the middle road

I’m neither a wide eyed optimist (though, you can’t spell optimist without “tim”) nor am I pessimist (which you can’t spell without “piss”). I am a realist. And in reality, Arsenal got beat yesterday, fair and square.

Yes, I know Dogbag was offside. So what? They had been lobbing balls into our box all day and the defense had failed to deal with them time and again. Yes, I know that Chelsea are a bunch of dirty scum who played the ball back “accidentally” into the Arsenal corner for a throw in — and then defended it. Yeah, that’s what Chelsea do. Hell, I thought they were on good behavior yesterday. None of that changes the fact that this Arsenal defense was not good enough in the air, nor really on the ground.

What Arsenal were very good at was the midfield. Whenever Chelsea tried to build up — Flamini and Co. was there to win the ball back, harass, and run circles around Chelsea’s fat old men. In fact, when the game started I commented that Arsenal looked very assured in the midfield.

While Arsenal’s midfield defense was solid the midfield attack never seemed able to slip past a very organized Chelsea defense. Too often Cesc’s passes fizzled, or he turned the ball over carelessly. In fact, the whole midfield attack looked completely lost.

Which leads me to “up front.” That must have been the most frustrated I have ever been with Adebayor. When the ball came to him he looked lost or maybe scared. His touch was poor, his passing was poor, and he seemed to always be facing the wrong goal. Make a run for god’s sake. And I don’t think he won a single ball in the air, wait, no he did; at the end of the match when Gallas was streaking in behind the defense and Cesc lobbed him the ball and Gallas had what looked to be the tying goal all wrapped up… Adebayor won that header and looped it softly to the keeper.

John Terry beat Adebayor in the air.

Really?

Really.

And if van Persie getting “healthy” is like a January signing then I think we should demand our transfer fee back. He needs a run of about 10 games to knock the rust off. Too bad there’s not 10 games to get him in shape.

On the other wing (van Persie was playing in Eduardo’s slot on the left wing) was Football’s equivalent to George W. Bush; an affable guy with no discernible talent, shit for brains and a penchant for getting his team into trouble. Eboue is a cunt’s cunt. He could easily have been sent off a half dozen times. His early yellow was completely deserved and he compounded that early yellow with a temper tantrum direct at the ref. Given the events earlier, I assumed he would be tossed. But nope. He kept right on motoring, doing nothing with the ball once he got it and pretending to be mortally wounded at every opportunity. Like when he crashed into Toure causing the big Ivorian to actually go down hurt, he too went down with a mystery injury. If they didn’t already have Jokehole, he’d fit right in at Chelsea.

Why didn’t Theo play yesterday?  I know that technically he substituted in on the 76th minute but I don’t remember him getting the ball even once.   What happened, tactically, that prevented him from getting the ball?

But all this is to say that yesterday teams were handed a blueprint on how to beat Arsenal: organized defense, forget the midfield, lob the ball to strikers, and wait for the inevitable defensive collapse. This is going to be a true test of Wenger’s tactical, team building, and training genius.  Make no mistake, Wenger is a genius: that goal by Sagna was a prime example of that.  Wenger caught Chelsea out by playing in a man who normally defends the counter attacks on corners.  It was great stuff to see The Beaded One get on goal.  But with the loss and the exposure of Arsenal’s weaknesses, the pessimist might say “yes, and that means the season is over, time to start buying some players!” The optimist might say “yes, and now Wenger can get to work shoring up the defense!” And the realist might say “the only way they are winning the Premier league now would be if their opponents slip up, so let’s see what Wenger has them do in the Champions League — it is a different type of tournament after all.”

And with that I bid you a really good day.