Chelsea Bark Loudly, Arsenal Bite Decisively

Chelsea 3 – 5 Arsenal

1 – 0 Lampard (14)
1 – 1 van Persie (36)
2 – 1 Terry (45)
2 – 2 Santos (48)
2 – 3 Walcott (55)
3 – 3 Mata (80)
3 – 4 van Persie (85)
3 – 5 van Persie (90)

As if being drawn to the surface by a corkscrew, the season is twisting out of the bottle to unleash its vintage. The encounters between the Great and the Good are producing an exhilarating mix of superb counter-attacking with equally poor defending. All it missed was a red card and Szczesny tried his damndest to fulfil that part of the deal, Koscielny’s form putting enough doubt in the referee’s mind. A close call, one that went Arsenal’s way for a change.

Yesterday provided no respite from this heady cocktail and so long as Arsenal emerge victorious, I don’t want it to stop.

It was an astonishing victory, quite astonishing for so many reasons. Not that it makes the win any more or less emotionally satisfying, just the fact that it was on so many levels, a delicious serving of revenge. It does not wipe the pain of Old Trafford but it helps. It does not erase the memory of Cardiff, Wembley or any number of Premier League defeats where Didier Drogba has bullied, swatted and utterly mastered an Arsenal defence. But it helps.

And until the return meeting in April, it is the result that will stay longest in the mind between the two sides.

Those of us of a certain ‘maturity’ well remember what dour and ugly affairs these matches were in the 70s and 80s. Stamford Bridge and its surrounds were inhospitable, the pitches no better with sand dunes where grass once laid. It is a far cry from the Premier League era. Indeed this match is a distant cousin to many encounters through the years with an openess rarely seen from Chelsea allowing Arsenal to express their intentions to put the recent past behind them.

The opening minutes gave clear indication of the spirit in which this match was being played. Chelsea had opportunities; Cole, Sturridge and Torres were denied by a combination of poor choices, bad finishing and outstanding defending, Per Mertesacker blocking the Spaniard’s attacking run with an outstanding header. At the other end, Gervinho missed the opportunity of the match so far by missing the target with the goal gaping; van Persie was no more accurate moments later.

The cup-tie spirit continued unabated and by the quarter hour mark, the threatened goal had materialised. That Chelsea scored provided a bitter but not entirely surprising moment. Santos was struggling to adapt to the ferocity of the attacking and Mata sprang another surprise on the Brazilian by crossing early, Lampard had found space and subsequently the net. 1 – 0 to the hosts and uncomfortable parallels were drawn with previous visits to the scene of the crime.

Early punches traded, the sides probed and ceded possession too readily to create a threat of note although Sturridge was guilty of another miss, not as glaring as before perhaps. It proved costly as van Persie turned home a fantastic equaliser. Aaron Ramsey found Gervinho and the Ivorian had timed his run to perfection, tearing the Chelsea defence asunder; van Persie followed and the Ivorian served notice that he intends to create more than 15 of  van Persie’s next Arsenal century.

Parity was almost short-lived with Sturridge’s effort rightly ruled out for offside. Relief did not last long as perma-victim John Terry gave Chelsea the lead with a scruffy but almost typically conceded goal on the stroke of half-time. There is a joke in there somewhere about the Arsenal defence being an accident blackspot…

The lead gave the hosts a glimmer of three points. It was the closest they were to come to that total; within ten minutes of the restart they were chasing the game. Andre Santos is having his weight questioned but having been given a bit of a torrid introduction, he settled and crashed home the equaliser as the Chelsea defence went AWOL. It got worse for The Blues when Theo Walcott showed some good old John Bull qualities, strength, bundling his way through the midfield and then the presence of mind to pick himself up when fouled, instead of emulating the slack-jaw mental aptitude of the hosts, he slotted past Cech to give Arsenal a lead for the first time.

Chelsea probed but fumbled like a teenager on a first date, for the next twenty five minutes. They knew where they wanted to be but lacked the guile to unlock the defence. When they did equalise, foul play was afoot with Lukaku interfering. It is harsh to pay much attention to this, Mata’s finish was simply outstanding.

