Chelsea Preview: Fawlty Arsenal or Towering Performance?

Football, Greavsie said, was a funny old game back in the day and it remains so today. Take Antonio Conte. The Italian claimed Chelsea were skint and couldn’t match the wages offered to Alexis. This presumably isn’t the same Chelsea who are about to thrown close to £1bn redeveloping Stamford Bridge? Or would if it wasn’t going to block out someone’s light.

Meanwhile, Robin van Persie celebrated his return to Feyenoord by proclaiming Arsène Wenger as “the best manager in the world”. This presumably isn’t the same van Persie who left Arsenal under a cloud to go and win trophies elsewhere.

Of course, he qualified his declaration. Wenger was the best for his career. It’s incredible that so many ex-players believe Wenger is the best thing since sliced bread yet so many of them took a look around in their prime and decided “Nah, we won’t win anything”.

But winning things is something we have been doing in recent years, particularly domestic cups. Tonight we fight for the right to fill the only domestic gap on Arsène’s CV. Last season’s champions and this season’s champions-elect stand in our way with lightning needing to strike twice if we’re to lift the cup.

It’s not an important cup per se; we know that and so does Arsène but winning it buys him a little time. A bit of breathing space from the unending round of criticism which he mostly brings upon himself. Just the small matter of winning tonight to give himself that chance.

Departures and arrivals impact on the side. Fortunately, Olivier Giroud is injured otherwise we’d probably see him dropped because his head isn’t in the right place what with the Dortmund move on the cards. £50m is the latest bid according to the press.

 I Think I Got Away With It

And none from the manager. After last week’s innocuous comments sent the Germans into a tizzy, goodness knows what they will think with Wenger telling the world the current state of play. It’s the football equivalent of Fawlty Towers; “Don’t mention Aubameyang. I did once but I think I got away with it…what’s the next Aubameyang, sorry, question.”

Anyway, enough of the prawn Gazidis, sorry, press questions; on with tonight’s match.

A goal, a goal, my Wembley kingdom for a goal. We need to score; Henrikh can’t do it, having appeared as a sub already in the competition for United. We once more rely on the attacking prowess of Nacho Monreal. The Spaniard trained yesterday so looks like he will be playing tonight.

Chelsea boosted their chances of doing scoring by making sure Alvaro Morata isn’t fit. The question for Wenger is whether he changes Saturday’s line-up and if so, who makes way for Aaron Ramsey? My guess is that Granit Xhaka will slip back into the Elneny role or at a push, Iwobi drops out.

The prospect of an unchanged line-up strikes me as slim, particularly since Dave will be primed to take over from Petr Cech as per usual. With a handsome 20-minute spell like Saturday’s the temptation is to think why worry about changing a winning formula? True, especially with a six-day rest before the next game.

We shouldn’t be blind to the poverty of Crystal Palace’s performance in the first half. We weren’t flattered by the 4 – 0 interval lead, but nor should it be the case we think this will be as easy.

I’ll be surprised if Ramsey starts tonight with the prospect of extra-time making caution the by-word. With a fourth substitute available for the final 30 minutes if needed, will that change Arsène’s thinking?

VARiety is the Spice of Life

The VAR once again rears its ugly head. The change this evening is that incidents referred to Stockley Park will be relayed across the big screens. Ostensibly, it’s so the crowd know what’s going on. I’d say it’s also for the referee’s benefit; he can see his cock-up immediately and change his mind. Apparently not. It’s going to be some kind of graphic which says, “Referred to the VAR but we can’t show you it because it’s a controversial incident and you’re all football hooligans who will go on the rampage if you see it.”

Not that the VAR covered itself with glory last time around. Teething problems, they called it. I say it because they have a Premier League referee watching the action. The same ineptitude off the pitch as on it.

A new generation of specialist VAR’s is needed. No need for secrecy over identities – who is that masked man? – but qualified referees who are completely detached from the Premier League, who never officiate at the grounds. They don’t need that experience to watch a television screen to see whether or not a foul has been committed. Millions of us do it every night of the week.

We know it’s an obvious error if the match official refers it to the VAR. Their mindset is, “Oooh, that’s a bit dodgy; let someone else take the flak for not giving that decision” and that’s how it is working out.

Anyway, hopefully, we’ll win by 3 – 0 without the need for VAR.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

126 thoughts on “Chelsea Preview: Fawlty Arsenal or Towering Performance?

  1. C:
    Wavey,

    Yea, I thought defensively though Iwobi did really well especially helping out.

    Yeah had Moses in his back pocket. Got kinda embarrassing 😉

  2. C,

    Can’t deny that and if that were all he was on the pitch for it would be fine. Unfortunately he’s meant to be one of our attacking players and he looks good, but doesn’t actually do anything.

