Sunday, February 7, 2010

Chelsea-Arsenal

More or less as predicted (here), it's Drogba 2 - Arsenal 0 at half-time. The second goal was very similar to Man U's second goal against the Gunners last weekend. In that case, Denilson failed to track Rooney's late run into the box. Today, it was Clichy's turn to watch the ball, as Drogba strode down the unprotected right flank.

One surprise: with striker Nicklas Bendtner healthy again, Wenger left him on the bench. So, Arshavin is still playing upfront in the middle, which is not the optimal position for him or anyone who barely breaks 5 feet in height. Still, Arsenal had some chances in the first half, but failed to convert. Coming back to tie in the second half is probably too much to hope for.

FULL-TIME UPDATE: Chelsea 2 - Arsenal 0. Arsenal are now out of the title race. Chelsea lead them by 9 points, and Man U are 7 up on the Gunners. Bottom line: Arsenal are 0-4 against the top two teams this season in head-to-head matches. They do not deserve to be in contention, and they are not.

Wenger loves the term "naive" to describe his team when they lose. But this time, it is perhaps Wenger who is naive to believe that you can win games against top-flight competition without a strong striker or two in the line-up. The season was lost when Van Persie went down with a injury (playing in an international friendly for Holland), and Wenger stubbornly refused to sign a replacement.

Biggest disappointment of the season? Wenger throwing away a real chance to win the FA Cup by fielding a team of scrubs in order to rest starters for the spate of games against Aston Villa, Man U, Chelsea and, next, Liverpool. From the first three of those four games, Arsenal have won 0 points.

The economically trained Arsenal manager may take pleasure in the fact that Chelsea and Man U are both mired in debt, while the Arsenal corporation makes a tidy profit, but that's not much consolation for Arsenal fans who would like to win a bit of silverware once in a while.

POST-MATCH UPDATE: In his post-game interview (viewable here), Arsenal skipper Arsene Wenger lauded his team's performance, asserted that they were "sharper" than Chelsea, blamed Chelsea for time wasting, and claimed that his side are not yet out of the title race. I believe he is now, officially, delusional.

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