Swimming in the sea whilst surrounded by beautiful tropical fish, baby sharks, sting rays and blazing sunshine on a pristinely sandy beach you’d think I’d be in heaven. And I’ve truly felt like it these past few days, however only Chelsea could make such an environment boring, albeit only for 2 hours. Thankfully I can now go back to enjoying the serenity of my holiday without having to watch that dross.
The game was a pretty even affair, but one I felt we just about shaded. Both teams had chances but the one that will sit with us all for a few hours is likely to be the Ozil/Welbeck miss-hit/miss-hit combo in the 90th minute. I’m not quite sure how that didn’t go in and we had to see the racist man of all men celebrate – an image that disturbs every one of us. In terms of their game plan, it was one that we knew would take place and knew we’d find hard to break down so it should have come as a surprise and in fairness to us it didn’t really. Reading Philippe Auclair’s Tweets I absolutely had to agree with him, contact doesn’t necessarily = foul. It’s a contact sport. To my mind Chelsea should have had a penalty and we should also have had a penalty. But that’s what happens when your game plan involves doing largely nothing for large periods of the game. It creates an atmosphere where when nothing much happens even the slightest of incidents is overplayed by the placid team. It’s a tactic that I think Jose Mourinho’s teams have a history of adopting purely because it’s one that works on most occasions. It’s actually quite smart football and although it’s something that verges on being unsporting it’s the least we should expect from Jose and his teams. They had a couple of really decent (scary/frightening!) situations as did we but the little things that any one team needs to go for them on the day, didn’t fall for either side. A draw isn’t actually that bad a result considering United’s defeat vs Everton so it leaves us in 3rd place on goal difference with a game in hand. 2nd place is well within our reach and is something that we shouldn’t lose sight of with the cup final in view. It’s the final 2 games where I feel our intensity could drop so we have to ensure we win everything before them to allow room for error. Home games are far easier to get through on sheer will so winning our next 3 will give us the best platform to achieve 2nd place. A win would have kept our intensity up until the very end but as it is, it wasn’t to be. The glimmer of a title hope that we had has now gone and you could see that on the Chelsea players’ faces at the end of the game. They have been the most consistent team throughout the season, but it’s important to remember that it’s not this game that’s cost us a shot at the title. It’s our indifferent start. Finishing the season strongly with a 2nd place finish along with some more FA Cup success is a must to keep the momentum going into next season. Winning a trophy again will keep the positivity around the club and hopefully generate the 2/3 signing we need to really compete for the league next season. The game stats may have read just the one shot on target for us and more possession etc etc but anyone who will have watched the game will have seen who was trying to play some football and go on and win the game. I completely understand the way Chelsea played and set up as they needed to not lose in order to see out any remaining challenge from us. Had we been only 2/3 points behind it might have been a different affair. I can’t begrudge the way they played but anyone who doesn’t think it’s a little boring to watch firmly has the blinkers on.
The post match extended interviews were something I was really keen to see. Wenger went for the “they came here for the 0-0 but are worthy champions. No one gives you presents in the Premier League so they deserve to be where they are”. Mourinho went with “we showed everybody how to defend properly. The game is about goals and defending, not possession”. In fairness to him he later explained that he was talking of games prior to this one regarding possession, the United game is the one I think he’s referring to here. He then went on to say the following when quizzed on their “boring” style from the Arsenal fans “I think it’s boring that they haven’t won a title in 10 years, that to me is boring”. Classy as always. They are going to win the league and deservedly so but there’s a way to win and lose and Jose has not mastered either with any level of dignity. He mentions the years without a title but he’s never stuck around long enough to go through the bad times at any club. Until he stays somewhere for 10 years or more he can’t really say he’s built anything. Good and bad times will come but when the going gets tough Jose gets going, which is why he’s never been through a “boring” trophy-less phase. It works in cycles and the Chelsea he left last time around was similar to the Man City of today where ageing players need replacing and a squad needs to be managed and nurtured through. He’s never done that an continued to be successful so until he does he won’t be considered a true “great” in the same way Fergie and Wenger are. He’s a top class manager but as I’ve said in previous pieces, you can’t buy class.
Onto the Cesc fun that was had. He was applauded. Then booed. Played some sumptuous passes. Took a dive (and yes it was an Ashley Young esque fall). And then was booed a little more before, in the end, being clapped off. A classy finish from the Arsenal faithful as well as a classy clap from him to all Arsenal fans before coming off. Football Frieeeeends. We all know that he wouldn’t quite fit into our style of play no matter what the moronic pundits of today say, nevertheless it’s still a little painful seeing him work his wizardry for someone else. I wish we had the financial muscle to stockpile talent, but we don’t and it would mean only getting half from both himself and Ozil. Hence he isn’t in Red but in blue.
The final thing I want to touch on is punditry and commentary in general. I watched the game commentated on 4StarSports out here in the Maldives. I had the distinct displeasure of listening to Peter Drury (actually not that bad) and an absolute tosser of a co-commentator. He really loved Chelsea and despised Arsenal. A bad Arsenal tackle was cynical but a bad Chelsea tackle would be what Arsenal should have expected. The clown had a distinct ex-player drawl about him that irked my to the point of many shakes of the head along with pleading with my wife to agree with me at the level of his idiocy. Her response was “all I know is that I hate John Terry and I hope we win just so we don’t have to see him smile”. Off the point I know, but still, it kept me happy. Back to the pundits thing and I’ve noticed that Thierry has been getting some bad publicity of late and it’s been coming in my view. I sometimes think he says things just to make a different point rather than actually analyse a situation. It’s quite upsetting to see one of your heroes suffer in an environment that he should really be thriving in. A Gary Neville he is not, but then who would we have had rather play for us? Gary Neville or Thierry Henry? I’ll take some shit punditry alongside world class footballing talent thank you very much. I just hope he doesn’t fall down a hole that contains the likes of Robbie Savage, Paul Scholes and Danny Murphy. He’s still got some time turn things around as he’s fairly new to the game so I hope he does. His digs at Sp*rs would be missed.
Anyways back to the sun, sand and sea for me. Have a wonderful week.
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