Lots of football fans are spending a lot of time discussing the various merits of teams not their own. There is even a rift among Arsenal fans – but fear not for this is a rift of the gentlest and least acidic nature – as to whether Leicester City should stop irritating everyone and bugger off or whether they might continue just long enough to take points from Manchester City. Some are looking nervously over their shoulders towards Paxton Road as the noisy neighbours continue to stack up points in what looks like a irritatingly consistent fashion. Others worry that Manchester United, despite being written off as a disaster movie, are actually still in fifth place and hardly an irrelevance given their historical tendency to spoil things for everyone around them.
Supporters, like gunslingers in a wild west saloon, sit nervously fingering the hammers on their Colt revolvers, casting quick uncertain glances around the room unsure where the real danger lies. Such is the nature of the 2015/16 season. Uncertainty is king, the unexpected the only thing worth betting on. Some adventurous fellow was actually giving out his score predictions for all the top six clubs over the next few games. I read them and stood to applaud such selfless endeavour. Bravo sir. Could I suggest you perhaps get a hobby? Maybe he thinks he already has one.
The fourth estate, that foetid swamp of amoral, parasitic blood suckers doesn’t know which way to turn and is terrified that Arsène may put two fingers up to the lot of them and actually win the title. Instead of simply acknowledging where the club is they are trying to pile on pressure with their ‘the best chance for years’ narrative or as in the case of disaffected ex players like Robson openly stating that Arsenal ought to win the thing so that if anybody else does it can be painted as a huge failing by the manager and players.
I have a subtly different take upon all this hoo-ha and folderol. As soon as we hit the top of the table I actually cease to give two hoots about any of the other teams regardless of their upcoming matches or current form. Only when they appear on the Arsenal fixture list do they even truly exist for me. You see, my fellow followers of football’s finest, the time to worry about what the others do or don’t do is when we are chasing them not the other way about.
When my mother taught me to drive back in the halcyon days of the Triumph TR7 and Ford Fiesta XR2i, she would swat away any comment I made about the vehicle driving in such close proximity to my rear end that it appeared to be attempting to mate with my lumbering Austin Maxi. She would tell me in no uncertain terms not to worry about what was happening behind me “Let them worry about you” was her mantra and it is sound advice whether on the A362 or when contemplating a possible push for the Premier League pole.
We, in contradistinction to all other sides, enjoy the comfort of only needing to concern ourselves with our own result. Win today by any margin and we go top again. It is a splendid state of affairs. If and when it changes I shall alter my stance and ponder the results of the team or teams in front of us. Until then I’m not interested in the rear view mirror. There is only one goal and that is victory against Chelsea.
Any other year and a visit from any other team languishing in fourteenth place might not cause much of a flutter. Add to this the possible return of two of our better players and one might have expected a little more confidence in the run up to such a game. Except of course it isn’t any other team is it? It is the demon spawn of Fulham. The financially doped, universally despised, diving, cheating, thuggish ensemble of brattish, unsavoury ne’er-do-wells who have never made life easy for us. Like Liverpool and Stoke I expect them to raise their game today. The graph showing their league progress this season may have virtually flat-lined over the last dozen games or so but they still posses a talented and capable squad and we will need to be at our most truculent, determined best to prevail.
The table however, does not lie. Arsenal is where it is on merit and likewise our visitors are where they are on merit. Play to our potential and we can beat anybody. Refuse to rise to their illegal tactics or respond to their deliberate provocation and we will return to the top of the table this evening.
A capable referee is vital in this fixture as anyone who witnessed the debacle at Stamford Bridge can attest. I see that a certain Mr Clattenburg holds the whistle, cards and shaving foam today. I won’t presume to be able to distinguish his ability from any of the other hapless and most probably corrupt gang of useless, myopic and inconsistent fools who spoil so many matches every year, but I’m sure Andy Nic has Clatty’s picture on his bedroom wall and will be better placed to tell us what a decent, professional and responsible fellow he is. So I’ll leave that to you Andy.
Personally I used to hate playing Chelsea above all other teams. Their demise as a threat and the departure of the graceless one has somewhat drawn the sting as far as that goes. I still want to beat them of course. Granted, given that a win puts us back on top, I want us to beat everyone we play so that doesn’t mean much. I just feel, Diego Costa aside, that a little of the venom has left this particular fixture and that is all to the good.