That proved irrelevant. As Chelsea pushed forward, they left gaps which were ruthlessly exposed by Arsenal, Robin van Persie completing a hat-trick with two late counter-strikes. john Terry’s slip made it clear that this afternoon at least, the status of top dog would be returning north of the River. Who cares how the winning goals come in the build-up, the Dutchman’s finishes were indisputable.

van Persie is garnering the headlines and why not, a hat-trick at a close rival is nothing to be sniffed at. Yet I feel more compelled by the performance of others. Chief of which is Theo Walcott. I freely admit that Walcott infuriates, talented beyond the ability of many and today was one of the better in an Arsenal shirt, humiliating Ashley Cole with a maturity in his attacking display that belies his years.

Defensively, Laurent Koscielny is being inspired by the prospect of competition from Thomas Vermaelen for a place in the centre of defence. The Frenchman controlled Torres, subdued his threat and with Mertesacker just marshalled the Chelsea attack into less threatening positions. When they did pursue the route to the back of the net, formidable barriers were put in their way.

Paolo di Canio is far from being anyone’s cup of tea but he recently said of his Swindon players,

With some players, if he has a chihuahua character I can’t make a chihuahua into a rottweiler. He could be a proud chihuahua but he remains a chihuahua. So many of the players at the moment are chihuahuas away from home

Arsenal found yesterday that they don’t have any chihuahua’s.

’til Tomorrow.

369 thoughts on “Chelsea Bark Loudly, Arsenal Bite Decisively

  1. That’s a big call, George. I think Fabby stopped some good shots v. Bolton but wasn’t that aggressive in the air. But you are right, Chezzer had a slightly off game, as I mentioned last night. And it wasn’t just the fouling of Cole for the yellow that could easily have been a red. Slow to react on Mata’s strike. Plus there were several crosses he came for that he didn’t catch or punch away. Still, it takes a lot to change your keeper. It could start a whole keeper controversy!

  2. I am surprised you didn’t come out with this until latish on a Sunday night, George. This would have been a major point of discussion earlier on when there were more people on. There are some who aren’t convinced that Fabby should be #2 as he was replaced only due to injury. I did notice in one of the games recently that Chezzer’s kicking/distribution wasn’t as good as it typically had been this season but looked a bit shaky like last season.

    Now you are making me think that it might not be the worst thing to give Fabby a run out, but honestly I’d rather wait until/if we grab top spot. Then we can see him get a few games and evaluate the form of the two keepers.

  3. Chezzer is the current golden boy and is beyond criticism to some.But despite his great qualities he is very young and very rash at times.
    And if I was being cruel I would blame him for the loss of the CC and the subsequent debacle.
    But over all his super quality and confidence over shadow the weaknesses witch will lessen over time.

  4. @ YW

    I would like to agree with all and say well done for the effort you put in getting up a blog that is INTELLIGENT, INSIGHTFUL AND ACTUALLY VERY FACTUAL AND HUMOROUS TO BOOT… we take it for granted a lot, but once in a while like this especially after a result like yesterday, its good to tell you that you are much appreciated.

    Well written as per usual.

    Am happy Ramsey is finding his feet again… he is also one of those that injuries cost us his services for nearly a season.

  5. i tend to agree with you on ches george
    hes still our best keeper that confidence is just indestructible hes one mentally strong kid, as well as a top stopper..
    his distribution from kicks needs improvement still and i wish hed be a bit more sensible sometimes when rushing off his line, out of the box, and half way up the pitch to put someone he doesnt like on his arse……but other than that hes a top keeper and in a few years he’ll be one of the best..

    disagree on the CC final though..that was either leave it or you hoof dont dummy your own keeper when the balls a milimetre awaty from his gloves..

  6. @ George

    it usually it just seems he is beyond any criticism. Hope both of them can strike a balance and really help each other out! Its always good to have 2 or more good players fighting for a position!

  7. My team for tuesdays CL- 11 changes


    Jenks—–Djorou—TV—–Gibbs (if fit)




    Scz, RVP, Chamakh, Ramsey, Kos, Santos, Theo on the bench…

    Should be good enough for Marseille at home..Lets use our big squad…If diaby is fit then diaby and coq instead of frimp and coq…….

