Arsenal 1-2 Cheslea; The Good, Bad, and Ugly

Match Reports

ESPNSoccernet: Poland international Lukasz Fabianski had a birthday to forget as his error gifted Chelsea a 2-1 victory in their FA Cup semi-final defeat of Arsenal at Wembley.

Sunday Express: DROGBA’S LATE GEM RUINS BRAVE ARSENAL’S CHALLENGE

Arseblog: There’s only one way to deal with a result like that and it’s to drink heavily. Well, there’s another way which involves a rampaging orgy of violence against anything in blue but experience has taught me that drinking is the best option.

Match Video

The Arsenalist:  still kicking out fresh jams.

Introduction

Arsenal is a club that relies on R&D for their success: Research and Development.  Chelsea is a club that relies on R&C: Resources and Checkbook. — FA Cup semi-final match commentator for Setanta.

I am disappointed. Most of the team gave 100% yesterday and truly did not deserve to crash out of the cup in that manner: beaten again by Didier Drogba, who, to be fair, is a huge diving cunt.

Moreover, it was so similar to the Carling Cup final two years ago that it’s not even funny: there’s the early goal by Theo, followed by the Chelsea boot boys getting away with things like shoving Arsenal players over, which raised tensions and nearly got Denilson sent off. All wrapped in a cellophane package of a club who have to buy cups the same way they buy and hand out flags for their “supporters” to wave around during the match. Once again it was a case of Chelsea’s superior checkbook making the difference and that’s hard to take.

Even still, I can’t really say that I’m surprised by the outcome, just like the Carling Cup final. No club can go into any match missing 4 of their starting back 5, and even missing several of their backup players and really expect to compete. So, it’s a testament to those players that they have competed over these last few weeks and no shame that Silvestre was beaten by a world class player like Drogba.

With that said, let’s get on with the show.

The Good

Kieran Gibbs was just brilliant. Whether it was going forward to garner the assist or his tireless defending at the back, Gibbs gave everything yesterday and proved himself to be a star for the future. His overlapping runs were a danger to Chelsea all day and they literally had no answer for him. I have to think that if he’d had a more active forward up front in Adebayor he would have been more effective going forward. As it was, he only notched one assist — then again, we only scored one goal!

At the back, for the second time in as many games, Fabianski made a huge error in going out of his box and Gibbs was called upon to perform the rescue. Make no mistake, this clearance was more than just youthful legs getting back, he also needed a pretty well honed defensive awareness to even be in position to make that save. And he’s done it twice now.

It makes Gibbs a bit of an enigma: is he more of an attacking player or more a defender? His current England captain solves that problem by playing him as the box-to-box midfielder. It’s tough to pigeonhole someone who is that talented but I can’t wait to see where Wenger plays him next year.

The Bad

Adebayor was a disgrace. Arsene’s late sub of Bendtner for Ade is all the proof Arsenal supporters need to see that Wenger was fed up with the performance he put in. Why else would you take off your most talented striker and put someone in who is not nearly as talented but is one of the  hardest workers on the team? Basically, Wenger crippled the team offensively when he brought Bendtner on, because he was that pissed at Adebayor. And the way Adebayor walked off the pitch and sat pouting in the stands spoke volumes about what he thought of being subbed.

In fact, Adebayor’s whole game was a huge mystery. Whereas in the last match he was offside at least 6 times, I don’t think he had a single offside yesterday. I have to wonder if Wenger didn’t dress him down after his chronic offsidedness and his reaction was a sort of petulant, lazy, temper tantrum. I’m obviously just speculating about that and Wenger will probably never say what happened, but it was a very strange game from Ade, a strange sub by Arsene, and a hideous reaction by the Togonator. We may yet need his skill before the end of the year so let’s hope Wenger patches this up enough to keep Ade interested until the end of the year.

I’m not going to rip Fabianski. He’s only 24 years old and his mistakes were the stuff that young keepers do. I like his aggressiveness in the area and hopefully he can learn to trust his defense a little bit more and not to come too far out of the box too soon. You know, keep his hands in the game so to say.

And finally, as for individual play, I thought Eboue had a nightmare. He looked kind of fat and slow and didn’t show any defensive awareness.