  3. Can’t fault the effort in the second half. Quality? Not a lot. Still, beating Chelsea is a pleasure. Well done.

  4. Wavey,

    Agree but I think that’s why I’m most excited by Mhkitaryan because he will add that quality and ability and contrary to popular belief, he doesn’t mind tracking back. The thing is though, Conte expects Moses and Alonso to help in the attacking third and both Iwobi and Bellerin did really well and Bellerin got forward which helped on the right too.

  5. consolsbob,

    Yup, we had just enough quality and defensively you have to give credit to Mustafi and Kos particularly after our recent CB defending for doing the job.

    Elneny was massive though

  6. Wavey,

    Bit harsh, he’s a young lad finding his feet in the deep end. You can fizz passes at him and he controls it more often than not. Plus it was his composure on the half way line and vision that lead to the second goal. Being an attacker in this team i imagine you need to be a freestyler.

    But I agree, he shouldn’t be starting and soon he won’t be. Excellent back up tho from the back garden.

  7. consolsbob,

    Honestly, Nacho is one of the most underrated Arsenal players since I’v been following for about 20 years.

    I think Elneny was MOTM but Nacho is never a bad choice.

  8. andy1886,

    I’m slightly curious tbh to see how this window turns out. If all goes to plan and the right noises are made in May he’ll have his last year with my blessing.

  9. Orson Kaert:
    Sky made the MotM ………NACHO MONREAL.🔔🔔🔔

    Fair play, lead by example throughout. Moe I think still edges it for me cos he’s never first eleven, has it all still to prove and bossed it.

  10. Full credit to Lacazette too, he didm’t score and I know that’s what you pay the big bucks for but FFS he might be the best all-around CF in the PL between his work rate, hold and link up play and his movement. The goals will come but his ability to do everything else really well too is a huge part.

  11. C,

    Might have been 7Am who suggested laca was the replacement for Alexis. With Pete coming in its starting to look that way.
    Can’t say I’m too disappointed, he may not score as many but won’t lose the ball as much.

  12. Always a surprise when we get a good result against another of the big teams. We didn’t make very much happen on the attacking end and ended up with 2 goals that required some fortunate deflections. However we won which is all that matters. Full credit goes to our much maligned team defense for holding them 1 goal in 200 minutes. It does not take a team full $75M defensive players to build a solid defense. We have adequate defensive players if we could just find that proper ethos and apply it consistently.

  13. Kos’ Achilles is certainly a concern and another experienced CB to replace Mert would be helpful. However, the place we need to rebuild is upfront. We are loaded to the gills with creative technical players but even with all of the skill our passing game frequently loses its bite. The one thing we will certainly miss with Sanchez is his ability to create his own scoring opportunities and score goals out of nothing when our passing game bogs down. We are dreadfully short of firepower and you can get by for a few games but we can’t hope for Nacho/Kos/ Xhaka/Iwobe to continue to score goals on a regular basis.

  14. Colts,

    It’s not so much anything against Iwobi, it’s the fact that he is deemed to have been good enough to be part of the first XI. He clearly has natural talent, but needs to be coached to help him develop his game. Learning on the job doesn’t work in professional football, especially when there is no teaching involved. Being thrown in at the deep end and asked to just get on with it only works for exceptionally talented players. Iwobi needs guidance, not just game time.

  15. Man City have lost interest in Jonny Evans, they are activating the £57 million release clause in Aymeric Laporte’s contract.

    Which means that we can probably get him in a swap deal by offering a bag of marbles and four copies of the Beano.

  16. Arsene Wenger was asked about Arsenal’s pursuit of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang following last night’s win over Chelsea.

    The club have already had two bids rejected.

    Wenger said: “If something happens it happens, if it doesn’t happen then we are strong enough.

    “I am perfectly happy with the players I have. We got Henrikh Mkhitaryan in and I have a strong squad.”

    Can’t say I’d be happy Arsene – Sanchez for Mkhi is a downgrade, plus we’ve sold Le Coq and Walcott. We would be weaker, no doubt about it.

    Also saw a story this morning about Auba being a disruptive influence in the Dortmund dressing room. Sounds suspiciously similar and a potentially convenient excuse if it all falls through.

  17. andy1886,

    Also, it is quite possible this is a negotiating tactic with the Germans – they know Auba wants to leave and have been pushing the price ever higher so bluffing that they might gorgo the deal altogether makes sense at this point.

  18. Jonny,

    I also saw that part of the hold up is Dortmund want a ready made replacement with either Giroud coming on loan until the end of the season or they purchase one now with one report saying Dolberg of Ajax tops their list.

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