  8. Actually changed my mind..slightly more attacking for the home tie..and AA in the free role behind park 😀


    Jenks—–Djorou—TV—–Gibbs (if fit)




  9. People are treating this Marseille game as if it is routine second game in a week, like a CC or FA cup game later in the season. We have played 10 league games, two CC games where we did rotate, and five CL games so far this season. We have had a number of players who didn’t play in a number of these games because of injuries, rotation, joining the club late in the deadline and so on. There is no reason that the squad should be dangerously fatigued. This is the biggest game on the horizon for a month and a half. If we win it, we will be very nearly assured of topping the group with 10pts and Marseille on 6 with two games remaining.

    There is absolutely no reason not to put our strongest team forward and to rotate players for a game of this magnitude this early in the season. Play the best and if we are up or some look gassed, substitute them. No one played two games last week as we rotated fully in the CC. So all we are asking is for the players who are on a massive high and soaring confidence after destroying Chelsea to play at home this Tuesday to break the back of the CL group.

    For the rest of the November, December and January period we can rotate lots of players through practically dead rubber CL, CC, and FA cup games.

  10. Anirudh, AW said that Chelsea and Marseille this week were like two big cup ties. It is a massive game and I don’t think there is a snowball’s chance in hell that he is going to start Coq/Frimp/AOC/Park/Dj at CB. He probably won’t start any of them, much less all of them for such a massive, massive game. You put out a CC team–looks very close to the Bolton lineup. No chance.

  11. George, mine is at 8:25 above, but I amended it by replacing Dj with Jenks. I can go with resting Gervinho and playing Ramsey or Rosicky there perhaps. Otherwise RvP starts, Song is a must and Arteta is amped up for the CL.

  12. Limestonegunner

    Rotation does not necessarily mean the team I put up there were 11 changes except for 3 (theo/gerv for AOC, RVP for park, Song for Coq) nobody would disagree that the players brought in really do not “weaken” the side…

    Rotation also serves the purpose of keeping players in the squad match sharp, and Rosicky, Arshavin, Yossi, TV, JD, etc need to be match even park, coq and its a good opportunity to give them a good, tough game which at home in the CL you would expect these players to win for you

  13. definitely our strongest possible team should be out there… winning should more or less guarantee qualification and make topping the group easier since Dortmund have done their best to be out of contention!

    but i think being able to call on AA and Rosicky, benayoun, Chamakh, Vermaleen, as sure starters is not a bad squad at all! I don’t think the drop of quality is all that! Am thinking Arteta is getting due a rest, but he would be pained to miss a CL game… maybe in the next Pl game? Glad am not the one ,making these decisions… LOL. Also when is Diaby due back?

    For all that City have spent we do have quite a quality squad when the chips are down!

  14. “No LG I think he should start .I felt Pole 1.was poor yesterday.”

    I didn’t think he was poor, but he was not at his best especially with his lack of movement on the Mata shot. I wasn’t going to be the first to say it since Dexter would have accused me of still crying over my 20p! He does have flaws but he has been lucky that his popularity has allowed him to get away with it or one of his team mates has bailed him out either defensively, or by scoring up the other end.

  15. Song and gervinho missed 3 league games also in late August/early Sept due to suspension. So this shouldn’t be a tall order. We can start a systematic rotation policy right after we win (fingers crossed).

  16. not sure coq, frimp or AOC are getting anywhere near the starting line up except maybe on the bench!

  17. @ LG and George

    The team I posted second is the line-up is the one I suggest not the first…I agree that Frimp/coq wont be right for marseille..

    I feel that all these players need to be ready to be part of the first eleven at anytime, and playing a game of high importance with the pressure on will be good for maintaining match sharpness..much better than playing dead-rubbers and CC where the pressure isnt great

  18. @ team spirit

    Coq needs these kind of games too if he is the primary back-up for song..As i said not Frimp and coq..but Coq and Rosicky..playing alongside rosicky and arshavin, should be enough experience around him…

  19. Anirudh, look at my team at 8:25. I do have some changes as well. But playing CC squad members is not an option, and that is what your team is full of. That is weakening because those are three of our very best players! Our two biggest goal threats and our indispensible midfield defensive anchor. benayoun and coquelin got games last midweek so they don’t have to have a game one week later to have benefited from a run out to keep them sharp and Dj at CB is weaker on current form in that position than TV/Merts/Kos. I don’t accept your explanation and don’t think you are taking the Marseille game as seriously as it deserves or the manager believes it is.