Calm professional heads needed from now until May, I fancy. The kind of serene determination best able to shuck off the occasional predictable disappointment and get back to winning ways tout de suite. I firmly believe we have these kind of players. Given even half decent luck with injuries and a bit of backbone from the fans we should be there or thereabouts.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s do that which needs to be done today and allow tomorrow to wait until its appointed hour. At the time of writing our destiny is still in our own hands, get the job done today and we can begin to prepare in a similar vein for the visit of Southampton, with whom we also have a little unfinished business to attend. Oh dear, just listen to me, preaching live for today and at the same time lifting the skirt of the calendar to peep upon the knickers of tomorrow. I apologise. I will leave you to your pre match rituals. I’m off out to brave the weather on my trusty mountain bike and assuming I don’t leave the saddle in an unplanned and deleterious manner I shall return and resume our intercourse down among the wines and spirits. Salut!
This vine misses the fact that Per got dragged out of position before the pass and even more importantly misses Costa proving to be a cheating bastard who went rolling and tumbling after minimal contact to get Per sent off.
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you dont think that per thought he’s got a chance gettingthe ball? i dont think per would go for a tackle if he feels he has no chance. i still think he missed it at the last moment because he took his eyes away from the ball for a moment.
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2 refreshing things from today’s game – the snake got the booing he so richly deserves and the Arsenal Supporters were abusing the diving, cheating costa for a change rather than their own players!
The difference between our players and chelski’s is that the latter are prepared to dive and roll around theatrically at the slightest touch i.e. cheat if it will get them an advantage. Our players are too honest and try to play to win, they don’t take a tumble since there is no point as we never get the decision anyway, even when it’s genuine.
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spot on passenal, we don’t expect to get even nailed on penalties, so when kos gets fouled in the box late in the game, there is no throwing himself to the ground looking for a penalty, he tried to keep control of the ball and keep the move going. The fact is that clattenburg should have given the penalty without the need for kos to dive and roar and roll around pretending to be in agony. By the way Clatt should have given the Snake a penalty too.
Per did fuck up on the challenge, why he looked away as he was making the challenge only he knows, but the sort of play acting by Costa should receive a yellow. Its simulation, plain and simple.
WENGER ON THE DEFEAT, RED CARD, ALEXIS
Arsène Wenger faced the media after his side’s 1-0 defeat to Chelsea. This is what he had to say:
on Per Mertesacker’s red card…
I think it was quick and harsh, but I have to watch it again. What can I change? It doesn’t change anything. The referee made the decision and we have to get on with it. I didn’t speak to Per Mertesacker [about it].
on whether there was contact with Costa…
We have 35 journalists here, I am sure you have all seen it again and analysed it and know much more about that situation that I do. I can’t comment because I didn’t know if Costa was offside or not or if Per touched him or not. I don’t know. It was of course frustrating but it is a decision and we had to get on with our job, which we did.
on the performance…
The team [after the red card] was focused and fought until the last second. Despite the disappointing result, we should have even more belief in ourselves after the game, when I see how it went.
on substituting Giroud…
You want to make a poll for every decision to see who does what? I made the decision and for me it was quite normal. We had to go for long distances and we needed pace to go from one goal to the other. We knew we had to drop deeper and use pace to get forward.
on Costa’s role in the red card…
You want me to say things I am not interested in. I said Costa got two of our players sent off in the last two games against Chelsea. Those are facts. Was the decision right or wrong, I don’t know but those are facts. Without accusing him of anything.
on Theo being captain…
Yes [it was planned].
on whether it was a distraction…
No, you can find many reasons but you never really know. We are frustrated after the game because we could not play with our real assets. I don’t think that is down to Mertesacker giving the captaincy to Walcott.
on whether Giroud was fit…
I think yes, but it was a bit in my mind if he gets injured, with his ankle, he was a doubt, he didn’t practice yesterday and today we declared him fit. It was on my mind. But I had to change a player and I thought that was the most rational decision with all the factors.
on Alexis’ performance…
He came on quite well. It took him a while to get into the game but in the last 20 minutes he was sharp.
on the recent record against Chelsea…
Today was a special game. We were down to 10 men and we were 1-0 down straight away. Normally you lose a game like that 3-0 or 4-0 when you have to chase it – there is nothing more dangerous when you are down to 10 men. Overall we come out with a lot of regrets because we couldn’t play with our team and looking at Chelsea today there wa s a lot of room to beat them if we had 11 players.
on the disciplinary record against Chelsea…
I would not compare today’s situation [with last time]. It was not a confrontational situation like at Chelsea, it was a fact of the game and the decision of the referee. I don’t think it was linked with bad behaviour or attitude.
