Chelsea Preview: 999 Games & A Problem Is One Of Them

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The precedent came when Ian Wright whipped off his shirt to reveal a white vest with a bold red “179” emblazoned across it. The trouble was he was celebrating goal 178 at the time. You could draw the parallel to the replayed Sheffield United cup-tie. Arsenal agreed to replay a tie won by a dubious goal. The original result was scrubbed and the game declared ‘void’ for that season’s FA Cup. Personally I think the decision to replay the game was taken too quickly because there have been hundreds since decided by debatable moments; none replayed, of course. But that game is more of a problem in that it is counts toward Arsène’s 1,000. A game declared void apparently counts as a proper match. Like this morning’s playlist, football has 999 Problems And A Game IS One Of Them (also on the right sidebar under Dad’s Jukebox).

Which means Game 1K, as it is to be known, is next week at home to Swansea City and that is something I find altogether more agreeable in terms of the opposition, their manager and well, everything in general by comparison to the odiousness of Chelsea, their manager, and Manchester City. The  feels like the ultimate battle between good and evil. That moral judgement is too strong for life in general, there is no doubt it is apposite. The perceptions of the managers involved in today’s clash fits entirely into the mould of The Magnificent Seven or any of the Star Wars films. If Mourinho is evil, then good will always triumph. It does because Hollywood tells us that and the movies never lie.

The football crew, the reporters might all sit in his awe, rapt by his every word but to the layman, Jose Mourinho yesterday was the lunatic lurching dementedly, shouting, “I AM NOT BITTER“, as he gracelessly offered his view on Wenger’s tenure at Arsenal. Perhaps he has a point; they are different men from different backgrounds with different mentalities and the same applies to the clubs. You would expect he and Wenger to have much in common with success absent in their playing careers, and, ah, there’s the rub, Mourinho isn’t a proper footballing man, never having made the grade. The translator, as he is disparagingly known in Barcelona, never was a player but possesses shoulders so broad he can carry a chip shop on each to compensate.

It is a return to the good old days, managerial spats feeding what had been a genteel celebratory build-up. Perhaps that is what was needed to snap the support out of a reverie, refocusing minds to the task in hand. We’ve had our week of reflection, now to the fight for the end of the season. However we may classify it – karma, manners or whatever – to achieve the win to allow the party to take place will need the players to concentrate fully this afternoon; anything less and Wenger’s wretched record against teams managed by Mourinho will continue.

This is a match Arsenal cannot afford to lose. Sitting four points behind with a game in hand, a draw really isn’t enough to wrest control of their own destiny but defeat ends the faint flicker of their title hopes. Manchester City remain firmly in control of where the champions are crowned but the fly in the ointment comes in the shape of their remaining fixtures with trips to Old Trafford, The Emirates and Anfield still to come. Three wins in the next week and Arsenal change that landscape. If Wenger felt that the last few seasons and the chase for fourth have been mentally tough, the same applies this time around. Except I am sure he is enjoying this season more.

Arsenal head into the fray with their bare bones suffering once more, Tomas Rosicky is a doubt with an ankle injury which flew under everyone’s radar until yesterday. Having settled the North London Derby with a superbly taken strike, the confidence would be oozing through a player who rarely lacks that quality. It would be a shame for him to miss today but if he does, presumably Podolski remains on the left-hand side instead of dropping out in a slight reshuffle. The midfield offers an interesting comparison, a sense of the baton passing for the national team. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has the potential to take Frank Lampard’s attacking instincts and put them into an altogether more refined style. If he has a similar goal return to the Chelsea midfielder, there will be few complaints from the stands.

The lack of options provides some comfort as well concern. From a settled side comes understandings and partnerships. That can only be of benefit on the pitch with players knowing where colleagues will be. It is naïve to believe Chelsea will be as ineffective in attack as Tottenham and Eden Hazard might be leaving Marc Wilmots disappointed with his contributions but Mourinho can have few complaints about his Chelsea performances. Arsenal cannot afford to retreat into their shells as they did at White Hart Lane, you feel that some of the attacks which develop as a result of that will be more effective than those faced last weekend. That said, the combative play from Aston Villa last Saturday offered the solutions. Perhaps Wenger’s settled side is not quite so settled after all with the match seeming to favour a starting place for Mathieu Flamini.

