Chelsea Review: Job Done With VARying Degrees of Success

Chelsea 0 – 0 Arsenal

The final score was as good as we might have hoped for. It might have been worse, it might have been better; it definitely was a re-run of September’s Premier League match with added VARiety. That joke, such as it is, may turn sour quickly.

It’s a place to start. Martin Atkinson made a great play of cupping his hand over his headset to let us know he was consulting the VAR, who for the evening was Neil Swarbrick situated in a bunker somewhere outside of London. Probably in the Teletubbies house and now that thought has entered my head, I so want it to be in the Teletubbies house.

“So, Neil, did I get that wrong?”
“Not according to Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po. However, if I look at Tinky-Winky, it’s a different story.”

Antonio Conte rushed onto the pitch post-match, to remonstrate over the lack of injury time added after` Atkinson listened to Swarbrick ruminating over his Tinky-Winky screen after Danny Welbeck tackled Cesc in the final minutes. We were still wondering why Hazard got a penalty when all we got was a Chelsea goal-kick under similar circumstances.

As it happened, Tinky-Winky didn’t squeal penalty and Swarbrick went for a Po.

If VAR brings consistency in the application of the Laws of the Game, it will be a success. Somehow I don’t think that is coming anytime soon.

Arsène fielded a similar side. Welbeck and Iwobi partnering Alexandre Lacazette in the ten-man defence which sporadically broke out into attack. Alexis came on to replace Lacazette in a predictable move and ran around a lot, passing it forward to Thibaut Courtois as Arsenal had for most of the evening.

The Past is the Present and the Future is Now

Post-match, Arsène said something about giving Alexis a breather in the middle of the season making him fresher for the remaining five months. Pep Guardiola texted his thanks shortly after that TV interview.

Wenger also confirmed Francis Coquelin’s move to Valencia which brought some bizarre redefining of his contribution to the Arsenal cause over the past few seasons. He was, however, a good example of Matt Hughes chiding in this morning’s Times which labelled the current team “journeymen”.

In many ways, it was a Graham-template performance which you may remember as much-maligned and mocked. Sell Alexis this month and we may get the mid-table finish to complete the retro look.

Chelsea once again spurned good opportunities to take the lead; Christiansen the offender this time while Ospina saved our bacon on more than one occasion. It wouldn’t be a Dave performance without a couple of brain farts and the Colombian didn’t disappoint his legion of fans on that score.

It wouldn’t be Arsenal without ruing missed chances. The evening’s biggest culprit was Alex Iwobi. A moment of redemption beckoned after a surging run but at the key moment, he was blinded by glory’s light. Courtois gently picked up Iwobi’s scuffed shot as the youngster resumed his role of cartoon villain.

He wasn’t the only one seeking some kind of rebirth after the weekend. Holding was assured(ish) in defence with Chambers and Mustafi, with the trio containing Morata and forcing Hazard to the periphery where he hit the deck to his heart’s content.

Meh Can Be Good

If this all seems a bit ‘meh’ that’s because it is. Don’t get me wrong, the result is good and achieved the aim of being in the tie for the second leg in a fortnight’s time. Good stuff but uninspiring. Which, after Sunday’s gubbing, is a good thing, an outbreak of common sense in team selection and tactics.

It came at a cost. Jack Wilshere went to block the ball and it cannoned off his foot causing an ankle ligament strain, and not a sprain as initially claimed. The weekend is too soon for him but Arsène’s notoriously unreliable medical reports claim it’s nothing serious. Stan looked at it and probably knocked £10k per week off the contract offer.

So there we have it. We got a draw (yay!) through a defensive performance (yay!) but it wasn’t convincing (boo!). With the VAR, we have a pantomime villain waiting in the wings for the second leg.

’til Tomorrow.

74 thoughts on “Chelsea Review: Job Done With VARying Degrees of Success

  1. Journeymen. Just about correct for this squad.

    Not a bad result but doesn’t really address the current state of affairs.

    File under ‘So what’.

  2. Let me join the party to try and bring the average age down a bit.

    Result, I’ll take it. I’ll take it even a step further, it was very Mourinho-esque in not caring about attack.

