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Arsenal Versus Chelsea: Avoidance Strategy

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So we go again. As the old cliché has it having fallen from a bicycle the best thing to do is leap back into the saddle and start pedalling. I’ve always taken a different approach where cycling mishap is concerned preferring to fling the painful contraption into the shed and sulk for a couple of weeks while I wait for the swelling to go down.

Arsène is quoted as saying that in his opinion it is crucial in the aftermath of defeat not to lose the following game. He says the effect on the confidence of a group of players can easily lead to a third consecutive loss and then a catastrophic slide in form. It might be seen as unfortunate therefore that we face the league leaders and clear title favourites away from home today in that very, not to be lost at all costs, follow up match. Couldn’t fate have given us an easier fixture? Watford at home perhaps?

The poet teaches us that for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction, that which goes up must come down, and it’s a funny old game. In this spirit of contradistinction might I tentatively suggest that playing what is in the common vernacular referred to as a six pointer might in fact be the best thing for us?

If our team has aspirations to achieve the very summit of its ambition then poking the champion’s elect sharply in the eye just when we appear to be flat out on the mat is precisely the tonic any self respecting doctor would order. What better way to bounce back and say yar boo sucks to the baying crowd of doubters and detractors?

Of course I would say that. Being no more than an armchair fan I see things in simple monochromatic terms and so defeat to The Hornets is solved at a stroke with victory at Chelsea. In fact even with my poor grasp of the mathematics I’d say that would still put us a point down on where we ought to be. Given, that is, if we’re being honest, most of us would have taken a win on Tuesday and a draw today.

Arsène Wenger, wily old campaigner that he is, hasn’t the luxury of such amateur knee jerk thinking. He plays the long game, focussing always on the next fixture while his great mind simultaneously plans for the season as a whole and the future of his club for years to come. Note that he didn’t say it is vital to win the game which follows a defeat. Merely that it is important not to lose. He is all about stabilising the rocking vessel and getting the thing back on its charted course. The only time the season was won or lost in a single game, at least in my memory, was at Anfield in ’89. Otherwise the title has always been a long war of attrition.

Having said all that I was unnaturally affected by the defeat this week. I suspect that with the depressing state of the world today, the probability of war, the fact of the victory of the forces of darkness within the liberal democracies, I use football as an escape from the depths, the daily dread with which I live. This is of course a ridiculous thing to do but there we are. I hope for a couple of hours of freedom from pessimism and gloom, a chance to pretend that a game is actually sufficiently important to distract me and maybe even cheer me up.

So when my team engages in the most abject first half of wayward, suicidal incompetence as I’ve seen on a football pitch in many years I experience sensations strangely similar to those of the cyclist previously alluded to who finds himself unexpectedly detached from his machine. The heroics of the second half were not quite enough and my ninety minutes of reality avoidance crashed around my ears, which, to stretch the metaphor to breaking point, haven’t stopped ringing since.

Of course I shouldn’t berate myself for using sport as escapism. Surely this is one of its central functions. Didn’t those poor benighted souls climb from the trenches during the unofficial Christmas truce of 1914 and enjoy a kick about in no man’s land? Then just like us once the game was over they returned to taking pot shots at one another.

The problem is, in days like these, when I find myself getting my knickers in a twist over a simple game of football I can’t shake the image of the band on the deck of the Titanic. I feel like Percy Cornelius Taylor agonising over a bum note as the icy water lapped against the end pin of his cello.

I am, I suppose, merely human and as fickle and two faced as every other member of that species. Win today and you’ll probably see me strolling down the side of the A367 with my hat worn at a jaunty angle and whistling a merry tune. Impending and present environmental and political disasters entirely forgotten for the moment as I bask in the vicarious pleasure of a victory I have neither earned nor from which shall I profit.

A funny old game indeed.

About steww

Arsenal, books, photography, bass guitar, dog walking, mountain biking, being on the radio, writing, talking too much, failing, making mistakes, buggering on regardless.

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96 comments on “Arsenal Versus Chelsea: Avoidance Strategy

  1. Rich for President. Absolutely brilliant comment.

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  2. Playing 11 v 11 is difficult against Chelsea but when it goes to 12 v 11, there is only one winner. Now cue a week of “Arsenal in crisis”, “Wenger Out”,”Highest ticket prices”,”13 years no league win” etc. With our midfielders returning we will get back to winning ways but for now, we have to weather a storm of negativity and flat out insanity.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. In the post match presser, Wenger didn’t pull any punches. The 1st goal was “a 100% foul” on Bellerin. I think he knows as I proved with the data that Atkinson was unlikely to make that call vs Chelsea. AW goes further to point out once thay had the 1st goal they had the advantage as they are a very good counter-attacking team. He points out that our top players were not at their best. In my opinion they didn’t have Santi to bring the best out of them.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I don’t accept that we were as second best in that game as the score line suggests.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. @shotta_gooner As I suggested awhile ago, I am surprised that we have maintained contact for so long without the Technical Leadership even if he was just training with the team it would help.

