Good morning fellow Positive Arsenal fans,
Another Sunday afternoon passed in a blur of frustration as Chelsea made off with all the points in a game where I fancied, I think almost all of us fancied, that we would win and stamp our footballing superiority, indeed our collective moral superiority, over the faltering Russian Empire of SW6. A team struggling along at 14th in the Premier League facing a side that only requires a win to return to the top of the table. What could go wrong ?
As for the ‘why’s’ of the setback no doubt the gallows and bonfires of the mainstream and social media have identified and despatched their scapegoats by the cartload since the final whistle, and in some instances perhaps before !
For my part I thought young Shotts had it about right during the game yesterday when he noted that we had begun the game too keyed up, too anxious to rid ourselves the blue monkey. There was very little relaxed about our possession, our passes were too hard or too timid, and when an occasional chink opened in the visitors’ defensive armour we lashed at the ball. It was a collective nervousness, and one that it took us an hour to really get out of our system before we settled down and began to play our football. It is not the first time we have blown up against Chelsea – different players yesterday but still the same edginess that allowed Chelsea to settle – one anomaly for the manager to ponder.
As for our visitors the format we anticipated developed exactly as expected. Deep defence, hard tackling, ugly but always retaining their organisation. If they were to hurt us it would come through a swift counterattack, and so for our BFG it proved. With his dismissal nervousness turned to five minutes of panic and for the only time in the whole afternoon Costa slipped his leash. With their lead the visitors returned to the trenches.
One question someone might enlighten me on. Why did it take four+ minutes to make the Gabriel substitution ? It did not matter as the Brazillian was on the pitch when Costa scored but it seems bizarre that in those circumstances, i.e. your centre back has been sent off, both the player and the bench are not better prepared. It is hardly an unforeseeable occurrence in an AFCvCFC game is it ?
There is very little I can find to say about our first half of football. I said we started poorly, it is enough. The red card disoriented us further, the goal punished us. A risk was taken, apparently, by taking of Olivier and using Theo up front. I do not think it is an arrangement that is likely to be used again unless the Frenchman is seriously injured. I can understand however that down to ten men and a goal down it took some time to regroup and by the very end of the half and in the opening few minutes of the second we were just beginning to show a spark of quality.
After the hour and with the arrival of Sanchez we finally began to put some pressure on Chelsea, pulling their shape about, getting into shooting positions( even if the reluctance to pull the trigger persisted) and making them commit fouls that drew cards. We began to take control of the ball for the first time. Ten of our men were taking the game to eleven of their men. The Chilean was very much the catalyst of the change but his vigour, and the need to have three Chelsea players chasing him freed up space for Aaron and Mesut and they began to create. During the final half hour I thought Hector was very good on the right, very, very good in fact. We never had the visitors’ goal open before us but during that final 20 minutes we were on top and an equalizer seemed entirely do-able.
Despite five extra minutes the doing remain undone however, and so the tale I had in mind for this morning of a spirited recovery against the Fates remains unwritten, for now.
Third birthday of PA on Thursday – for those who have already produced a piece I thank you, for those who are still contemplating the floor is yours . In either circumstance don’t forget to look in and light a candle.