This afternoon requires big performances from all the Arsenal players but not least from Olivier Giroud. His off-the-field activities have distracted and I am sure affecting him on the pitch. A good performance today would answer some questions, particularly about scoring in big matches. As central striker, his role is to make a difference in the big matches not just those Arsenal are expected to win. It would certainly underline his value and importance to the side if he could find some consistency in these situations, especially with chances likely to be at a premium against what is still the Premier League’s most parsimonious defence. Chelsea’s problem has been at the other end of the pitch. Not that Arsenal are any better. If fact, they aren’t having scored three goals less.

I would expect the line-up to be:

Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Arteta, Flamini; Rosicky, Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Giroud

Mind you I think I said something similar last weekend and Arsène’s decision to select Podolski paid off with the three points travelling down the Seven Sisters in the right direction. Taking a similar extra load home on the team coach today would be similarly welcome.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

327 thoughts on “Chelsea Preview: 999 Games & A Problem Is One Of Them

  1. Gee highbury, I’ve been a supporter for going on 44 years, and was fairly prolific on these boards in years gone by. It is largely the likes of you and your ilk that have dimmed my enthusiasm. Quite why everyone else has to be subjected to your self righteous pontificating and exclusive opinions escapes me, but I’m sure it’s the gigantic proportions of your twatishness that serves to feed your ego. Now fuck off.

  2. Consol Robert Johnson is part of Blues folk lore. He’s the man that is credited with having meet a metaphysical apparition at a Cross Roads and sold his Soul so that he could be come a virtuoso player of he guitar.

  3. more than likely though, with AW’s woeful record against mourinho (and top sides in general) he was out to win this one..

    which in my humblestest honestest opinionated opinion of opinions, lead to the chaaaarge of the arsene knows best light brigade, eventually leading to our downfall…(after 10 minutes) , (again)…

    me? personally…would have shut up shop and played on the back foot asking chelsea and their 85 year old striker to break us down, with us counterattacking, much like we did against bayern and taken the draw if neccessary.. and played with defensive stability first and foremost like we have for 95 percent of the season (except for when weve played city, liverpool and now chelsa)

    should know by now what our strengths are by now but there you go…hes abit predictable and cuckoo like that at times.. (much like highbury).

    his big game tactics have totally gone down the shitter..escpecially in the last 10 years which would explain why weve never won anything in that time and would probably explain why hes never won the cl in 100 attempts.. seeing as though once you get passed the fodder in the group stages they are all big games and weve only made the semis and got passed them once..

    just a thought…

  4. Consol forgot to ask what is your curry tonight. I’m originally from Birmingham( not Alabama) Home to the Balti Belt- a 3 square mile of Brum that has some of the finest Curry emporiums. I’m over next week working. I’ll be having a curry or 2 alright

  5. agreed JJ.

    considering our piss poor form v the big boys , Wenger should have tried something different like playing Tv in front of the defence. played flamini. played goonabry and le ox on wings as out lets with tv pinging long balls from our backline.

  6. The sending off Gibbs for the Ox is farcical to say the least..it just sums up the day really. Case of mistaken identity. I bet TW is thinking he’s lucky he was not playing today

  7. it truly baffles me dukey
    we spend 85 minutes defending against bayern and spurs and get results..

    he didnt buy a top quality striker and weve got our key attackers injured, yet on the back of the previous results and performances he tried to attack v chelsea…on their own ground..

    wtf

  8. It really does blow the mind why Wenger keeps doing the same stupid mistake over and over , it must really grate on Wenger if we win playing defensive or playing ugly, he must go home and drown it out with a bottle of Courvoisier and swear blind he will do it the Wenger way next time….which he can’t. the annoying thing is we are a really good team when we play defensive.

  9. I have no intention of watching MOTD, or looking at the paper tomorrow.

    However, I would be interested to know from those who saw the match whether it was a penalty at all, and whether, if it was, was it really a sending off offence, was it a goal scoring opportunity, unless, the rule is that a hand ball in the area is an authomatic red card. (if that is the case, then our player should have been sent off at Stoke).

    I saw someone here say the ball was going wide anyway.

  10. @ Jigs it was a penalty. It was blatant hand ball by the Ox it was going wide possibly for him to know that is a matter of conjecture in the heat of the moment. Nite.. No MOTD for me..Will not be able to stomach the gloating etc..

