Chelsea Preview: Young Bucks And Old Heads Collide

A great footballer, a great actor and a great big…

Chelsea arrive at The Emirates this evening for a match which Arsène probably ranks marginally higher on his To Do list than refilling his stapler. The club’s continued pricing structure for these matches indicates that there is not going to be a change in the policy of heavy squad rotation any time soon. The depth of the squad will be tested this evening with injuries and suspension weaving their path. In particular midfield selection will be tested in the absence of both the injured Mathieu Flamini and the suspended Mikel Arteta. The Spaniard is free to play against Liverpool on Saturday following the FAs decision to ban him for a single game.

Whilst the media look back and focus on losing finals, I wonder if Arsène took pride from that and instead reserving his hurt for the semi-final defeat in 1997-98 which, as the season unfolded, denied Arsenal the first domestic treble in the history of English football. The 2 – 1 win in the first leg was the last time that the club tasted victory over Chelsea in this competition. Since then three matches have seen four defeats, scoring just three goals and conceding ten; not a pleasant record.

With managerial feuds buried, inevitably the focus on the football turned to monetary matters. The fixture offers an interesting insight into how football has changed in the last twelve months or so. Arsenal have begun to realise their commercial potential after the expiry of the deals which funded the construction of the stadium. Arsène’s budgetary constraints have moved to a higher level whilst Chelsea are not quite poverty-stricken but certainly have reined themselves in to begin the path to FFP compliance. It is all relative and despite Mourinho’s childish threats, Chelsea are going to field a weakened side featuring the likes of Mata, Luiz, Essien and Ba. In times past, Arsenal would have looked on in envy – bemusement more befitting of Mata’s omission from their starting line-up – with a raft of promising youngsters taking to the pitch. For the most part, they did the club proud, carving victories around the land as well as succumbing to the occasional upset. It was the prospect of them having to fill vacancies in the bigger competitions which sat uneasily, thrust into the limelight before they were ready; some of them would never be ready, playing in the Premier or Champions Leagues before being moved on to pastures new.

Contrast then and now for Arsenal. The only ‘reserve’ Arsenal have who falls short of his comparable number at Chelsea is Bendtner; Arsène rated – perhaps still does – Ba more highly, being prepared to sign him. The domino effect of Mourinho’s games is seen with the Dane taking the opportunity to put himself in the shop window with solid performances from the bench albeit with a questionable hairstyle. The likes of Vermaelen, Rosicky and Jenkinson are comparable to any that will take the pitch in blue tonight. The outcome will depend more on integration of younger players into the XI. One of those, Serge Gnabry, has been rewarded with a new long-term contract. The German youngster has taken full advantage of injuries to others and pushed himself into the first team, not looking out of place in his appearances in any of the competitions thus far. Tomas Rosicky was effusive in his praise and encouragement,

I think he has a manager here who will develop him and who has a history of developing young players. Nothing better could happen to him than being offered a new contract here.

He is a very talented boy; 18 years old and he still has plenty of things to learn and he will find no better place to learn than here. I think it works very well for both sides that he stays here. He’s got a great environment for his growth and the potential and talent is there, so let’s see how he will develop.

Arguably, it is the right time for a young player to break into the first team. The pressure of yesteryear is less intense as the club invests in experience and brings them through to realise their full potential. Nights such as this remain their best opportunity to further their cause and inevitably there will be more failures than successes, as there always has been. The balance for the club is to find room to promote younger players, to keep themselves as an attractive option when it comes to signing talented youth, as well as signing proven players in search of silverware. The two are not mutually exclusive either, the latter enhances the former and vice versa as youth enriches glory.

