all times, our out ball was to the flanks. By congesting the centre of the park they were happy to let Terry and Cahill chance their arm at defending crosses – an area in which they excel. We lacked that variety to break them down and I think it’s a personnel issue that should be addressed.
One thing that was noticeable is the change in approach from our fans, toward the team. Three or four months ago, every misplaced pass was greeted by groans and moans but I think the fantastic form of the side, along with an impending cup final, has given them significant grace with the fan base. Instead of bemusement, attempted passes are applauded for their vision, which is far healthier than where we were at the end of 2014.
As ever with Mourinho there were some idiotic reposts regarding our fans chanting of ‘boring, boring Chelsea’. More staggeringly there has been heavy criticism in the media of our jibes. Frankly, they have all missed the point. It is worth remembering that a huge majority of sides who come to the Emirates park the proverbial bus and aren’t taunted with the boring chants. They are driven by our derision and dislike of Chelsea, to wind them up and given Mourinho’s pathetic and predictable response of ’10 years without a trophy snipe, it clearly worked. It was interesting that the sycophantic arse-lickers in the pressroom didn’t pull him up on Chelsea’s ignominy for 50 years before they won the lottery. What a special bellend. Also, I can’t stand how some expect football grounds to be hotbeds of Bond-like neutrality. It’s a tribal sport and a part of the game that match going fans love – why the criticism? I sense there would be just as much if we sat on our hands and said nothing.
To end, I will briefly address the snake-cum-rat shaped elephant in the room. I found the applause for Fabregas yesterday utterly sickening and embarrassing. The sight of him lauding it at the final whistle as he left the pitch was a disgrace as well. Let’s get some context. I don’t actually care he went to Chelsea – Arsenal turned him down, Barca wanted rid and he has to go somewhere. My gripe is down to the manner in which he left a club who gave him so much and made him club-captain. Hell, I don’t even begrudge him going to Barcelona. But a club captain who goes on strike, sulks in the gym so he doesn’t have to do a photoshoot for the new kit and pisses off to the Grand Prix, whilst constantly professing his love for Arsenal, is a grade-A rat. At least van Persie was up front about it: ‘Hey guys, I’m an arsehole and I want to leave for more moo-lah and to win the Premier League’. There were no vestiges of love for Arsenal. He’s a bellend of gargantuan proportions, but why is Fabregas any better? If you don’t want to boo him, fine; but to give him applaud and adulation is utterly bizarre in my book and I just don’t get why other ex-players get derided whilst he gets a hero’s welcome from some of our fan base. Each to their own, I know – people have paid their money and do as they please – but the fondness of reception for a player who coated off the club so badly made me feel very queasy indeed.
I’ll end it on that cheery note and wish you all a good week. Until next time x
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