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  6. We don’t have Santi, we might as well just throw in the towel. I’m really getting weary of that sentiment, if I’m honest.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Facts tend to be boring alabamagooner. The alternative is blaming AW for all our failings. It is more sensationalist and easy for an emotive fanbase.

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  8. “We can’t win without Santi” is an alternative fact, Shotta. Your data is indicative of past performance, and is valuable in that regard. But it cannot guarantee future results in a game of almost infinite variables. It does not “prove” anything except that Santi is a great player who would add value to any team, which we already knew.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Of course we can win without Santi, but we can win better and more often with him. He is easily our most important player.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. @alabamagooner It is not a case of we can’t win without Santi,but until someone steps up and takes the lead, changes the style and function of the team.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Both above are correct given the understand of Santi’s age and what we’d seen in the promising build up with a palpable upward curve to the Ramsey-Xhaka combo before the Xhaka sending off.

    A call which any team should be able to brush off no problem, just like the uncalled reds for Costa early on this season that more then a few points for Gazprom. No problem.

    Those Costa highlights are also available on YouTube, if you’re looking…

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  12. I also didnt think the 3-1 scoreline reflected the game, I also believe the first goal was a foul however I am seriously worried about our defending as a team in the last few weeks.
    In the build up to the first goal monreal was left exposed with no midfielder infront of him or centre midfielder willing to come over to cover. As a result he gets pulled massively out wide and in turn Kos also gets drawn out to cover him, with two defenders pulled out of position the midfielders have to get back in the box. However only Le Coq jogged back and that was without conviction leaving Hector on his own. This would be bad enough on the first header but for no midfielder to be in a position to challenge for the second was just lazy. Oh by the way Jon Toral has just got an assist at Rangers.
    anyway back to our game, our midfielders and forwards were guity all game of not coming towards the ball which allowed chelski (who wern’t getting punished for going through the back of our players) to keep steeling the ball.
    We were also guilty of hanging on to the ball to long, in a game where everything was going to be challenged it was important to move the ball quickly with one or two touch passes, this is the only area where Santi would of made a difference and the area where Alexis was at his worst. When he brilliant he is brilliant but in games like this he slows up play and is a liability with posession. I think Arsene needs to be braver when Alexis is not playing well, he did not deserve to remain on today.
    If Shotta is correct we would now need to win every game to give us a decent points total to win the league which at the moment looks unlikely however we have been at sea defending as a team before and then gone a long run without conceeding to finish strongly. Going finish even in games where we dont seem fluid we still manage to score so defensive responsabilites is where we need to concerntrate not the flair we are missing in Santi tiny boots.

    Liked by 4 people

  13. I’m all about opinions George, and that’s a valid one. But it is not, and never will be, a fact. Especially when extrapolated from data where he is not an included variable. I’d be more inclined to make that assertion if he were playing and it could be evaluated, but he’s not.

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  14. I’m not suggesting its a fact, just like it was not a fact that Dennis then Fabregas then Arteta were our most important players. But, watching the game, I suggest its as near to a fact as an opinion gets.

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  15. we can win without santi definately but santi is part of our first eleven. we could have coped better if we had our other central midfield players available. we are missing santi, ramsey, elneny, granit and jack, any team will struggle against chelsea without so many players. if we had played santi and ox in the middle while others are missing, many would have said we missed coq.

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  16. No you didn’t suggest it, George. But it was, nonetheless, suggested.

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  17. Sorry, all. I’m a bit sensitive about “facts” these days. The term is being stretched so as to be almost void of all meaning. A football blog is not the place, though. My apologies.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. today was nothing about missing players, all three chelski goals were about us not working together and putting each other in dodey situations. Even the Cech error was in part caused by the slowness in first taking the throw, getting the ball back to the keeper and the amount of options we give him. Those errors are basic and not down to skill or even experience.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. I don’t know why anyone is saying that was a clear foul on Bellerin, I just watched two games where many far harder hits were put in and were not fouls either, the games at Murrayfield and Twickenham, although there was a foul called for a similar one to that of Bellerin’s, a high ball, both players contesting it (with their hands) and one caught the other in the face, ref gave a penalty, but then Rugby is a soft game compared to the real hard stuff of the BPL.

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  20. Watching the game grim faced and thinking about what we were missing (apart from the obvious – players and luck) I reckoned that the one thing we didn’t have that Chelsea did, is…..confidence.

    We’ve seen it all before of course. As has every other football fan, or sports fan even. Trouble is, we have a long serving manager who challenges the ‘majority’ opinion merely through his existence, let alone his work, and so it becomes a case of ‘same old same old’ instead of one of the facets of sport.

