Great result! Rafa’s first derby win too! The importance of this win cannot be understated. Rafa’s Chelsea has to show that they can win big games and particularly at home. Wasn’t an easy task given the hard time out players and managers were given at Stamford Bridge.
The game against Arsenal was particularly important. I was confident that Spurs would drop points. Arsenal and Chelsea were the strongest contenders for the third spot. We had to win this game and seal the third spot.
It’s no way near sealed as yet. We are only four points ahead of Spurs but we still need to play them at Stamford Bridge. A good run of games from now on will seal it for us. Also remember, we could still sin a new player before the end of this winter transfer window.
Back to the game. The selection was exactly what I had chosen except that I expected Terry to feature and I wanted Ba to lead the line. It’s an open secret that Arsenal are poor in the air and can’t deal with strength and power. The man who symbolised aerial ability, power and strength should still give nightmares to Wenger only realising upon waking up that he’s in China.
I thought starting Ba for this game was a no-brainer. Ba is all that Arsenal don’t want to face. In the 10 minutes he was in, he won every single aerial battle, shrugged off their players quite easily, found himself space to run, squared the keeper for a glorious chance. He was a menace and if he had played for 70-80 minutes, I’m convinced that we’d have won lot more comfortably.
The only thing new about Torres was his haircut. Looks 24 now. In terms of his contribution on the pitch, it’s not too different what we’ve been seeing. Made some good runs on right channel, had a couple of opportunities to score but he didn’t anything for me to say ‘oh he was unfortunate’. It’s time someone had a face-to-face conversation with him on whether he really cares to play or not.
If Demba Ba can come in and become the unanimous first choice striker among the Chelsea fans, Torres has a lot to work on. I think Torres needs to have two conversations. One with the board/Roman on his future and two with a proper psychologist to rebuild his confidence, if he wants to see out his five and a half year contract. Yes, it’s a five and a half year contract of which we have seen 2 years where he’s for paid £18m in the form of wages.
The first half was a dream. Chelsea were so dominant I couldn’t believe we were playing Arsenal. We played like hey were some league one team missing their key players. We were all over them. We should have finished the half and the game thereby with a 4-0 lead at half time. Knowing Arsenal, they’d have extent that to a 6-0 or something.
Instead we finished the half with 2-0 and gave them a sniff of a result. If they get a bright start to the second half and score a goal, they’re in the game. And that’s what they exactly did. A wise football man once said, 2-0 is the most dangerous score for the leading team. At 1-0, you stay alert and you look to score and make or comfortable. At 2-0, you’re a bit unsure whether you want to attack of defend. And if the team is not in harmony in terms of what the approach should, there’s a weakness to be exploited.
Under Rafa, we’ve seen this pattern of brilliant first half and a tamed second half. This match was no different. In the first half we were all over them. At half time, I was sure that they’d come back more determined and that Walcott would give them the edge. I just tweeted that only to see it in action in a few minutes.
It might look silly to be concentrating on the negatives when we’ve earned and got a great derby win a home. But I think it’s very important as this seems to be a worrying pattern. When the going got tough in the second half, the defence held up very well but the big personalities didn’t show up. I was particularly disappointed in Mata, Ashley Cole and Lampard.
In the second half, knowing how Arsenal would and did approach the game, you needed our midfield generals to take control of the midfield and the game and calm things down. Jose Mourinho was and is a master at it. It’s all about how you control the game on and off the ball. For all the experience we had in our team, we appeared less mature in dealing with them in the second half.
Arsenal deserved an equaliser and came close to getting one. If this game had ended in 2-2 I’d have been terribly disappointed but I wouldn’t have complained. Few words on our goals. Firstly, there’s a question on whether that was a foul by Ramires on Coquelin. I thought it was mid-timed tackle. Wouldn’t have complained if it was called a foul. But what a ball from Azpilicueta and a what a player he’s turning out to be! And Juan Mata’s first touch for that ball was incredible and any top striker would have been proud of that finish. He was our best player last season. He’s been our best this season too.
The second goal also had Ramires in action. Yes that was a clear foul and Ramires could have stayed on his feet it would still have to be a foul. And that foul in my books is a red card for the goalkeeper any day. How Szczesny was not sent off is a mystery. If Wenfger talking about the build up to the first goal, he should also thank the referee for keeping all his 11 men on the pitch instead of playing with 10 men with a shite keeper against a rampant Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Arsenal’s goal was always waiting to happen. Theo wants to play as the striker and he once again showed why. He was constantly trying to break the offside trap and when he succeeded, I couldn’t see him not finishing. Top goal. I wish we’d signed him this month but it appears he’s signed an extension with Arsenal. For once we had a chance to sign an established premier league player who is about hit his peak and we seem to have missed him.
Once again, Rafa took too much time to make a change. That’s the only thing where Rafa really gets on my nerves. Anybody can see that Arsenal were gaining momentum and we need someone like Ba upfront to pull them back and stay a bit conservative. Yet again, he waited until the 80th min to being on Ba who did have a positive impact and could have killed the game with better decision making.
Anyway, fine derby win at home. After a strong of average to poor performances (the 8-0 aside), we badly needed to produce a positive result at home. In the current context our games against Arsenal, Spurs, Everton etc have far more significance than the ones with the Mancs. From that perspective, I’m extremely delighted with this result.
Now we’re 11 points off Man Utd with 15 games to go. I don’t even hint that we have a shot at the title. Chelsea need to win 15 games in a row and expect Man Utd to lose 4 games in the remaining 15. And then there’s Man City. But at least if we set our sight on the mancs, we’d surely finish third.
And that for me is a good return for all the chaos and drama this season. The domestic cups and the Europa feature in my list only after a third place finish (God I’ve started sounding like an Arsenal fan). But this is our season of transition. Next season, we would be a massive force with a settled and well-gelled Mata, Hazard, Oscar, Ramires, Marin and any new signings will only make us more of a threat. Let’s revel in this win for now and get ready for a cracking second leg where we smash Swansea out of sight and progress to the final of the capital one cup. Wishful thinking!