Maybe he wasn’t match fit? I saw him not tracking back on one play and pull up rubbing his back. Maybe he just never plays with the defensive practice team? I don’t know how else to explain his rather poor defense of what should have been an easy ball to deal with but that rather found Malouda who nutmegged Eboue and beat Fabianski to the near post. Folks are blaming Fab for that goal but I think he left the near post open because he saw Eboue had it covered. Eboue was 80% at fault for the first goal and whether it was because he wasn’t fit or because he was properly prepared, I don’t know.

That said, the big mystery of the day was the team selection. The back four selected themselves of course, but the rest of the team selection was just fucking bizarre. I like Denilson, he’s one of my favorite players, but he’s more in the mold of Cesc than of Gilberto. I like Diaby, he’s got so much potential, but he’s more like a Felliani than a Vieira. So, Wenger picked a super offensive side in Diaby and Denilson and Cesc in the middle, and three strikers up front (Theo is a striker). Of course, Wenger doesn’t see it this way and he explains the team selection thus:

Alex Song has played many games and I believe when you do that you need rest. I am not sure he would have stopped the ball in the air on the second goal, but it is difficult. We know they are dangerous on set-pieces and we are a bit short. Plus they have some tall boys who make it physical in midfield and we needed a player like Diaby to be capable of fighting against them.

As well I wanted to rotate it a bit because Nasri was sick last week and he looked a bit tired. We played with three strikers – Theo, Robin and Adebayor – and I couldn’t play with four when they had three in midfield.

The logic is sound but the application is completely wrong. Why not Diaby and Song at the back? Because you are resting Song??? For what? Tuesday’s game against Liverpool? Very strange.

And then, of course the huge question as to why Arshavin was not in the game to start or, at the least, subbed earlier. Denilson was having a poor game and Cesc was ineffective in the hole, so even if you don’t start Arshavin in the hole, at the least I would have brought him on for Denilson at the 60th minute, moved Cesc back and see if the Russian’s class could have sparked some life into Adebayor and company up front. I think Arshavin had pretty much Arsenal’s only shots in the second half, in his brief stint. That’s how much he could have changed the game, given a chance.

In the end, it’s easy to sit here and second guess the manager. The reality is that Arsenal were winning and ended up conceding two goals. Maybe our first choice keeper would have stopped those, maybe not. Maybe Sagna would have headed that over the top ball to Malouda out, maybe not.  Maybe Gallas would have been stronger in the challenge and had better wheels to catch Drogba on the second goal, maybe not.

It doesn’t really matter what I think might have happened, because in the end, Arsenal were simply outplayed.

The Ugly

If Wembley is the crown jewel of English football, then that jewel has a serious flaw in it; the disgraceful pitch. I honestly don’t know what they are going to do for today’s match. That pitch needs to be torn up, replaced, and allowed to settle in for about two years before another match is played on it.

I’d rather have a plastic pitch with gridiron football lines on it than one where the ball bumbles along like it did yesterday.

Conclusion

The game is over, Chelsea won and though we’re out of this cup, we’re not done for the season. Arsenal have Liverpool at Anfield on Tuesday and we need to regroup and focus our attention on keeping 4th place in the league. Then, in two week’s time we have a Champions League match against the Devils which is a series that Arsenal most certainly can win: especially a 100% fit Arsenal.

And yes, while it’s hard to go out to a bunch of classless cunts who celebrate a semi-final win by spraying each other with Champagne, as if they’d just won the cup, Arsenal have targets still to achieve and possibly even exact some revenge against Chelsea in the Champions League.

I honestly believe that this team has the talent and heart to win the Champions League. And if they can just get 100% healthy, they will be very dangerous.  I can’t wait to see it, but let’s start with a famous win at Anfield on Tuesday!

15 Comments on Arsenal 1-2 Cheslea; The Good, Bad, and Ugly

  1. Words can’t express the disappointment I’m feeling right now. Another april and yet another cup exit. I simply do not understand why Arsene didn’t play Arshavin. I can overlook everything that he might’ve done better yesterday but not having Arshavin in the starting line up left me speechless. I actually commented to my friend when I saw the starting line up that we are f***ed. In the end it came down to defensive errors. Eboue, Silvestre and Fabianski can all share the blame for the two goals. What also rips me apart inside is the manner in which we lost the game. We offered very little going forward and our midfield was made to look inferior. I am not a fan of Diaby. I lot of people like him but I think a lot of that is down to the Viera-effect i.e. he reminds people of Viera. However he is a player in a pass heavy team who can not pass. Yes he does have the occasional good game but for the most part, he is yet to convince me. As for Ade, we all know he has a world of talent but talent alone does not make a good player. He works hard for us when he wants to but slacks off whenever he doesn’t get what he wants. Now I don’t know what transpired between him and Arsene, if at all, but yesterday he looked like he was expecting someone to set him up with a clear shot on goal on the edge of the 6 yard box. This after all this big talk from him about how we should be winning trophies. Someone needs to tell him that to win trophies you need to work hard day in day out – not just when you when you feel like it.