    I will say though, the fact that Iwobi started last night was quite annoying given the party thing and his last performance, it feels like Iwobi is the new Ramsey a couple seasons ago: Arsene will play him regardless of performance or team balance and hope he comes consistent.

  3. This match got beaten in the final minutes of added time, I was trying to refresh the page on my mobile phone walking past a dark bend after a mosque when some bike pulled up and the guys descended with daggers and kicked my legs out until I gave up the phone. So a draw was a good result, a loss would have been double trouble.

  4. This match got me beaten in the final minutes of added time, I was trying to refresh the page on my mobile phone walking past a dark bend after a mosque when some bike pulled up and the guys descended with daggers and kicked my legs out until I gave up the phone. So a draw was a good result, a loss would have been double trouble.

  5. Seems that Arsene has plans to keep our young Greek defender, Mavropanos:

    “I personally want to keep him until May to know him better, to asses his level.

    “The first signs he has shown are so encouraging that I decided to keep him until May.”

  6. Hmm, this Sanchez talk sounds familiar.

    Arsene wants to keep him, just like in the summer, City want to buy him, just like the summer, he wants to leave (still), but Arsene will not let him leave until we have a replacement (talk of Malcom rather than Lemar this time).

    Do you think that:

    A) We will actually deal with the situation efficiently, be that sell and bank the money or actually get on with signing a replacement and then let him go, or

    B) Prat around until the last day of the window, realise that he’s not going to perform half as well if we keep him, then make a desperate last minute bid for someone that fails leaving us with the worst of all situations?

    Based on the fact that we never learn and Wenger still seems to think that he might extend with us (he’s the only one) I know where my money is.

  7. Damon,

    I mean wouldn’t surprise me since they spent the whole month of August trying to get rid of him.

    Hey, maybe we will get Evans then 🙁

  8. Sky Sports are reporting that Manure have made a last ditch effort to sign Sanchez in a deal that would include Mkhitaryan + cash.

    I very much dislike Mourinho and Manure but if it was Citeh for 20m or United for Mkhitaryan + cash, I would make the United deal happen and do everything I can to then sign a striker like Dembele of Celtic.

    The talk of a meeting between Arsenal and Bordeaux over a Malcom deal is funny cause I don’t see Arsenal paying the £40m they want for him unless it was like the Gabriel deal with Valencia that sends like Iwobi to them on loan.

  9. Problem with Malcom, Andy, is that his ‘economic rights’ are 50% owned by Bordeaux and 50% by agents. Given we find it hard to negotiate with a club, adding in a third party means a deal will be more protracted than usual.

  10. YW,

    Nope, have no interest in sending Chambers to WBA for Evans. Chambers isn’t a bad CB as he showed on loan and for England, problem is at Arsenal he doesn’t get proper coaching.

    Evans for me is a good CB but if we are truly set to spend 35m for Evans than there are a couple CB’s in the Bundesliga and Rugani of Juve that would cost the same.

  11. YW,

    Wouldn’t mind Malcom as he is more of a goal scorer than either of Pavon or Lemar but as with all of them, they are young so I wonder if Gooners would be ‘okay’ with them being billed as the replacement for Sanchez and would need time to bed into both the team and the PL.

    I wonder if people like Bill wouldn’t be on their back immediately should they not score a goal within their first 4-5 matches.

  12. Thanks for the review Yogi

    A really good result given the fact that we were heavy underdogs with a lot of injuries and the player who has been our only legitimate goal scoring threat in the last month not starting. Really solid defensive performance which was nice to see after the shambles that we saw against Nottingham Forest. It certainly demonstrates our Jekyll and Hyde mentality on the defensive end. I have always thought the players we have are more then adequate to build a solid defense if we had a proper team defensive ethos but I just don’t see us ever being consistent at the back with the current team culture.

  13. I’d take the Armenian boy from United for Sanchez. At the very least, he should be hungry?

    A bidding war in what was a one horse race is a very good thing.

    Chambers for Evans? What are they smoking at The Hawthorns?

  14. Damon,

    On the manager thing from yesterday.

    Having followed Silent Stan’s clubs here in the States, I’m not sure he is willing to pay Arsene’s wages to a new manager no matter the experience level. I think the thing is, what exactly does Stan want, does he do what he ended up doing with the Rams (going with a young highly thought after assistant and give him a lower pay wage but incentivize the shit out of it) or does he go with a a journeyman manager but I DO not see him going with a highly experienced manager like Ancelloti who is not only going to want a pay packet to match his CV but also want funds to spend to build his team.