  20. Anirudh, some of the players you mention needing games will and can get them in league games against lower table sides as well as CC and FA cup games starting next weekend if we get a win. Our last two CL games won’t be completely dead rubbers because we will want a good performance against Borussia Dortmund at home and will want a result at Olympiakos if we only draw against BD.

  21. @ LG

    Yep..saw ur team..makes a lot of sense..has a much higher probability of occurring than mine..

    but in all my team predictions, I usually find that I go for a slightly different team to most, which is based on what I find logical at the time..which sometimes actually coincides with the actual selection, however I am not looking for 100% team reflects my thinking at the time and now I just get the feeling that we might see a whole raft of changes, and actually believe that playing big games rather than CC makes players sharper

  22. “disagree on the CC final though..that was either leave it or you hoof dont dummy your own keeper when the balls a milimetre awaty from his gloves..”

    Keeper either called or should have called for that ball – he was breathing down Kos’s neck and took his eye off the ball. It’s water under the bridge now, but as Kos was not as popular as the golden boy he took all the blame, which was unfair.

  23. I did mention that Chezz didn’t have his best game last night and Dexter did in fact defend him! Dropping him would be a pretty big move though because it wasn’t a bad performance and we did win the game.

  24. —————-Szczesny—————-





    Nochance of me dropping the one and only!!! Even though I think he was responsible for us losing the CC final (but I’ve moved on since then)
    Although this is a big game, I would rest RvP, play Chamakh and have Park, AOC, Ryo Miquel, Djourou and Coquelin on the bench, hopefully we will be winning well enough to bring off Theo, Song and Kos.

  25. Limey

    I defended Szczesny in terms of the foul on Cashley dude. I didnt see it as a red and neither does Dermot Gallagher the ex-ref, so there!

    Szczesny was a bag of nerves in the CC final. He could and should have been sent off after about 5 minutes of that game.

  26. OK Anirudh. AW knows best and will be able to tell on Monday who has recovered, needs a rest, or looks ready. But I certainly don’t think he is going to pick players because they need a game to be sharp. He thinks Marseille is a decisive game for our future in the competition. He said as much. If he has high confidence in Benayoun who had a good game or Park, likewise, I could possibly see them starting rather than being on the bench I picked. I could even see Coquelin possibly paired with Arteta but not all of those changes together. We’ll see soon enough!

  27. Dex, right on cue! But you also defended his overall performance (which is fine by me–he wasn’t bad just not up to his highest standards on a few occasions): “Szczesny was fine today, IMO.” I love Chezzer and am glad to hear Dermot Gallagher gave him a pass too–where did you see/hear this, btw?

  28. @LG

    Yep..for sure he does and he keeps proving it time and again…we can vie for “I told you so” rights on tuesday ..or both of us might end up with egg on our faces and agree to remain silent on the issue 😀

  29. Dex, I like your team. And I like the formation–I’ve been advocating a 4231 with Arsh playing centrally (but not as loudly or vociferously as the one and only George!) Only, you know AW will have RvP on the bench at least!

  30. I was drunk when posting yesterday Limey, so thanks for reminding me what I was posting man! Yeah, Szczesny was decent enough yesterday. Especially when comparing him to Cech!

    Gallagher said it on the radio mate.

  31. Remain silent?! I’ll put up my hand if I am wrong, but what would the blog be if we remained silent just because we don’t know what we are talking about!! lol! If football leaves you with egg on your face, make an omelete, I always say!

  32. I would like to find a spot for Benayoun and Rosicky too man! But I would settle for seeing Arshavin played in the hole behind the striker (Chamakh) with no defensive responsiblities, so no one slagging him off for not tracking back!

  33. Talkspite or BBC? I download the podcasts 5live/606 but never sample the talkspite offerings.

    You deserved to be celebrating, Dex. It was supreme. I am still, as our young players tweet, “buzzing” from yesterday’s smashing victory.

