Good morning Positivistas,
And what a long time a week is in football ?
Of yesterday’s game, yesterday’s defeat for let us not pussy-foot about, I think it was the most comprehensive we have suffered for a long while against domestic competition. Of course we have lost games against PL opponents this season and last but not, in my view at least, when we have been beaten by a side playing better football. Sometimes we have lost to more efficient sides, sometimes we were genuinely unlucky, and sometimes our grief was self inflicted. But yesterday we played a Chelsea team who defended very well, organised and decisive. We played a team whose midfield buzzed (Kante) and created, and whose attacking threat (Costa and Hazard) was sharper on the day than our own. We played a team who are by a distance the best in the PL and came up short, in the end by their three goals to our one. Barring a collapse of Devon Loch proportions over the next few games we were beaten yesterday by the Premier League Champions of the 2016-2017 season.
There may of course and are reasons for the disparity on the day. Our many missing players v Chelsea’s almost injury free season, the early injury to Hector, of one or more of our players having a “stinker”, of refereeing decisions disadvantaging us, of the greater difficulty of engaging in domestic and European completion, and of the home sides’ access to unlimited funds et cetera. In other possible worlds other possible results can occur. And Arsene’s exclusion to the stands a further negative in determining the outcome yesterday – Discuss. And all these factors and caveats have a place in categorising the result and salving the discomfort.
One point I must make and underline is that many of our players performed to their limit yesterday. Their performances were by no means bad. For long periods of the game we had Chelsea pinned back. The third goal from Fabregas was the mid-point paradigm of “unlucky” and “self-inflicted” ( see above). Possession was in our favour. Chelsea at times wobbled precariously at 1-0 and at 2-0. We made four extremely good chances, one scored, to saved and the other a shade away from the post. To suggest the Ox did not play his heart out, or that Alex Iwobi did not at times shine is nonsense. Danny Welbeck’s late introduction and the sharpened edge he brought all over the pitch gave us a glimpse of what might have, been on another day.
Nevertheless I prefer to embrace defeat for what is was, a reverse against a superior team, as a more optimistic attitude than the choice of indifference, ignorance or sham adopted by many.
And the reason for my optimism is that we shall learn, become stronger, players will return and we shall recover our balance. The first stage of that will be over the next few days in our preparation for the Hull game. I heard this week that Arsene gave the players two days off after the Watford. I anticipate there will be no days off this week as we prepare for what is likely to be a pivotal fixture in our season, domestically and as we move toward the showdown in Munich. There is only hard work available now.
One small silver lining in this morning’s news is the recovery of Mo Elneny from his calf injury to play against Cameroon in the AFCON final at 7 pm tonight. A 44 year old keeper – whatever next ! Good luck to our Egyptian and we look forward to your return with a winner’s medal.
Enjoy your Sunday.