Tonight’s line-up is subject to speculation, Emmanuel Frimpong used social media to open his mouth purely to change his feet but is apparently not featuring tonight. It leaves a line-up likely to be very similar to that which defeated West Bromwich Albion in the previous round:

Fabianski; Jenkinson, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Monreal; Hayden, Rosicky, Eisfeld; Gnabry, Bendtner, Miyachi

The existence of the League Cup is derided and the financial dominance of the Premier and Champions Leagues reinforces that. It would however be a trophy to win and easing the mental barriers to be overcome. Yes, I am aware that the goalposts will shift, x years without a trophy will be shifted to x years since they won the title as the narratives change to continue pressure on the players, manager and the club in general. But that is the nature of professional football at Arsenal’s level, that is the nature of the beast. Even in the fallow years of the 70s and 80s, the pressure was the same, the desire to be challenging no different. The globalisation of football makes it seem as if it is a new theme; it isn’t it was always there.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

186 thoughts on “Chelsea Preview: Young Bucks And Old Heads Collide

  1. its a shame though, that the goal should come from a stupid mistake… cos we been ok except from that…

  2. Jenkinson seems to often struggle with headers (today, Napoli in the emirate cup). He does look as if he has a poor technique and cannot control the pace and direction of the ball.

  3. kind of reminds me of some of the frantic clichy moments where he switched off and did weird stuff.. out of the blue…often after being ever so good for a long period….

  4. you gotta love tomas he is putting in a real shift but long balls are falling to chavs too often, vermalen needs to win the headers more decisively

  5. heh anyone reckon we will see Park? if we do i bet he scores a screamer.. just because he never plays and nobody really knows he still exists…

  6. the clichy comparison was quite apt that was just mystifying from jenks he really needs to cut this out if he wants to make it, pity because he has all the qualities to be a top notch defender. but decision making and reading the game is something he needs to improve on quickly otherwise once Wenger looses patience thats it for him

  7. @Runebreaker especially as you can see at the replay it seems Wilshere is saying back off i can handle this. then Jekns panicks and heads 🙁

    still early days though… guess he won’t be no 1 just yet though…

  8. we are very flat in final third though. Ryo does not seem to have the cockiness that say Townsead has even though he probably is equal in skill…

  9. attacking wise our only threat seems to be monreal he is getting into some promising positions but there is no support
    bendy is having a rough time and cant bring others into play
    easy for chavs as they simply sit back and break whenever the ball breaks from bendy
    just shows how good giroud is at playing upfront on his own

  10. poor first half no real threat and we havent really created anything much as it stands we are more likely to concede a second rather equalise
    for me the midfield is not balanced, we are not breaking up play effectively and always seem to scrambling for the ball.
    the ball is being played too often behind jack and ramsey
    we are loosing to many defensive long balls which seem to fall to the chavs.

  11. Flattish first half. No one is playing particularly well. Poor Jenks has had a bad game till now. Bendtner at his usual level!! Hoping for a better second half performance.

  12. i think hayden who is a natural defensive player would have been a better option to partner one of jack or ramsey
    poodle i think carzola is far more effective in the middle and tomas has the buzz to play on the flanks
    at some point we are going to giroud on

  13. For me Ryo needs matching against real players before he can play 100% for us. He just gets eaten by those big heavy defenders of chelsea.. Ryo is not nasty enough 🙂

  14. Really a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t tonight. If we had played more kids and been beaten it would have beenn a shame to lose, but kind of expected against a very experienced Chelski second string. If the team we have put out tonight loses does that demoralise the first eleven? Clearly the press will be suggesting we can’t do it against the big boys. A loss tonight is going to put the game against Liverpool right under the microscope.

  15. Bendtner proving yet again that he really shouldn’t be anywhere near playing for this club and if we had sorted out our striker target list in the summer a bit better he never would have been.

  16. A bit worried for Jenks, he hasn’t performed particularly well in these little cameos he has had so far this season. A promising player, but seems to need games to show what he can do. He actually has a very good cross on him, but when he is not able to play regularly he seems to forget how to dial his crosses in. So important for a FB in the modern game to be able to do it at both ends.

  17. The point where we need a goal is getting past now.

    The more this game goes on the more chelsea will be desperate to hold on.

  18. ramsey is trying to drag us back into this game single handedly he really has matured as a player if anyone is going to score it looks like its him

  19. If he threw on Ozil and Giroud we would win…. but i guess he won’t do that.. giroud needs rest after all…as he’s our only striker 🙁

  20. Ryo seems so promising, but just too lightweight for Prem battle. Some players have the strength despite their size, but Ryo is just bouncing off them at the moment. Strength and balance are critical to go with the nice touches.