  15. C

    Malcom has 7 goals in 18 appearances this season which is OK. He is only 20 years old, however, we have seen over the years that more often then not players with “great potential” end up disappointing a lot more often then they live up to expectations. The problem is that we won’t know which sort of player he will be for several years and more likely then not we will use a lot of first team minutes for several years for a player who might be the next Danny Welbeck. The other problem is that coming to Arsenal in this decade has invariably meant a significant decrease in goal scoring efficiency. Last season Lacazette had 28 goals in 30 league games and this year he is on 8 goals in 22 games. Betting on a player with great potential and hoping he can beat the odds and mature into a legitimate PL goal scoring threat has been a losing proposition in the past. The only success we have had in the last 10 years with buying goal scorers has been Sanchez and I think we need to replace him with a proven scorer rather. A proven player does not guarantee success but it at least it increases the chances of a good result

  16. Bill,

    Hahahaha you never let me down.

    Problem with buying a proven goal scorer, they cost a shit load and well you like I know Arsene isn’t doing that. I would rather have Dembele but there are plenty others.

  17. Didn’t watch the match but from the internet it seems Graham’s spell at the helm continues.

    I would like to suggest a solution to Arsenal’s penalty saving prb as we seem to concede one a match, yesterday’s match there is VARying opnions.
    There are two excellent shot stoppers i have come across by the names Patrick Matasia and Dennis Onyango, the former is apparently fresh form recent heroics.
    C, i wonder what your vast database has on them.

  18. C,

    I´d take that in a heart beat. Get rid of one sulky Sanchez and get a moody, slightly broken Miki.

    Yepp, you bet. I think thats a possible situation where Wenger of today might excel and have a positive outcome.

  19. Jonny Evans is underwhelming in the first place because I don’t think he is a significant upgrade over Mustafi and Kos. Evans does not striker me as a John Terry or Nemaja Vidic type CB that we can build our team around. Chambers for Evans makes the deal even more underwhelming. IMO. I guess it depends on what your thoughts are regarding Chambers long term future. There has been worry on the blog about Chambers lack of pace but I think that concern is rubbish.

  20. Right now i’d take any player who has more goal than WELBECK, so Malcon though i haven’t watched him is a welcome addition.
    We should all remember that Sanchez was good at Barca but hit his peak in terms of numbers at Arsenal, so any player promising or proven is always a gamble.

  21. C,

    Thanks for confirming. I get you now.

    I think there’s a lot more factors in play here though. Only time will tell how it plays out

  22. Occasionally we get solid evidence regarding questions we have been debating for years. Fair or not we tend to blame Arsene for almost all of our problems and in the past we have had a lot of discussion that Arsene was overusing our first team players and we heard that so often it grown into conventional wisdom. The theory was that overuse and red zones was the cause of our injury issues. The other concern was our players being chronically tired and always needing rest was partly responsible for our inconsistency. This season we have the most well rested squad of any big team in the world and we certainly don’t have anyone near the “red zone”. However, we still have plenty of injuries and we have been just as inconsistent as ever.

  23. YW,

    Yeah, I’d just take the sodding money and lock it away until Wenger has gone. No point in letting him ruin another prospect with the club paying for the pleasure. Not that anyone with half a brain and some talent would want to come anyway.

    Two thoughts on Chambers. If AW is staying on it would be in his interests to leave and get some proper coaching. If Wenger is off though I think under a decent coach who knows the value of a strong defensive unit Chambers would be an asset. As usual it’s depends on AW.

  24. YW,

    No, don´t think that Chambers is so poor that we should trade him as part of a Evans deal. He did well at Mbrough and was captain for the U23 team last summer.

    In fact I´m begining to think that Arseanal under Wenger is a defenders graveyard. We take good defenders and turn most of them them into miserable wrecks. The fact that Kos have been the mainstay of our defence for so long should give him a Nobel defense prize 🙂

  25. Damon,

    No problem.

    Yea I’m sure there other factors and things behind the scenes, the one thing though is that whoever the next man is, I would imagine they will be more focused on the squad and less focused on everything else based on how the pieces are being assembled.