Copyright 2016 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source
Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20160124/wenger-on-the-defeat-red-card-alexis#28wZGiqUz6OAl2oM.99
I note that Wenger was asked about our disciplinary record against Chelsea, he batted it away, but I do think it so very odd that we have so often in the last ten years had so many players sent off v Chelsea, and if memory serves me, many times when the game was still in the balance, we’ve had four sent off in our last four games, and I might be biased but I have often felt that while we get the reds and yellows, CFC players got lenient treatment in the same games. Why are officials in a rush to book or send off AFC players in this fixture, but CFC players seemed to have impunity. We’ve seen it in the league, we’ve seen in FA Cup semi finals and we’ve seen it in a league cup final.
We’ve had battles with many clubs over the years, Man utd spring to mind, but even at the height of our rivalry with Utd there was never this keenest by refs to put AFC down to ten men, yes we had sendings off, but usually well warranted, yes utd got off with lots, but I do feel that in AFC v CFC games its at whole new level. I do wonder why that is.
I think we have had 10 players sent off v Chelsea in Wenger’s time at Arsenal.
OK – we’ll have to agree to disagree. I still don’t see an atom of contact.
Sadly, cheating and diving comes second nature to a team that has been managed by Mourinho, maybe Kos should have gone down, but he will not be as good, or rehearsed as a Chelsea player, and since I think he was already on a yellow, he would have risked a red and a ban by opening himself up to being accused of diving.
We rarely get those decisions, we have been given two penalties this season…..to Leicesters 8 . For perspective, believe Liverpool got something approaching 13 pens in the season of the Gerrard slip.
Although, it has to be said, refs are in general not handing out too many pens this season…..Leicester aside.
The thing that bothers me is the issue of whether Per’s lunge is a foul REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THERE IS CONTACT OR NOT as put forward by Peter Schmeichel on Sky Sports at half-time. I can’t get my head around that at all.
Please tell me it’s bollocks.
It is and it isn’t bollocks
If a player jumps in with both feet off the ground into a challenge, or leads with their studs at head height then the referee will call a foul(and probably whip out a card) for such reckless, dangerous play whether the assault connects or not.
Where a player goes in for a fair tackle but mistimes it and there contact then it is a foul but no card. If there is no contact however it ain’t a foul.
well for me the incident that summed up the ref today was when he gave handball v Ramsey when the chelsea player had taken him down, Clatt was right beside the incident.
If I understand you correctly Andrew, what Schmeichel said in this particular situation was bollocks.
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“the kos block on fabregas … he has lost possession of the ball before he was obstructed.”
Ha ha, nice try, layksite – not in the game I was watching. He lost possession of the ball because Kos knocked him over like a skittle.
Onward and upward – still plenty to play for.
Many a slip etc.
Wenger on the crowd’s reaction to taking Giroud off: “Do you want to make a poll for every decision?”
I was as disappointed as Giroud when he went off, but I understood why Arsene would keep Theo on. He has historically done well against chelski and his pace was a weapon they fear. Unfortunately Theo was not at his best today and I don’t think he has been for a few games. Hopefully it will turn out to be the right decision to let him play himself into form for the run in.
with a midweek BPL game v Southampton midweek after next Saturday’s FA Cup game v Burnely, I expect wholesale changes to the Arsenal starting 11, Per will be suspended (I see some saying it will be 3 games, but I think it will only be a one game ban), a game he would most likely have been rested for anyway, we might see 10 or 11 changes,
shouldn’t the following starting 11 be good enough to beat Burnley, and that is not to down play Burnley, my reasoning is that in fact this 11 should be good enough to beat all but the very best teams.