  21. Game over 2-0

    Well at least i think it is. It was difficult at 1 nil now with 2……

    Ahh well. Need some hot chocolate to cheer me up.

  22. Lets play our only striker then. Lucky we don’t have any important games coming up. Should have just accepted that was it and move on to the next game. If Giroud picks up an injury now we go with Bendtner up front against Liverpool? Clearly he’s shown he’s up for the fight on tonight’s form.

  23. oh well you reap as you sow i guess. if you do not throw on the big ones early you will loose. now we risking giroud and ozil for nothing when we could need them fresh for satudray :S

  24. it is indeed over folks my worry is that this does go on to haunt us and we loose our way
    what is annoying is that chavs havent really bossed the game or outplayed us in anyway.
    we gifted them goals and they gleefully took them

  25. Immediately Giroud shows what the difference having a striker on the pitch makes. Still so crazy that we only signed an inexperienced kid up front in the summer. Roll on January.

  26. @Runebreaker we gifted them goals and lacked properly quality in the final third.. ones giroud is on we change totally… poor little Ryo just got manhandled out there… and Bendtner with all his talent well he’s deffo not sharp enough for PL yet…

    but you never know.. with ozil and Giroud anything is possible…

  27. Another gaff from Jenks at the sharp end of the pitch. Elects to take it inside and just runs into trouble. Not ready to be Sagna’s replacement yet, so if we lose Sagna in the summer we have to spend money on another RB when we could just give him a deal.

  28. i dont think its worth at this stage going for broke we count our losses and move on.
    in the last few seasons the cup exit was the start of a catastrophic run against key teams.
    vermalen has shown enough to suggest he will force his way into the first team- one game isnt really fair but with us out there will only be the fa cup to play
    ramsey is our best player at the moment as he has been the most consistent and today stands out as the best player on the pitch
    monreal has looked good and he deserves a few games in place of gibbs
    bendy is history the sooner he leaves the better
    jenks is in the last chance saloon he wont get many chances with the likes of bellerin breathing down his neck
    we need arteta/flamini back

  29. Pretty much with you all the way on that Rune. Such a shame we only have one experienced striker in the whole squad. Poldi and Walcott are better as wing men, or second strikers so we really only have Giroud. Sanogo has probably been saved a bit by his injury, but Park and Bendtner are so far off the pace its criminal.

  30. I hate Chelsea. So much time wasting, such boring football. No plan B tonight, needed a Theo or Gnabry

  31. cant stomach loosing to a team managed by mourinho i am royally pissed and feel like i have been ran over by a truck

  32. Very disappointing. Depth in some areas of the squad, but still so weak in others. Jenks appears to be really struggling now and the lack of striker options is shocking. Bendtner and Park are strikers in name only.

  33. As cliches go – big games being decided by a moment of genius or a mistake certainly rings true quite we saw both, one in each half and unfortunately both against us..TBH Bendtner and Jenks had proper shockers..Ryo tried hard but received no support..we better start getting our players back quick..Theo/AOC/Poldi/Gnabry/Sanogo would have all better starting or bench options today..

    3 huge games coming up..I will take WDD from those 3 going into the international break, after which we should have players coming back..

    All in all going out is always bad but if you had to pick one it would be this one..

  34. i hope this is a wake up call you simply cant play like that against one of your main rivals.
    i almost wish liverpool game was away. seems we cant really get into our stride at home
    we seriously lacked a leader a la flamini sometimes you just need someone to just step up and take responsibility
    ramsey tried to his credit but there was no organisation or leadership today

  35. Apart from a couple of exceptions that was a familiar tale of the last 7/8 years V Chelsea.

    It was a tough night for Jenks. I hope he comes back stronger for it & I think he will.

    I thought Ramsey & Santi were the pick – on the other hand I found Bendtner`s performance quite disgusting.

    Dust ourselves down & get ready for Saturday.

  36. Overall, a poor performance from us and AW continues his rather horrendous record of not winning a game against Mourinho. Can’t say the Chavs bossed us, they just capitalized on our errors; but that is expected, they are a good side. This game showed us what a fantastic CF Giroud is, he works so hard and creates openings for other players, we started to look more fluid with him on the pitch. The Danish clown is not even good enough to lace his boots.

