That’s the best way to put it. This was a freak freak result. The game itself was freak. It was a comedy of errors. It’s painful to lose but it’s terrible to lose at home to a team of Arsenal’s limited quality. This result has put us nine points behind Man City. Even worse, we are equal terms with Newcastle and Liverpool.
Such freak results do happen. That’s what makes football unpredictable and that’s why we are mad about football. Last week when Utd lost 1-6 to Man City at Old Trafford, he did mention that Utd had once lost 0-5 to Newcastle but went on to win the league. Freak results do happen but they don’t make the season. But, fair play to Arsenal. They got a big result here. They made their mistakes but also took their chances. Didn’t need a dodgy referee to get a good result. Let them enjoy the moment while it lasts.
Chelsea Goals: In a 3-5 defeat at home, there’s not going to be too much to write in this section. I enjoyed each of our goals. Particularly the one from Juan Mata. What a lovely strike. Also quite happy that Lampard’s rich form continues with another well taken goal. John Terry always manages to score when he’s under pressure.
Attitude of the team: It’s a bit strange that I’m talking about here, isn’t it? I’m not the one to confuse performance with attitude. Truly, I thought Chelsea played with the right attitude throughout the match. We were consistent and very positive in our belief throughout the match though it did not produce results in this match.
Andre Villas Boas: In my opinion, he got the starting eleven spot on. Yes there was a debate around whether Meireles should have started instead of Mikel. Against Arsenal, I’d surely pick Mikel to close space and slow them down. If we were to have a defensive midfielder, Mikel suits better than a versatile (also means not a specialist def mid) Meireles. Also, I thought he got his substitutions spot on.
I thought he had set up Chelsea very well which was evident with how we started the game and how we should have killed the game in the first half. In the second half, he had to start throwing players in attack, the downside of which is always the counterattack goals for the opposition. This game could have gone either way. It wasn’t to be our day. We were unfortunate to lose this game.
Much has been talked about Chelsea’s defending of late. As AVB says, as a team, we are moving from directional approach to decision making approach. Our players always were looking for the manager to advise, guide and direct them to know to how to react in certain situations. This is common in 95% of the teams in football. What AVB wants to do is to let the players make their own decisions in those circumstances so we can realise the fullest potential of the players and subsequently that of the team. As you can see, it’s not a simple transition of mind set and understanding. For instance, when Ivanovic has the ball, John Terry, unlike before, may not quite know what to expect from Ivanovic. But what binds them is the overall key objectives for the game or the half or the situation. It’s natural that the transition into this new approach will have its biggest impact on defence rather than attack. This is certainly a new approach. Barca is known to play with a perfected version of this model.
You might doubt the merits of this system with the current set of players at Chelsea. But AVB is talking about a club ideology which shouldn’t be designed with the players that we have. And in fact, the players we assemble will have to be in line with the ideology that we have. Anyway, all I’m saying is, I’m firmly behind Andre Villas Boas.
Not killing the game: Half hour into the game, we must have been leading by 3 goals. Knowing Arsenal are shite at defending, we should have made their life miserable inside the box. It’s not our finishing. I think it was our final ball that lacked venom. Linking back to the earlier topic, some of our decision making was a bit poor. Arsenal got out of the jail because we didn’t force the game. They had poor a defence – centre backs and full backs – but still we didn’t make the best out of their incompetence. If we had got our act together, we could have beaten them like how City beat Utd. We were so dominant in the first half in all respects and didn’t convert that into goals.
First Arsenal goal: The longer we had not conceded the easier the game would have become. We were so superior in the first 20 minutes or so that Arsenal might have wondered where will their goal come from. When we conceded that tremendously increased their confidence. For this goal, I thought Ivanovic was at fault as he was ball-watching and failed to track his man. While we are defending in a not-so-compact way, our concentration had to be at higher levels. With this goal, Arsenal knew that there was a chink in Chelsea’s armour that can be exploited. They stopped coming through the wings and were looking to split through the centre backs.
Pressing and defending high: Well, this is part of AVB’s big plan for creating a distinctive playing style for Chelsea. Our attacks have become so unpredictable and lovely to watch because of the defence that plays high up. They get involved and create new angles and possibilities in attacks. The downside of this is getting caught by speedy opposition. Even when Arsenal had the ball in our half, you could see that the defensive line was much outside the box allowing possible one-on-one opporuntities for the opposition. Knowing that Arsenal has tremendous pace/dribble in Walcott and Gervinho and a deadly finisher in van Persie, I wouldn’t have played such a high line defence. May be, AVB underestimated Arsenal here and paid the price.
strong>Not enough tackles: It was very strange to see Arsenal committing more than three times the fouls that Chelsea did. We went a bit soft on them. We should have tackled hard and tackled more often. Probably, the two red cards against QPR is still playing in the minds. But I thought we made it too easy for them by not tackling hard like Chelsea always does.
Petr Cech’s close range keeping: Is it just me or it’s not too difficult to beat big Pete these days? From distance, he’s as solid as a rock. He’s got great positioning and coverage that only the best of shots can probably beat him. From closer range, I get this feeling (not backed by facts or stats) that he’s been letting in too many goals that he could have done something about. Where he needs to show his reflex or be a bit maverick in his approach, he still sticks to textbook goalkeeping. Don’t get me wrong. He’s the best goal keeper for me and I’d never swap him for anyone but by his own high standards he’s off colour these days. Must have been a sad day for him to let 5 goals past him at Stamford Bridge. Sure, he will come back with a bang.
CHELSEA MAN OF THE MATCH:
Juan Mata. Created a goal with a lovely cross and scored a screamer for the equaliser. The cross that he made for the first goal was basically to be recorded and replayed for our full backs 100 times ahead of every match so they know what’s this thing called ‘a dangerous cross’. The goal that he scored was just brilliant. It’s a goal that deserves to win a match. Sadly turned out to be a great goal in a lost cause. With some luck, he could even have won the match for us. Lampard ran close with his ‘lost and found’ midfield play. He was superb and that lob for Sturridge was out of the world. If he was some Spanish first team player, media would have gone berserk. I still wonder how did he see that pass? Did he have a pair eyes on his back too? Great shift by Lamps but still Mata is my man of the match.
9 points behind table leaders after 10 games is not good news. Is this unsurmountable? Hell no! Couple of seasons back Arsenal themselves had a 12-point lead only to end up third or fourth in the table. Man City are on top and this is a new territory for them. At this stage, to say Man City will win the league is like saying Chelsea will win the match 3-0 after the first 20 minutes of yesterday’s game. There’s lot more to see – fixture congestion, injuries etc.
See, Arsenal beat Chelsea. Man Utd beat Arsenal. Man City beat Man Utd. So will Chelsea beat Man City to complete a full circle? Unlike the last few season, the mini-league among the top six could be a deciding factor in which way the title race goes.
As regards this game folks, like I tweeted, ‘shit happens, life moves on’. And, there will be pay back at the Emigrants Stadium! Stay strong!