    Anyways – I just needed to vent a little. Truth is its unfair to point out individual players from yesterday’s game because we failed collectively as a team. Everyone from the manager to the players could’ve done a better job. I hope we get Sagna and Almunia back soon. We must beat the mancs in the Champions League. I dont even care if we win the CL or not – but I just want us to be able to put in our top game, beat the mancs and restore some pride after yesterday’s defeat.

  2. Well Tim I’m going to have to disagree with almost everything you’ve said because you sound like Wenger – preferring to make up excuses rather than face the truth. Blaming the pitch is a poor start. the pitch is the pitch and it’s what they have to play on. Like it or not makes no difference because it won’t change the fact that it’s the surface you have to use. Are we going to blame the same thing if we lose to some bottom table team from some backwater area who cannot afford to spend millions on their field? It is what it is and if we cannot adapt then we’re just masking our own failures and attributing it to something else which has no real bearing on the performance. Secondly whining about Chelsea’s cheque book isn’t going to magically make them change their team. The mark of champions is to overcome opposition no matter what circumstances was used to assemble them. In truth we matched them for the first 20 minutes and then were outplayed for the remaining 70. Wenger employed poor tactics by playing an unorthodox formation which pretty much ruined our fluidity. We’ve been having success with a 4-4-2 with Arshavin on the left, RVP beside Ade and Song marshalling midfield to allow Cesc to roam so why break up the formula now? If it ain’t broke why fix it? I think you’re blaming Ade for no good reason. The repressive formation and team selection gave him little to no opportunities to play and he lacked the support generally given to him from a 4-4-2 formation so what was he to do? The anger is somewhat displaced here and I think the boys did the best they could with the utter mediocrity Wenger gave them to work with. I’m not going to call for Wenger’s resignation because really he’s done so much for the club but on the day he lost it and really I’d be content if he just fessed up and admitted that rather than feeding us lines about the pitch or inexperience.

  3. The only reason I can see as to why Arshavin did not start, is that Hiddink was the opposing coach. Maybe he thought they would have shut Arshavin down, as Hiddink obviously knows his style quite well.

  4. We didn’t offer enough in midfield, defense or upfront,and their quality proved itself in the end. They slowly asserted themselves on the match and we had no response. Same old story really, when the opponents jump into our shorts and deny space we suffer as we cannot seem to weather pressure and retain possession. Drogba, if given the chance will almost always run over people, chels knew what it was doing tactically, credit to them they’re playing well under guus. I will not blame injuries, that’s why you have a proper squad, players will always be getting crocked. I think we got a lucky goal as the run of play was not with us, they were better and played cautious at times but were more intelligent and made far fewer mistakes.

  5. I watched the game with over 100 Arsenal supporters at our local pub, consoled myself with the Arsenal groupies for hours, commiserated with my son over dinner and ingested a liberal amount of alcohol before even making a response to what I think is an inexcusable act of utter idiocy by Arsene.

    1) There is no excuse or rationality for Arshavin and Song not starting the game.

    2) There is no excuse or rationality for his odious substitutions, which not only came way too late but had us end up with Bendtner as the sole striker on the pitch.

    3) While we can debate his initial use of a 4-2-3-1, with Van Persie on the wing and Fab in the hole, there is no debate over whether we should have gone to a 4-4-2 or 4-4-3 early in the 2nd half when Chel$ki started to wear us down and we were ineffective offensively.

    At that point, were we playing to go into a penalty shootout rather than using our most potent weapon, offense? With a patched up defensive it was only a matter of time before we made an error and allowed Chel$ki to win, which they did.

    Arsene’s lack of tactical nous displayed in this game meant he either totally panicked and simply out thought himself, wanted to lose, didn’t care about the outcome, have no tactical nous, or any combination of the above. None of the answers portray him in a good light.

