Afternoon all, and apologies for the delay. Alex here writing to you in the wake of a rather calamitous performance away at Chelsea.
I was lucky enough to attend the game, IN THE VIP SECTION NO LESS, courtesy of Burger King and their #peaceonegame campaign. To commemorate the International Day of Peace on Monday they paired me up with Chelsea blogger Andy (@chelseadaft) and fashion blogger Hayley (@TeaPartyBeauty) to ask that age old question: “hey, can’t we all just get along?”
I presume Hayley’s role was to act as some sort of mediator between Andy and myself but it didn’t prove necessary as they were both lovely people and we all got on swimmingly. It goes to show, if a Chelsea fan and an Arsenal fan can get on, surely those lads in ISIS could learn to stop being such dicks. It was also really interesting to hear the game from an opposing fan’s perspective. More on that in a bit.
The weather was glorious at Stamford Bridge yesterday. I was sitting in a section where punters have to dress smart casual; as in no football shirts allowed. At a football match. Just let that sink in for a minute. I expect we have a similar arrangement in the Director’s box at the Ems but our seats weren’t corporate and we were still in the terraces. A very bizarre arrangement.
Pre-game Andy informed me that Ivanovic was Chelsea’s weak link and that teams which had done well against them had targeted him. I cheerfully informed him that he needn’t worry with us, because there was almost certainly no way Arsenal would’ve taken this into consideration when setting up the team. And so it turned out to be.
Walcott started up top for us yesterday and while bright in patches gave the impression of a contestant on the Crystal Maze who had 90 minutes to score a goal in order to get the crystal. He tried a few runs, had some hopeful shots, but always safe in the knowledge that it was all just a bit of fun and he’d be home by 9pm. Compare his performance with Costa. Regardless of the rights and wrongs of his behaviour (and there were a lot of wrongs) that is a guy who would kill his own dog to win a game of football. Sadly we don’t have any players like that any more, or at least the ones we do (Sanchez, Wilshere) aren’t up to it at the moment. I’m not falling for that old cliché of needing leaders on the pitch, just people who really fucking hate losing. Ironically the only one who did show some brass balls was Gabriel. He stood up for his team mate, called Costa out for his behaviour and got rewarded with a red card. So it goes…
Aside from the awful refereeing yesterday the overall feeling I got from the team was “hey that was a bit of a bummer but let’s get back to Colney and film some more videos of us playing cricket”. I really don’t understand where this mind set comes from because if there is one person who HATES losing, its Arsene Wenger.
Maybe I’m being overly harsh, and there is no doubt the referee ruined yesterday’s game, but even before that I thought we sucked. Hard. Alexis Sanchez gave the ball away more times than a snooker referee (think about it). Mesut Ozil, who Andy thought was a complete flop, lived up to that billing despite his strong form this season. Rather than running the show he always seemed to be too far away from the action. Cazorla is no kind of midfield quarterback. He’s a class player but he’s not imposing or mobile enough to run the game from the centre. And he gives the ball away, a lot. Even Aaron Ramsey, who is usually able to create something with his own endeavour, was pretty bland. The only player who looked in control and dominant was Laurent Koscielny. He was leagues above the rest of the team in terms of quality.
Now onto the referee. I said a few seasons ago that the problem with Mike Dean was that he makes it all about him (a sentiment echoed yesterday by Garth Crooks of all people). Put simply the guy is a bellend. If he and his officials missed Costa’s antics before Gabriel’s sending off that, to some degree, is understandable. What is baffling is once he had booked both players, he panicked and reacted to pressure from Costa and that massive grass Fabregas and sent the player off for an innocuous challenge. Use your judgement Dean. The situation had been defused, you could have got a handle on the game. Instead you let it run out of control and ruined it for everyone else.
I don’t know if its nerves, a lack of self-confidence or a genuine desire to be the centre of attention, but someone needs to sit down with him and talk through how football should be refereed because yesterday was a travesty. Going forward I’d like to offer Mike Dean some simple advice. If everyone is talking about you after the game, it means you haven’t done your job properly.
The second red was deserved based on two sloppy pieces of play from Cazorla and resulted from his aforementioned lack of control of the midfield. Could he have been subbed sooner to avoid this issue? Possibly but he appears to be undroppable in the manager’s eyes.
The fact we only lost by two, quite scrappy goals is testament to how bland Chelsea were. Which makes the red cards all the more frustrating as this was the first game in a long time where Mourinho’s Chelsea did not completely dominate us (I’m not including the Charity Shield in that).
So, in spite of it being world peace day tomorrow, the overall feeling I’m left with today is anger. But you haven’t come here for wild, irrational anger. You want some structure to your rage. As such, I’ve put together my Angry List to help make sense of things:
1. Mike Dean – quite simply the worst referee in the league
2. Mourinho – the worst human being in the world
3. Diego Costa – shithousery (but god I’d love it if he played for us)
4. Fabregas – would grass on his own mother
5. Harry Redknapp – just cos
6. ISIS, Boko Haram, Katie Hopkins etc…
7. Sanchez – Trying to do too much, again. Needs to chill
8. Cazorla – Needs to be moved from CM now
9. Arsene – Needs to move Cazorla from CM now
10. Walcott – mate you’re 26. The apprenticeship is over. Start playing like a striker or move back to the wing
11. Ozil – what happened out there mate?
12. Koscielny – didn’t go down despite Costa’s grubby fingers. Played like a beast
13. Gabriel – Red card was worth it to see someone finally stand up to Costa.
Our next game is Tottenham in the Carling Cup and you don’t need me to tell you that it is HUGE. The Carling Cup maybe a bit Spurs, but three defeats in a row (two against rivals) would have the knives out for Arsene again. Here’s to no more red cards, a decent referee and the team finally clicking. Oh yeah just remembered Coquelin is injured. Sweet (*closes eyes and thinks of world peace*)
I should be back tomorrow with more #thoughts #insight and #analysis. In the meantime you can follow me on twitter @aldo_doel and let me know who’s on your angry list. Have a nice Sunday