  34. @LG

    of course……If being wrong had stopped me then my first post with a team prediction would have been been my last..and my last prediction for the chelsea game was not too clever either..

  35. Did anyone notice Ramseys first touch on the turn to set himself up for the reverse pass..the touch was almost as sublime as the pass..another one of arsenes gems surely..

  36. Have I ever mentioned that Andrei should be moved into the center and relieved of all defensive duties.
    Also I like the little fellow,in fact he is my favorite.I have? ok I will leave it.

  37. Anirudh- Terry did not slip, he was beaten for pace and made it look like a slip to save himself from embarassementhttp :// (watch the front camera angle ). when the pass was made Terry was ahead of RVP he had a quick look saw RVP flying passed him them he decided to go down . One thing was very clear yesterday, the Chelsea players looked slow and did not have the legs.
    Today the reaction was all about the defensive frailties of both teams but I they did not see it that way. our defence was poor at start of the season but it getting better game by game while Chelsea getting worst. As long as we are improving then I’m happy with the mistakes . When Vermalen , sagna and Gibbs return, we will be spoiled for choice.

  38. 1lc – we started too tentatively and made some basic errors in defence early on, but the second half we were much better. We are not being given credit for the second half – all that the pundits are going on about was how poor both teams were defensively, when the reality is that we tightened up, chelski stayed poor and got lucky on their 3rd goal thanks to a lenient referee. I also agree that JT is only fooling himself if he thinks we can’t see the difference between an attempt at a face-saving ‘dive’ and a genuine slip!

  39. AA is a true artist george. no argument there. i feel like MARSEILLE is there for the taking and the group with it. no question that it will be a huge boost to the confidence of the team if we can thump them with another convinceING victory. i say go all out and wrap it up. strongest team available for me. the EPL and the ecl are our toughest comps. this year. the cc is also shaping up to be a rough ride. let’s hope the FA cup will be kinder with the luck of the draw. i see it now as the best chance for silverware. let’s hope the team doesn’t take any of the opposition teams for granted. last year the minows in the EPL were our downfall and the year before we still had issues getting points off the top four teams. hope we implement the lessons learned from previous campaigns. goodnight all….

  40. Interesting comment from AW re Theo

    “Walcott has come under fire from some sections of the Arsenal support at times this season for his performances, but Wenger thinks the former Southampton winger is now back to his best.

    “He has been struggling for us because we make him work very hard and I believe that he has become a more complete player,” Wenger said. “He is not a liability any more defensively. He does his defensive job. At the start he got heavy legs when he went to win the ball back but now he is getting used to it. He does the job defensively and he is still dangerous going forward.”

    Maybe the Theo-haters should take note!

  41. Passenal- We also seem to conceed the best goals or usually these long range shots that don’t normally go in. Think of that goal from Larsson it was one of the best free kicks I have seen this season then you have that (hit it and see what happens goal) at the Spuds, the Mata one yesterday and few others. As long as we can see improvement every game then we will be solid the second half of the season. up to now it was pre-season for us

  42. @ 1lc and Passenal
    Terry should take lessons from Drogba, real flaws in the technique there. At least make sure there is an opposition player within a metre of you. Schoolboy error.
    Remember the time he cocked up his penalty in the CL final and immediately started dry-crying to get sympathy and distract us from his mistake? The man is a self-serving coward with no integrity whatsoever.

    Re Theo, are the comments on

  43. Too many in the media are jumping on the RvP bandwagon to heap praises on him. Let’s hope RvP continues to do what he does best and ignore all these goons.

  44. Apart a thrilling win, in which we fairly dominated the second spell, and away to a good defence, it was the performance of Ramsey that set this game alight. Again Song played deeper, interesting that.

  45. I’m surprised by some of the criticisms of Szcz,

    The Mata goal was deflected off Song’s intercepting leg. I think this gave the ball its dip and led to Szcz being rooted.

    I agree it was not his best game but cannot fathom this site being the place that tales of a ‘keeper crisis’ (at this particular moment in our run) being given breath!

    Lest we forget

  46. Dgob,
    Its apparently ok to criticize the favourites or ‘star players’, as part of some kind of balancing act.

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