  26. C:
    Bill,

    Hahahaha you never let me down.

    Problem with buying a proven goal scorer, they cost a shit load and well you like I know Arsene isn’t doing that. I would rather have Dembele but there are plenty others.

    $45M for Malcom is a lot of money. Overspending on a U21 player who has not really done anything of note but has great potential has been part of our standard operating procedure for the entire Emirates era. I honestly don’t understand how you could have watched the last 13 years and still believe that the every u21 with potential is going to be the next big thing. Skepticism seems like its the only logical response based on what we have seen during the Emirate era. No?

  27. Seriously, some tit has written into the F365 mailbox to suggest that Arsenal don’t need to look outside to replace Alexis, they should work with Iwobi to do the job.

    🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

  28. Bill,

    Not at all mate! Couple things about me, logical is not always best way to describe my thinking nor am I a skeptical person. Just because a player doesn’t come good at Arsenal doesn’t mean that all U21 players don’t come good, I mean FFS, we wouldn’t have futbolers if they didn’t come good. Do I think 30m+ is too much for Malcom, possibly but then again its a going rate.

  29. C

    I think one of the things that has characterized the Emirates era has been Arsene’s over abundance of self confidence and a very heavy dose of unrealistic optimism about how good our players will become when they mature and unrealistic dose of idealism. We have lacked logic and realism and we have failed to learn a lot of the lessons that history has tried to teach us.

  30. Bill,

    We have also lacked proper coaching, player recruitment and a lot of other stuff. I think the biggest thing that history has tried to teach us is that Arsene needs to stop getting contracts. I’m sorry but the sheer volume of players that have come through Arsenal during the Emirates era both Arsenal products and those bought, I would venture to say that under a different manager, system and club culture, things would have turned out vastly different. You want to talk logic, logically there is no way that all of the internationals and players that have come through have nearly been that bad nor have all of the youth that haven’t made it been not as good as people think. Tell you the truth, I don’t think a player like Christensen who is one of the brightest CB’s in Europe and was out on loan for several seasons would have made it at Arsenal but yet he is thriving for Chelsea. I mean look at Szczesny, he had 1.5 good seasons as he was maturing as a GK at Arsenal that were brilliant, smoked for half a season was then loaned out for 2 seasons and while on loan was superb and was only outrated in Italy by the best GK of his generation and yet Arsene didn’t want to bring him back and solidify our GK situation for the next 5+ years but instead thought that a GK clearly in his twilight years and another GK who literally we can’t give away for 2m euros was better. Now Szczesny is at Juve and there has been nothing short of glowing remarks about his maturity and performances not just by Juve and their supporters but by the whole of Italy and yet here we stand at Arsenal wanting to spend money on Butland, Pickford (yup a shit ton spent on him) and Fraser. Sorry, part of the problem with players both youth and brought in during this era was not always being coached and when things got tough they get put out to pasture instead of coached up.

  31. You know what, I’m gonna rewatch yesterday’s game (yea, it might be a pretty poor decision).

    I wanna see if this makeshift defence with Holding, Chambers and Mustafi made a difference or if Chelsea just had a poor night, again🙂.

  32. I think its a great idea to take a $2M punt of someone like Holding or Mavroponos when we already have Kos and Mustafi and Mert. However, spending $40M on a 20 year old whole has only 15 league goals in 50 appearances and putting him in our starting line up as the Sanchez replacement is probably not smart squad building.

  33. Just by watching the first 15 minutes it’s quite clear that Ospina gives the back line another let out. They give him some really harsh passes safe in the knowledge that he’s so good with his feet that it’s not a problem.

  34. Apparently Le Coq turned down a move to Valencia in the summer but decided it was now time to leave Arsenal. He said the following at his presser:

    ‘It’s true that there was interest in the summer but in my head I wanted to continue at Arsenal and do well there. It wasn’t to be and now this opportunity has come up.

    ‘I almost regret not having come before. I think it’s an excellent opportunity for me and I’m very grateful.

    ‘It’s a big challenge, and a new start in my life for me, which I’m very excited about.’

    He also said:

    ‘He (Cazorla) told me it’s an excellent club which I will not regret joining. I respect Cazorla’s opinion a lot, so when he told me this, he convinced me. I trust what he tells me.’

