Any day you beat Chelsea FC is a good day

It was a frantic opening ten minutes of football. Chelsea looked like a team – not actually a team, more a mob of loosely connected people – desperate to get anything going. They harassed and pressed Arsenal but without anything even remotely resembling organization. Instead, they sort of relied on one-v-one pressing and hoping that Arsenal would make mistakes. And early on, Arsenal obliged.

Whether it was weird energy from dropping nine points in the last 4 matches (and blowing the title) or just unfamiliarity because half the team had been dropped, whatever the cause, Arsenal did their damndest to gift Chelsea possession early on. Fortunately for Arsenal, Chelsea played like 11 men cobbled together from a weekend pickup match, all wearing different uniforms, rather than a team. Raheem Sterling in particular had an atrocious first half. Whenever he did get the ball, he just wanted to sprint at a defender and inevitably was either dispossessed or simply turned the ball over by passing it to no one. Incredible to think that he was part of multiple title-winning Man City teams and was once considered one of England’s best forwards. Even the seemingly ageless N’golo Kante stank the entire joint up, looking more and more like a player who perhaps should have retired after his last surgery.

And then, of course, there was Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Former Arsenal captain and star player at Barcelona last season, it looks like he’s just done playing football. He had nine touches in the first half, 4 of them were from kickoffs. Two of them were turnovers. It was one of the worst performances I’ve seen from a center forward this season.

And ultimately, a lot of Chelsea’s problems are simply down to Frank Lampard. Lampard has lost 18 of his last 20 Premier League matches. He’s the one who thought it a smart idea to pick Auba and had to hook him at half time. He should have hooked himself. His teams have always looked disorganized but this is a new level. In Full Metal Jacket Drill Sergeant Hartman is giving a speech where he calls the troops “unorganized grabastic pieces of amphibian shit.” Frank Lampard’s Chelsea are that. They are so bad that I almost started to feel sorry for them and to illustrate how absurd that is, I literally laughed out loud just now at the idea that I would ever feel sorry for them, their fans, their players, or anything to do with them.

Lampard bombed out of Everton, this year. Everton are going to be relegated largely because he was such a terrible coach for them this season. Appointing him head coach of Chelsea – I wouldn’t let him coach a primary school – on the eve of a huge Champions League match was actually funny. But what was funnier were the pundits who thought he “might do a good job” or “could save his reputation” by taking the Chelsea job. Sure, he could have done those things and I could get married to Salma Hayek. Of course there’s the small issue of her current marriage to a French billionaire and the fact that I’m a sports nerd who is still writing a blog in the year of our lord 2023 but hey, the odds of me marrying Salma and Frank Lampard becoming “a good coach akshually” are about the same.

Sorry that this has turned into quite a hate-fest for Chelsea but you will be inclined to forgive me once you realize that I hate them with the fire of a thousand suns. They were the team that came right after the Invincibles and helped ruin my enjoyment of the game. Any time there was something awful (Cesc going there, Mourinho (TWICE), that Brazilian striker who played for Spain and who got Arsenal players sent off for raking their faces, Wenger’s 1000th game, the League cup final where Taylor sent off two Arsenal players one of which was incorrectly identified as Adebayor, any time that Drogba scored on us, their racist fans, Essien destroying Diaby’s ankles, etc.) in the game of football it seemed like Chelsea were at the heart of it.

So, I took great pleasure in the first half by Arsenal. After a few cold minutes, Arteta’s team warmed up and started to look lively. We started to see spaces left open by their disorganized defense and it was Odegaard who pounced first and second, essentially making the same move twice. They were good finishes too, not as easy as they looked, the ball was fizzed in there for the first and the second was bobbling a bit. But Øde put them away like a £100m midfielder.

Jesus added the third after a goal-mouth scramble left four Chelsea players on the deck. I can’t explain how much that made me laugh other than to say that my entire upper body was shaking.

In the second half, I really wanted Arsenal to step on Chelsea FC. You know get six or seven goals. But Arteta did the thing he’s now famous for and instead opted to control the game. Arsenal started off slow, very slow, taking almost a minute on our first throw in. But unlike some other matches, I don’t think we had toothless control. We did force two fine saves from Kepa, which is something I didn’t think he could do.

There was one moment which made me a bit angry, which was when Madueke just waltzed past Zinchenko and scored (a bit of a lucky goal). Zinchenko is a pretty good ball-playing midfielder (though he was terrible at the start of this game and was exposed badly against Man City and Liverpool) but his defending isn’t just “suspect”, it’s downright criminal at times. He just switches off and that just can’t be acceptable if we want to win the League. If Arteta dropped Holding and Partey for their transgressions (which it seems like he did, Partey against City was the worst I’ve seen an Arsenal DM play since the time that Rooney ran past Denilson) then he really also needs to drop Zinchenko until he decides he wants to play with his head on straight. I’m not “scapegoating” and I certainly don’t hate Zinchenko but his form these last few weeks has been very poor, especially defensively. He’s been at the heart of way too many mistakes for me and needs a break to recover his mental form. I don’t see it happening, though, because we have two huge games against Newcastle and Brighton on each of the next two Sundays. So, maybe it’s a case of having a word with him instead.