  37. Did not like it at all. Sickening because of the deja vu feeling.

    We are playing them twice in the league. The challenge is for Arsene on the tactical side to change this familiar pattern of them sitting back and waiting for our mistakes. And us not looking like scoring.

    It will be difficult, and I can not say I’m looking forward to these two games.

    Rio looked good today though.

  38. No surprises and discussions on TV are already about Chelsea having done a professional job and Arsenal not offering much of a threat against one of the top Prem teams. Easy to compare against last season’s team which struggled against the big boys. We are clearly more resilient this season as we are beating the weak teams, but the games coming up have now taken on way more significance than they should.

  39. Diego

    They didn’t have to do that much, just control the game. Even when we went hunting for the goal in the second half we still didn’t threaten much. It helped that they already had a lead to defend and were able to double it, but they had it fairly easy to be honest. Loved the fact that Ramsey, Ozil, Cazorla and Giroud were giving it a go, but we can’t just rely on those guys in every single game. Thought Jack looked dangerous in spells, but he is still finding his form.
    Monreal is looking like he deserves a proper run out soon.
    What happened to the on loan goalie we brought in? If we have an option on him in the summer shouldn’t we be playing him to see if he is going to be up to the job?

  40. Bugger.

    You are right CFP. Maureen’s patented brand of boring football, park the bus when you have the lead, catch us on the break, waste time. We all know the drill. Worked again though, didn’t it?

    Déjà vu.

    Obviously if Ozil and Giroud had started the outcome may have been very different, when they came on, we instantly stepped up a gear. Alas, too late by then. They just sat back and soaked it up. Arsene has too many players injured right now, choices were even more limited than usual ahead of such a big game at the weekend.

    Ray Wilkins goes on the list as well. Hang on, just checked, he was already on it. Silly me.

    I realise, once again, how much I loathe us losing to that preening tit in any competition. Even a friendly would turn my stomach. Ah well.

    Here’s to Saturday.

  41. and we must be the only team in the universe that make the other team look more like scoring from a corner they are defending..


    but bring on suarez and sturridge.. 🙂

  42. Yup, we need a quality back-up for Giroud, hopefully in January. Bendy, although understandably rusty and lacking in confidence, clearly isn’t it.

  43. Well, after successfully avoiding all resident Gooners in NYC and quite a few tossers who tried their best to tell me the result but who’s calls/texts were instantly rejected and summarily deleted, I arrive home to find my darling Fiancee sitting down watching tv on the sofa and the first words out of her mouth are……..

    “Sorry honey, I saw the result. Pity, quarter-finals was it?”

    ……..Cue dog being dragged around the block, with semi-crazed Irishman mumbling all sorts of threats under his breath, the vast majority of which concerned the cancellation of certain wedding plans.


  44. It was very obvious we lacked genuine goal threat, i believe too many of our players are team players. By that i mean everybody would rather pass than shoot. We miss Theo and Podolski, Theo more because he took an enormous amount of shots from wing and they went in usually.

    I really like players who have rockets for a left foot or a right foot and shoot often.

    Mix it up a little, we are not always going to thread eye of the needle passes.

  45. It gets very irritating to me when it is evident the passing into the net thing isn’t working and it isn’t our day, yet we persist with it. That’s the one aspect of our game i don’t like.

    I love this team but try something else once in a while when it isn’t working! 🙂

  46. I have to confess to trying to explain we were not in the quarters yet but would have been if we had won. She then asked how come the season lasted so long if there were only 3 games left? I then tried to explain that this was just the league cup, not the league itself. She then asked why we were playing a German team recently? I then explained that was the Champions League. She then asked about the Champions League. After just about getting a grip on all of that, she asked how many games we played in one season. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of including FA Cup games in my answer……

    Approx. 43 minutes later we both agreed she would never get football, just like I cannot see how shoe shopping can ever be “fun!”

  47. Mel – I hear you but it was a very diluted team, with Bendy at its head. Against the Chavs I think we kind of expected to concede at least once. Jenks was a bad mistake, outside of that we may have been in with a chance had it stayed 0-0.