    Good for Le Coq and Gabriel, going from a club that is slowly declining and in disarray to one that has finally stabilized and is actually still in the hunt for the title but at the very least a CL spot.

  35. C,

    I wish him bon voyage in the best possible way, but I’m not sorry to see him go, maybe if he had a defined defensive midfield role in this team he might have had more success, best of luck to him

  36. Buckagh,

    Yup, that’s about how I feel. I wish him all the best luck but when he is not being a defined DM, his limitations are there for all to see.

  37. C @ 5:18

    I agree with your idea that arsene should have been replaced long ago. I think we should have changed managers after the team collapsed in 2011. That said, blaming him for the failure of all of the players that have come thru our system makes no sense when its clear that almost none of them went of to come close to living up to expectations when they left Arsenal and moved to a different coaching staff. The only realistic explanation is the players were just not as good as we thought and the real problem has been identifying and acquiring better players.

    All of that stuff is past history and we have discussed that issue many times in the past. With regard to our current situation we have to learn from what has happened in the past. No matter how much we love the talent and potential of a player like Malcom, we can’t expect to improve our position and get back into the top 4 anytime soon if we try to replace our leading scorer and #1 attacking threat with a 20 year old player who has a grand total of 15 league goals in his entire career.

  38. Buckagh,

    Yes, I agree with that. Think his reputation as a farmer of talent is quite of the mark. The last 10 years I think most of the talent coming our way reach a plateau and then huff and puff.

    Yes, he gives young players the chance but they don’t seem to reach that next level or those levels that we hope.

  39. I think the most confusing thing about the Le Coq and even Theo situations is that he has basically froze out Elneny and Theo unless its a cup but yet he is all set to keep them but sell Le Coq and presumably Sanhcez.

    It doesn’t make sense

  40. Now I’ve watched 70 minutes of the Chelsea game and we’re definitely defending with more resolution and conviction.

    Yes, we look shite going forward and especially after Jack went off. But we are defending with some aplomb and Elneny is not a bad option when we want to control possession and defend.

    Pretty weird way of spending ones time but I did feel pleased with us keeping a clean sheet and it doesn’t happen every day🙂.

  41. Btw, Maitland-Niles was awesome yesterday. I see no problem with selling Le Coc as AMN can be his replacement and probably will be quite good in that position.

  42. Welsh corgi cardigan,

    Maitland-Niles can be quite a player and I think the difference between him and a number of other players is that he is level-headed and his game and style is based on positioning and reading of the game. He has a calm about him.

  43. C,

    Definetly, he doesnt look awed or not being the part. A calmness and certainty that belies his years and is really exciting.

  44. Awesome is too big a word for his performance. He did well but everyone is targeting him and Chelsea enjoyed a lot of success down the flank.

    Square peg, round hole.

  45. YW,

    Yes, sorry, got maybe a bit carried away. But I think he has very much looked the part and quite impressive too.

    Think maybe it’s the real thing and we’ve found our new defensive midfielder. Really excited about seeing him next to Xhaka or Jack🙂.

  46. YW,

    Awesome is very much over used YW….rather like ‘legend’….and people starting sentences with ‘so’!!!….arrrrrgh.
    I bought something off Amazon the other day,within a day or so the company contacted me via email…..they wanted to ‘reach out to me’…..fuckin’ reach out??..can’t they just ask me?

  47. I had to leave the Virgin Wine Club because they kept calling me “guys” and telling me how awesome they were.

  48. Morning,

    United willing to pay more than City for Sanchez. Maureen on a wind up, or a genuine attempt to make sure they nail down a top 4 spot? The Arsenal hierarchy appears to have targeted a top 4 finish and a return to the CL this season, so I wonder if the extra £5m would tempt them given that they are strengthening a team regarded as a direct competitor? Personally I hate the idea of doing anything that helps Maureen and Wenger has no love for the man. Given that Sanchez appears set on joining up with Pep (he’s rumoured to have turned down a deal with PSG), I could see City stumping up the extra £5m to nail the deal down. It’s either take the money now, or get nothing in the summer but hope he performs in the last months of the season. Given how divisive he appears to have become in the dressing room, it must make more sense to take the money now.

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