    And why would we have confidence in the first place when we are perpetually kept on the edge of a crisis. The people complaining most about groundhog day are those that choose to live in it.

    Maybe now though, we can move on from this desperation about winning the league and concentrate on building up fitness, performance, and confidence for the challenges ahead in the UCL and FA Cup. (Not saying that the league is no longer important.)

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Ozil had words with Alexis and Monreal on the pitch at full time, cos neither acknowledged the away fans, Alexis refused Ozil’s instructions to salute the travelling fans. but of course this shows Ozil does not care and Alexis is the only one that really feels the fans pain.

    by the way, Alexis taking that extra touch or three really shows up in games we struggle in, his selfishness on the ball can be a major hindrance on days like today.

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  22. The spuds on course to beat leicesters unusual pen count from last year

    Liked by 2 people

  23. afcstuff ‏@afcstuff 5h5 hours ago
    More
    Francis Coquelin vs. Chelsea:

    6 tackles lost
    2 fouls committed
    0 aerial duels won
    0 interceptions

    [@Squawka] #afc

    Like

  24. afcstuff ‏@afcstuff 5h5 hours ago
    Theo Walcott is the first player in PL history to be substituted off 100 times over his career. [@Squawka] #afc

    not the 100 up for Theo that we wanted, he is on 99 Arsenal goals

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  25. it appears like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s official twitter site has liked a Wenger out comment,

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  26. Will Magee ‏@W_F_Magee 5h5 hours ago
    The absolute cringe of going to a game with a ‘Time to Go’ placard that, had it been a draw, you would have kept hidden under your gilet.

    Gary Neville described the banner boy as an idiot, he really should have called him an attention seeking idiot.

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  27. Has anyone else noticed that every time we have played Chelski at Stamford bridge, we have had a game changing decision go against us that usually hands Chelsea the upper hand? From red cards, fouls, assaults, we never get anything, everything seems to favor the home team.
    It’s little wonder we have such a poor record there.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Wenger spoke out afterwards about how refs have gone soft on elbows.

    I beat him to it on this occasion (though he’d have noticed it no later than me. 2 at Preston, 2 against Burnley)

    Knew I mentioned it somewhere here last week.

    https://positivelyarsenal.com/2017/01/26/the-refs-are-biased-part-i/

    ‘I’ve thought previously that you have to keep an eye out for fouling trends in the game- with something you might rarely or never have seen before, like Adam’s chokehold, popping up again-Ivanovic/McCarthy- very soon after, if the first one goes unpunished.

    I fancied Costa’s eye-scratchery was the same last year. Didn’t feel random to me- twice on Kos then something similar on Gabriel.

    At the moment elbowing seems ‘hot’. It’s not a new one but, at least in our games, even a blatant one is currently only a yellow and often not that. Keep an eye out in the weeks ahead.’

    We’ll get a broken something or other before long if they keep coming at this rate. Teams watch what goes and doesn’t and will do anything for an advantage.

    Nostrarichus

    Liked by 1 person

  29. This is not a fact nor really much of an opinion but I know in my heart of hearts that if any of our players had made that challenge in the 13th minute the score would still have been 0-0 by the 14th minute and The Arsenal would have been down to 10 men.
    And because I feel like that I really can’t get excited by whether we played well or badly.

    Liked by 6 people

  30. I agree with Kelly and Tim.

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  31. I don’t know why anyone is calling the elbow on Bellerin a game changing decision, even without it we would have lost 2-1, come on guys get with the WOB logic, its fucking hilarious

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  32. “today was the day the scales tipped in favor of Wenger Out”

    anyone keeping count, how many times is that now that the WOB have claimed this. Odd too that many of the WOB claiming that “today was the day”, have been claiming for years that the vast majority of Arsenal fans have wanted Wenger out for years now, so which is it, today is the day, or they have held sway for years, it can’t be both.

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  33. Squawka News ‏@SquawkaNews 54m54 minutes ago
    OFFICIAL: Arsene Wenger confirms that Arsenal have offered him a two-year contract extension at the club.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. every cloud has a silver lining

    ArsenalFanTV were said to have been forced back inside Stamford Bridge today by Chelsea fans, and had to ask for a Police escort out of the ground. Jeez even the Chelsea yobs know what sort of cunts we have on AFTV, ha ha ha

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  35. The media are really going for him, the words weak…bullied….lacking mental and physical strength almost encouraging other teams to kick them and officials to let them do so, as we see game after game. Maybe one of these pub journalists might want to stand next to Ox or OG and tell them they lack physical strength. Maybe a hack who is told what to write, what to think….might want to tell a guy who rose from the French second division to captain of arsenal and become a French international that he lacks mental strength. Perhaps a slobbering wreck of an ex professional who sold his soul to MSM punditry and can hardly string a couple of words together can tell a World Cup winner he doesn’t turn up in big games.
    Many are sensing the wind of change. The two most anti Wenger blogs say he has long signed a new deal and they are just waiting for a good time to announce…..reality, or mischief? I believe the latter, as much as I believe Wenger signing on might settle the squad , I doubt if he will sign unless there is some sort of tangible improvement. I think the media believe that as well, and they sense a chance to rid us of him. The PGMOL will follow the lead of the media
    Plenty of the season left, the title has almost certainly gone, but more to fight for. Maybe even a Bavarian surprise….who knows.
    A time for cool heads, positive thought….and perhaps a bit more practice at the defensive side of the game….And things will look a bit better.