Despite the blot on the copy book, overall a good win for the Arsenal. Let’s hope it helps to clear some of the foul clouds that have gathered over the last month.



  1. It was good to see the reaction from the team. They did look more energized and organized. And the changes were helpful, though I don’t think either Martinelli or Holding had previously played poorly enough to be dropped. Saka actually looks like he needs a rest more than Martinelli.
    Good to see Kiwior doing well, though Chelsea were SO BAD in the first half it’s not really a great barometer. But you can only beat what’s in front of you. At this point, I can’t even see a Championship team thinking Lampard would be a good coaching option.
    And completely agree on Zinch. Didn’t feel to me like he added a lot in attack, had some poor giveaways, and completely switched off for their goal. Tierney should start against Newcastle, who will be much more dangerous in attack. If you have to play Zinch, the logical place would be for him to replace Xhaka, but Xhaka, aside from the City match, has been better than Zinch lately.

  2. I hate Chelsea probably just as much as you do, Tim. Despise them for all the same reasons, and take great pleasure in beating them whenever we can. Yesterday was just downright pathetic from them though. It’s like they didn’t even try. Shockingly bad performance, and sure, you can blame Lampard for some of it but I think players should take some responsibility as well. Auba, Sterling, Kante are just to name a few who were literally passengers. The whole team looked uninterested and disjointed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Chelsea side playing this bad. In fact, this is probably the worst performance from any team/league that I’ve seen this season… and I watch a lot footy.

  3. “They are so bad that I almost started to feel sorry for them” I did a spit take on that. outstanding Tim.

    1. also, my closest friend was born a City fan… and he warned me when we bought OZ that he was good for one or two fatal errors and switching offs each match. So far that is a spot on assessment. Great on the ball, but potentially fatal on defense. Needs to sharpen up!

  4. I’ve been thinking about the Zinchenko conundrum lately, especially in light of his recent form in our leaking defence. If he’s fit he plays and maybe he stays on longer than game-state warrants because his role is so pivotal to Arteta’s system.

    It’s what makes dropping him so problematic, in most other positions we have a rough analog on the bench. Tierney is a fine fullback in the old school British defender mold but as with Holding, Arteta demands something more than a guy whose first instinct is to hoof the ball as far away as possible.

    After the highs of this season it can be hard to really criticise or even remember that we used to run a very serviceable system with Tierney in the team. Next year maybe we’ll see greater flexibility and adaptability in how we play and more diversity in players who are able to come in and contribute.

    But knowing Arteta I wouldn’t be surprised to see him lean even harder into his philosophy and hey, to be fair it’s largely worked. Zinchenko, Jesus and Saliba brought us up a level, maybe a Rice or a Caicedo mitigates some of those defensive shortcomings and we finally morph into something like our final form.

  5. I so agree that beating Chelsea is always a good day, but this wasn’t really Chelsea was it? It was a really, really bad imitation of – never mind Premier League level – a relegation-bound team at the bottom of the Championship.

    I mean, WTF?

    Since the three consecutive draws, I have zero-interest in these final games. They’re all dead rubbers as we have nothing to play for. We will be firmly in 2nd place behind City who, as championship teams do, are wiping the floor with the competition even at season’s end, with West Ham the latest to be put to the sword today.

    I would have absolutely taken it at this time last year of course. But after being top for most of this season, only to throw it away at the end, makes it bittersweet.

    1. You can bet Chelsea fans weren’t underwhelmed by beating us all those times just because we weren’t that good any more. For whatever state they’re in, they still put out a team that cost far more than ours and we walked them. Got to take the win.

      Also, if Madrid beat City, there’s a chance they lose focus. Not impossible – Pep famously overthinks those fixtures, and Madrid are still Madrid (ref. Bellingham, Jude). Got to keep doing our thing (and start on some summer things).

    2. It’s interesting, and I understand your loss in motivation. I think with United losing today, we now can’t finish below them (short of them winning out and us losing all of ours and a 30 goal swing in GD). So 3rd is guaranteed, and I’d have bit your hand off it offered that before the season.
      But it does seem like a bit of a let off the rest of the way. That said, I’ll certainly be paying attention to the Newcastle match. We owe them something for the end of last season, and much more than the Chelsea match, is a chance for us to make a statement that top 2 is where we belong.