Debuchy Chambers Gabriel Gibbs
Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rosicky, Alexis
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Remember when we were invincible…..and also regularly used to go on 21 games unbeaten runs……..well, a frustrating day, a few issues that need improving, shooting boots need polishing, a lot of doom mangers about, apparently we have not only blown the league, but surrendered the north London balance of power…..again.
But the important point, wengers teams when firing can and do go on runs, and that’s what will win the league this season.
And as it stands after this weekend, the longest unbeaten run in this league is not 49 games, not 21 games, not 10 games……but 3 GAMES! Take a bow Southampton.
Keep the faith, a mad season, we have experienced, and are experiencing adversity, but we are still right up there
it not block dk, it was obstruction. he didnt pull or push him. i dont think there is anything like block in the rule book. he already push the ball away to another arsenal player ( not kos ) and he has no chance of retrieving it. in any case, obstruction is not direct free kick in the law of the game. it is an indirect kick.
edu, i dont expect too many changes in the fa cup. and dont expect debuchy too. i expect coq though, since he’s already in training.
aside from the goal conceded, i thought gabriel played very well and handled himself well against costa.
alexis has really wet my appetite with his display in the game. he seems better than he was before the injury.
Fuck Chelsea and these cheats in the English football establishment.
I knew they would pull something again. Cheating scum.
The only thing you can really pick Per up on is that just before he tries to make the tackle he looks over his shoulder,perhaps if he hadnt have done that he would have been able to cleanly tackle the beast. Pure speculation on my part but to me that a key moment and one of the few times Ive ever seen Per make a real mistake( rather than the relative ones the WOB try to pin on him. But I cant see any contact. Perhaps Costa was affected by the aura of Per, and couldnt cope?(smiley/winkey etc).
It does point to Costa being the kind of footballer that cant play the game within the rules but always tries to get players sent off.Why would you do that? And what are the deeper psychological means from that?
Perhaps the FA should call the beast in and ask him why he was rolling around after no contact and had he recovered form his deep pain.Then hand him a BAFTA no doubt with a little card saying “well done”.
Its time for video play back and instant punishment to the actors, imho.
Old fart’s thoughts:
With some half a billion quidsworth of talent on view, the first 18 minutes were unbelievably poor. Air shots, Joel missing a good chance; passes all over the place, especially out of play and tension affecting both sides badly. Ain’t it just sod’s law that the first really threatening pass from Willian should result in Per’s dismissal. Whether Costa dived or was brought down is immaterial and doubtless will be debated at length but it left us with 10 men plus a forced substitution. Personally hooking Olly wouldn’t have been my choice, Theo or Joel seemed more likely candidates and in retrospect, Theo captain for the day or not, proved that it was not the best decision. Presumably the thought of his speed plus Oz back in the squad determined the thinking.
Whatever, we paid for it big time when a few minutes later, our re-organised defence left Costa free and his close range shot gave Petr no chance. Talk about rubbing salt in the wound.
But we did settle down. Overall the side performed bravely and created more than a few half chances but apart from creating panic in the Chel$ki rearguard, no reward. Alexis came on to great acclaim and was buzzing from the word go. Seeing him and Oz back in the side was one happy moment of a disappointing day which deserved an equalizer. Hopefully Burnley will be dispatched next week and we draw them in the next round!
New Post is up
olly was shoked or even angry to see his number up. yes, he should. i like it that way, unlike joel in the second half that stopped playing the moment he saw sanchez was about to be brought on. you are one of the better players on the day, why should you expect to be subbed off?
as for olly, i will want his to chennel his anger towards one question, why would the manager remove the highest goal scorer? will barca sub messi in that situation? will madrid sub ronaldo? or leicester sub verdy? i want him to really channel his anger towards making himself indispensible to the team. if wenger could sub the best scorer, then there is something he is not doing well.
lets forget about the run behind thing. we have more chance at set pieces in the game at that moment than running behing zuma. i like walcott, but to play as a loan striker with a man down against chelsea is asking too much from him.
Yeah, I would have preferred to have gone down a goal. Giroud was up for this game and was playing a blinder until he came off. We would have scored a few and won it.
Fuck it, we’re tied for second and we have half a season to go. Our team at 100% is better than everyone else in the league.