    By the way Poldi is back in training, so he should be close to coming back. Maybe in time for Man U?

  48. Unfortuantely, this result does highlight the areas that we are quite weak in. Granted, if we had not gotten hammered by the injury gods, our available selection for tonight could have been much different.

    I just worry that the team seem to be getting weary and worn down at the worst possible time of the season so far. We desperately need Walcott Podolski and Flamini back if we are to keep up the pace we have set so far.

    I am quietly fearing for the game against the mug smashers. I fear we may be catching them at the wrong time, and they may be catching us at the right time for them.

  49. I know Moe, I know. Sigh. I think if AW had more options available, it would have been different. Be great to finally have Theo back.

    Never mind, as JJ says, Suarez on Saturday. Oh.

    Women, eh Irish?

    Can’t live with them and you can’t live with them.

    Ok, ok, I’ll get me coat. G’night.

  50. I don’t really blame Bendtner, he wasn’t bad but he’s not what we need.

    We need a more selfish striker who can score, Suarez fit the bill , whisper it quietly but so does Sturridge…

    Nevertheless we are the Arsenal!

    Bring on Liverpool!


  51. Harry

    Yeah we were missing options, Theo, the Ox and Podolski will inject some life and by the way I actually thought Ryo did great!

    But dare I say it? Is the Ozil factor wearing off?

    Questions, questions…..

  52. I think Ozil wasn’t really the player we needed.
    Where does he play? Does AW go 4-4-2 to stick him upfront, or does he wander about out wide looking a bit lost?

    Flamini was a good acquisition, but Ozil is much too similar to present players. Could have done with getting Suarez. Or Sturridge.

    As someone else said, the marvellous Theo and the dangerous Podolski can’t come back soon enough.

  53. I think questioning the Ozil purchase after a defeat in the least important competition in England is a bit rich.

    Quite a fickle bunch it seems.

  54. Wavey

    Mate, though I was expecting a loss, I was hoping for a much better performance. Mourinho has been using the same tactics against us for quite a long time and he has been greatly successful. I remember the League cup final in 2007 when we took the lead through Theo and were cruising; we were actually dominating them for long periods; but Chavs absorbed all the pressure and struck back through Drogba twice to lift the cup. The only difference in this game is that neither side was dominant. Agree with you about Monreal, he deserves a chance. I am hoping that this defeat will serve as a wakeup call and players will put in a much better performance against L’pool.

  55. Come on, Ozil. Really?

    This game and specially this year, is the least of our concerns. This year is about the league and the champions league.

    I’m glad we are done with it, more upset that we played more senior players than we should. We should have let the kids play it all.

  56. Jenkinson will get a lot of grief as it was as Flint would say “a suicide goal” but the kid was as nervous as shit and not for the first and the gulf between him and an inform Sagna is enormous, something that AW has to address.
    What did anyone really expect from Bendtner he hasn’t exactly been the world class player he thinks he is yet our midfield play is always a pleasure to watch but we hardly ever penetrated their back four.
    Many players on both sides have has very little game time and Essien and Etoo are both shadows of the players they were.
    I never expected us to win but in all honesty I had expected alittle more from our attacking play.We could play that game half a dozen times and most probably the result would be the same.
    Ryo is nowhere near ready to play against this type of opposition and again it’s simply lack of quality squad strength that just undoes us.
    This maybe a minority opinion but I have been disappointed with Ozil in our last two games (forgiving him the Dortmund game as he had a virus)he had the best part of 30 minutes to impose himself yet didn’t.
    Park, well the least said about him the better.What a strange buy.

    Saturday is what really matters and hopefully we can bounce back.

  57. Well 42million for a winger who is not actually a winger is er winging it a bit. Spending money for the sake of it often results in misallocated capital. Of course its easy for me to say Arsenal should have spent 50 mill in pursuit of Suarez or 25 million in pursuit of Sturridge. Spending other peoples money is easy. But I cant help feeling Ozil is a vanity purchase to silence the whingers and whiners. Hopefully he shows me to be a complete moron and scores 25 goals and becomes Our version of Bale. Against Chelsea we needed someone to unlock their decence which actually not that easy. Even Messi struggled.

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