  6. Hey, if you don’t know his music, go checkout some Gordon Lightfoot:

    Sundown, If You Could Read My Mind, Carefree Highway, Early Morning Rain and of course, one of the most unusual Top 40 hits of all time, Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, which tells the story in exacting and accurate detail, of a pellet ore tanker that sank in a storm on Lake Superior.

    Gordon was a consummate craftsman. Bob Dylan said “Gordon died without ever having written a bad song”.

    I was very fortunate to have crossed paths with Gordon a few times over the years professionally and personally.

    A icon of not just Canadian music, but to singer songwriters all over the world.


    1. Oh, I’m sorry for your loss. If it’s any consolation, your tribute to him is helping to spread his legacy to others and keeps his memory alive. I’m, for example, listening to him right now.

      1. Thanks, but I don’t want to give the impression that we were friends. Friendly for sure but more acquaintances, I would say.

        I was fortunate enough to play for him as a hired gun in the studio.

        I offered to send in my part(s), but he was old school: insisting all the session players be in the same place at the same, so he flew some of in. I remember the catering was really good too!

        He knew what he wanted musically, he was never in doubt, but unlike too many others, he was patient and kind always and always listened to suggestions.

        A class act.

    2. RIP to a legend. First I’ve heard of it, and I consume a lot of news. Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald is incredible storytelling.

    3. didn’t know he’d passed away. btw, i absolutely love your contribution to this community, 1nil. there’s no one like you here.

  7. Pray that Chelsea get relegated. It’s a possibility.

    Forest at home – loss?
    City away – loss
    United away – loss
    Newcastle at home – loss.

    Four losses sees them hold at 39pts. There’s a slight chance that Everton, Leeds, Forest, Leicester all get 40+pts.

    That would be stupendous. Just the single best story of the year if you spend 600m and get relegated.

    1. I could actually see Chelsea losing all those matches. It’s the other side of the equation that seems less likely, unfortunately can’t see all the other results going the way that would make that possible.
      But I agree, it would be stupendously funny and a huge joke on Boehly and the owners.

  8. Well Farooq,

    Thanks for re-igniting my interest in the remainder of the season.

    It’s an intriguing and attractive (technical) possibility that Chel$ki could actually be relegated.

    Wigan beat Man City for the F.A. Cup after we relegated them! (Did I get that right? I didn’t check.)

    Let’s hope…

    1. i think arsenal beat wigan in the fa cup final in the same season they got relegated. in fact, i think arsenal played two fa cup finals in a row against teams that had gotten to the final but had also been relegated from the premier league in the same campaign…but i haven’t checked either.

  9. as the kids would say, “chelsea were so ass, bro.” it was so dumb for them to sack thomas tuchel. after all, it was his team. what did he do that required he be fired? the funny thing about it all, if you take away the points tuchel earned before getting sacked, chelsea would be in the relegation zone? as for graham potter, it’s clear that brighton’s recruiting is the reason for their success, not his management; those guys are unearthing absolute gems at brighton. however, assigning lampard was the dumbest of the 3 decisions. i used to think all chelsea needed was a proper center forward…you know, to replace chelsea legend, olivier giroud. after seeing chelsea play against arsenal, you have to wonder which way they go from here.

    as for zinchenko, sorry to say but it looks like i was right. in december/january, i said if arsenal fail to win the league, his ineptness as a defender would be a feature in that collapse; not merely a footnote, but a feature. everyone was going on about how good he looked on the ball. sorry boys, but i’ve said it for years, the first thing you have to do well as a defender is defend…and everything else is gravy. the errors he’s made, to use tim’s jargon, have been criminal. i would lambast my 17-year old girls for defending that way.

    earlier in the season, when zinchenko was injured, arsenal played a stretch of eleven league games, registering 10 wins and a draw. during that stretch, the only game arsenal conceded more than one goal was the 3-2 win against liverpool. that’s championship-level defending. arsenal did not miss zinchenko. the goal against chelsea simply highlighted what he’s been doing all season, with many times, his team mates bailing him out to prevent other goals. zinchenko has always given me thomas vermalen-vibes. at this point, i would rather have xhaka play left back than zinchenko. xhaka as an emergency left back, never conceded awful goals like zinchenko has.

  10. would you guys rather see declan rice or jude bellingham come in this summer? i think they’d be about the same money.

    1. …or moises caicedo? after watching him own marcus rashford yesterday as an emergency rb, i think he could do the zinchenko role.

    2. Surely, you don’t think they would be the same on wages? And Bellingham is a much better player. He will be the best midfielder in the world in 3 or 4 years.

    3. Cherki for the Xhaka role, then have money left over to buy Caicedo for the DM.

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