Archive for December 1st, 2008


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


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 “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!

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December 2008