  11. Nothing complicated, Ras. Just a vindaloo, albeit chicken and not pork. As a past tripper to Goa in the 70’s, it remains a favourite.

    Blues is a blind spot of mine, despite being a contemporary of those that followed the icons in the sixties and seventies. I suppose I like mine a little diluted.

  12. Highbury, I think you should have some ribs removed. Apparently you would be able to suck yourself off then according to some Italian count, or in your case, c………

  13. No point analyising that perfomance, there was just too much wrong with it. Technically the red should have been a yellow…..the ball was going wide. Not that it would have made much difference, we were 2nd all over the pitch.

  14. Bob – There are so many variations of the blues, but you cant beat delta blues with slide guitar.

  15. Goonerandy.

    WE may have been 2nd over the pitch, but that was only after 15 minutes.

    Surely, even 3 0 down, after 15 minutes, they would have had time to pull themsleves together and make a fight of it.

    Who knows, without the obvious upset of seeing Gibbs wrongly sent off, perhaps WS might have saved the penalty.

    75 minutes is a lot of time. So, whilst the first 15 minutes would have been bad, the rest of the game was influenced gratly by the sending off.

    Is it too much to hope that we will not continue to be the subject of such abject refereeing?

  16. Yes.

    AS far as I recall, a football match lasts 90 minutes.

    3 0 down is not unsurmountable and much better than 6 0.

    However, 3 0 down and a player light is impossible.

    Getting 3 0 down after 15 minutes is the team’s responsibility.

    6 0 is largely the ref’s.

  17. clutching at straws jjsol..
    game was done inside 10 minutes..
    girouds pony, our attacking threat has been none existant in most big games this season, we cant even score 1 goal in 180minutes v utd there was no chance we were scoring a hatful against the best defence in the league at their ground against a manager wenger doesnt know how to beat…
    no chance..10 men 11 men doesnt matter we were getting humped..
    i suppose its easy to blame the ref than it is to look at the facts and tell it as it is..

    we were shit and wenger struggles with inner demons on tactics, signing players he needs and keeping his players fit..

  18. Snippet from the Sky website:

    “That point is exemplified by the tale of two strikers on Saturday. Considering the events that followed, it is quite easy to forget that Olivier Giroud spurned a fantastic chance to open the scoring for Arsenal. His scuffed shot failed to test Petr Cech and moments later, Eto’o’s sublime finish gave Chelsea a lead from which they never looked back. It is a point often made, but if Wenger had serious plans to challenge for the title this season, he should have ensured that he had enough cover in his squad. To pursue Luis Suarez, fail in that pursuit, and then not sign an alternative either before the end of the summer or in January is alarming negligence that will continue to raise doubts over whether the manager should extend his contract.”

    jjgsol

    I don’t think being down to 10 men is the reason our midfield players kept giving the ball away with sloppy passing, they were doing that when we had 11 on the pitch.

  19. Wavey

    You don’t attempt to spend 40M for a striker if you already have one that is good enough to be the regular for a title contending team.

  20. Wavey.

    You are correct. However, when your confidence is shot, then you simply cannot do even what comes naturally.

    15 minutes in , and a wrongly sent off player down, the poor passing would ahve been inevitable.

    I am not saying the sending of was the cause of the defeat, but simply the main reason why it was as bad as it was.

  21. jjgsol

    my point was that the passing was bad from the kick off. Maybe later in the game in the games after conceding 2 or 3 early goals there is a bit of a desire by players to get rid of the ball as soon as it comes to them, but early in the game there is no excuse.

  22. It probably shouldn’t have been a red card but then you can’t really blame the ref for awarding it. Ox thought it was going in for a goal and that is why he tried to save it. It was close enough to understand its award.

    And with 10 or 11 it was going to be a big defeat. Panic had set in, as demonstrated by Ox’s goal keeping attempt and the numerous poor passes by the entire team.

    You could in fact say that at 10 v 11 Chelsea took their foot off the gas a bit and we finally decided to defend a bit more. The score could have been worse 11 v 11. We will never know but we would have been smashed.

  23. One can blame the ref, as he is highly paid to do his job, for which he is supposed to be skilled.

    What the Ox thought was irrelevant.

    What seems to be the case, Wavey, is that in the big games we seem to start very nervously. That leads to mistakes and, in these 3 early kick offs, those mistakes have led to goals.

    BY the way, YW, I am having problems in writing my comments. Is there a fault on the site?

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