    Liked by 4 people

  36. As usual coming on here after a bad result does wonders for me, PA is my safe heaven.

    However, I don’t know for how much longer I may be able to watch professional football matches – especially the epl. Having the advantage of seeing all the matches being televised on cable, and witnessing how the officiating of AFC games are so different from others – especially the other big clubs – is beginning to spoil it all for me, being someone that loves football a lot – regardless of if its a club I love or support playing or not. But these days, while watching other matches, I catch myself mostly waiting for, highlighting, and counting the fouls that when done on us never gets called or others we get seriously punished for that gets waved off as nothing when done by others … and its eating me up. Instead of the pleasure I used to get from watching a game of football, I now get so angry…and almost depressed sometimes….
    I am thinkkng about not watching epl televised games anymore.

    Liked by 3 people

  37. I agree with the consensus, the 3-1 flattered the shit out of Chelsea. Fucking pony ass Antonio Conte, puta bitch.

    The first goal was a foul against Bellerin. Dude was fucking knocked out in the air. To hear Lee Dixon say it wasn’t a foul was fucking astounding to me. Hope he recovers and doesn’t have PTSD going forward. That’s three Arsenal superstars they’ve tried to kill. First, they went after Diaby, then they went after Ramsey and now Bellerin.

    We’re going to beat Bayern Munich.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. The media campaign against Arsene Wenger is simply unbearable.They may write whatever they think but the great man is beyond there reach. I admit the team has been not playing well recently but we are still 3rd /4th as on today despite we have been struck hard by the refs as usual. Xhaka shown red cards twice on minor challenges while other teams were not even punished for similar challenges. Had Xhaka been there against Watford we might have not faced the defeat.
    We missed him yesterday too. We could have drawn yesterday.Who knows?

    As everyone here and at Untold pointed out that this lack of form hits every team and we are no exceptions. Look at City and Liverpool .Are they doing better than us?Spurs may keep getting dodgy penalties but we are on there heels.
    I am sure we will pick up and finish strong.
    Hope we can spring a surprise in the CL as well.

    Liked by 3 people

  39. And Shogun!

    (Me reading the comments in reverse order? No never!)

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  40. And well said Mandy, too – the PA early shift has just said everything I wanted to say.

    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Well.

    After Andrew.s sterling efforts on the Debuchy injury at City we are back up to four from three significant injuries to right backs alone caused by fouls not called. Just right backs. In recent seasons.
    I thought I was going to be able to move the count on to the rest of the squad, exciting as that sounds. don’t worry I wasn’t! as you can all see, there’s absolutely no need!

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  42. You are correct, fins.

    Download & save this. I doubt it’ll be around in 6 months (or days):

    Liked by 1 person

  43. RED CARD!

    Liked by 2 people

  44. New post up

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  45. They’re going heavily with ‘bullying’ again are they?

    And yet still we wait for any sort of real description – beyond ‘get in their faces’, ‘get stuck in’- of what that entails.

    Do they mean a way of playing, of bullying, which does not feature more fouls than normal? Are we talking legitimate, non-foul football here? A mix of fouls and honest aggression? Expertise in living close to the lines of foul play without stepping over it too often?

    The least they could do is clear this up but nobody does. It would be impossible to avoid mentioning that bullying as a tactic does involve extra fouls and taking aggression up to and sometimes over the lines of fair play, and is therefore reliant entirely on a referee not spotting them or not judging them as fouls.

    Makes it extra sick if they have latched onto the theme again after yesterday’s game. The only thing they can have in their minds is that Bellerin incident, as it was not a game full of crunching tackles, nor us getting pushed off the ball, we didn’t pull out of 50-50’s.

    Whether or not you think Alonso’s challenge was not a foul is beside the point. As an example of a team being bullies or bullied it is quite an astonishing choice : eyes on the ball and jumping the only way you can is to be soft; smashing someone in the face from their blind side before heading the ball is to be a bully and capitalise, fairly, on their being soft.

    It makes absolutely no sense written out, but what else do they mean from yesterday’s game, or in all the time they have pushed that theme so hard?

    Liked by 2 people

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