    Coming into the game, I was less than confident of our ability to beat Chel$ki with our weakened team. It was going to be a tough game for sure. However, not to field the team which gave us the best chance of winning is a cardinal sin in my eyes and just can’t see any redemption for Wenger in this situation.

    JUST ME!!!

  6. Very pissed off.

    This game gave a perfect example of how Adebayor played before his injury; no work rate, no desire, nothing. He has to learn that if you want to win medals you have to put in 100% every game. Very few players can rely on pure skill to coast through a game and still be decisive and he is not one of them.

    Van Persie was lost on the left and really should have been moved into a more central position or subbed earlier.

    Eboue was not as bad as you say, but we all know how much you hate the guy.

    We didn´t deserve to win the game but I think it would have been a different story if the whole team showed the same hunger as players like Gibbs and Walcott.

    If we sell anyone this Summer I hope it´s Adebayor for 35 million and we buy someone who is professional and not just playing to boost his ego.

  7. @old codger – I have to disagree on your Eboue comment, I will admit I am not his biggest fan, but especially towards the end of the game was always arriving late, and had Toure covering for him. With the way we play, I don’t think Eboue has the fitness right now to defend and surge forward the way we do.

  8. I respect that everyone disagrees with me.

    Thanks for keeping it cordial.

    For those who said I didn’t question Wenger not playing Song, I beg you to read it again, same with Arshavin. And I think I made a pretty reasoned argument why Bendtner came on for Adebayor, who I dressed down completely.

    That said, the pitch was a disgrace and I feel like the FA gave an advantage to Chelsea by putting out a disgraceful pitch. I’m going to call that as I see it, it’s not moaning, I gave the game to Chelsea fair and square. When I say Drogba was better than Silvestre, and then if I complain about the pitch I’m hardly moaning. I’m stating facts.

    And finally, as to the Chelsea checkbook thing, I’m hardly alone in that criticism. Let me put it this way, if we had won you all would be mentioning their salaries to rub in that we won the game and won it “morally.” So, I feel no compunction tearing into them for their insane transfer and salary policy. It warps the playing field.

    And we saw more than one warped field yesterday.

    I’m super happy that Everton beat Man U for several reasons:

    1. I like Everton.
    2. I hate Man U.
    3. I now have a team to root for in the finals and a reason to watch the game.

  9. Oh, and Eboue was crap. This has nothing to do with my long-standing dislike of the player. But when I see him not tracking back on defense and then pull up holding his lower back, my response is that he had better be out for 4 weeks with a back injury. Eboue’s one saving grace is that he tries and yesterday he didn’t look like he gave two fucks: lazy defense, feigning injury, and unimaginative in the attack.

    It was vintage Eboue.

    It was vintage Ade.

    The vintage where the crops all went sour and they bottled it anyway.

  10. Beyond disappointing. I was laid off on Friday and I thought the silver lining would be a famous victory at Wembley. Didn’t happen, and I think I am still hungover.

    The only real highlight was the turnout at the pub, it was easily, EASILY, 3-1 in favor of Arsenal. I brought a friend that is not a football fan in the least, and I think I might have converted him.

    Now, let’s pip Chelsea for third place in the league.

    Everton for the Cup!

  11. In retrospect, perhaps Darkhail sums it up best. Towards the end of the game Eboue got worse as he ran out of steam. He was not crap for the whole game.

    Since his red card against spurs the guy has actually improved his attitude and scored a few goals. That said, I would not be against us selling him and buying an english replacement.

    This club could do with a few more english players. I could see Fabregas, Van Persie and Adebayor all being tempted with a move at some stage.

  12. There are a lot of things that we need to address in this game but to sum it all up the Arsenal that we know failed to show up. We were unable to control the game and the spine was soft. I am petrified every game wondering which Adebayor will show up. There was really no excuse for the sub par performance that he showed. But I won’t put the blame on one person because we lose as a team and win as one. After the game I just refused to read any football news. I drank after the game and made sure that I was able to burst enough brain cells to forget the loss. Like Arsenal I failed.

    @ Matt
    good luck my fellow gooner in finding a new job.

  13. you no what im a chelsea fan and there was 11 of us and we got in to a fight with around 40 arsenal fans just nere to wembely in a carpark where we had left our mini busses all i say is you beeter whatch you selves you dirty little gunners that was bang out of order !!!!!!!!

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