Oct 022010

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting really bored of hearing how we don’t have the stomach for a fight. Clearly in the build up to a Chelsea encounter, the focus is always going to be on how they have outmuscled us in the past, Drogba in particular, but the popular perception seems to be that they want it more and work harder than our ‘powderpuff team’.

I don’t buy it, I really don’t. There is no doubting that they are a more imposing team from a purely physical point of view – their players are taller, broader and more powerful, but you could say the same of Blackburn, Stoke and Bolton, teams we’ve defeated regularly in recent years despite what their managers would have you believe.

And in fairness to Chelsea, claiming their physical power is the only reason they’ve defeated us six times in a row is doing them a massive disservice. They’re a more technically able team than they’re given credit for, particularly the rejuvenated Malouda, who must be shut down tomorrow else he provides Drogba with the sort of service with which to continue his hoodoo.

If Chelsea beat us tomorrow, it will not be because we can’t handle physicality. Jack Wilshere was subjected to a series of crunching challenges against Spurs in the Carling Cup, getting up and carrying on every time. And Tuesday night saw an impressive win over a Partizan team who played in precisely the manner we allegedly cannot cope with.

It is lazy journalism – parroting the line that our team is too small and weak, and claiming that as a reason why bigger teams defeat us. Here’s a heads up – pretty much every team in the league is bigger than us. Yet we’re not near the relegation zone like, say, Liverpool.

It frustrates me that the same tired lines may come out around 6pm tomorrow. ‘We need a Vieira’, ‘We need an Adams’, ‘Our goalkeeper cocked up’. Okay, that last one might be fair.

Speaking of the goalkeepers, Fabianski will continue after his excellent game in midweek. Almunia is still out injured (I debated whether to put injured in inverted commas), and while it was fantastic to see the Pole smiling after a game, it will need many similar performances before we stop having kittens at seeing him in the lineup. At least his confidence is up a notch.

Another player whose confidence is rising is Alex Song, although perversely he is being criticised for it. Few would argue with the assertion that he was one of our best players last season, and this year he has pushed forward a lot more, offering a greater presence in the final third. This may have come at the expense of his defensive positioning, but I am of the opinion that he deserves better than the flak he’s receiving for that. He is merely trying to expand his game, almost certainly under instruction, and whenever a player finds himself further forward he will occasionally leave gaps.

Having said that, if he were to choose a game to sit and protect, tomorrow would be a good one. In Essien, Chelsea have the master of his position – a spoiler who offers a massive threat going forward, and Song would do well to make sure he doesn’t pass him by.

On the flip side, that heaps the pressure on Nasri and Wilshere, but the former was deliberately rested on Tuesday for this game, and is in his best form since joining the club. As for Wilshere, all evidence points to him not being fazed – he simply doesn’t seem overawed by any situation. He was excellent in a cauldron atmosphere on Tuesday, and I see no reason not to throw him in the deep end tomorrow. He is good enough and mature enough to cope.

We will begin the game as underdogs, and rightly so, and the continued absence of the likes of Fabregas, Van Persie and Vermaelen will make it more difficult – that is the spine of our first team, after all. But it isn’t an impossible task – Chelsea are not the unbeatable force the press build them up to be, as City showed last week, and a few of our players have a point to prove after their dismal showing later the same day.

1-1 sound good to you?

  14 Responses to “No passion for the fight? Pundits weren’t watching Tuesday night, then”

  1. I would take a 1-1 draw, absolutely. Nice article, by the way.

  2. It suits the media put peddle the tired old line that the chavs beat us coz we are soooooo small and weak. Lends weight to the outdated concept that you need a team of big ard basterds. Which in turn gives creedence to wankers like alladyce and pulis who put out teams of cloggers using questionable tactics.

    We are missing a lot of players, the chavs would be struggling big style if they had the same amount of injuries to key players, yet we are going into the game with decent prospects of a result.

    A really good post mate, nice one.

    • Absolutely – there are a series of peddled misconceptions about us. Some actually help us – there is still a belief that you should come to the Emirates and sit back. We beat everyone who does that but as WBA showed last week, if you try to exploit our defensive weaknesses you can succeed.

  3. You’re trying to be optimistic but then stop short of predicting a win.
    The match is going to really have a massive impact on the season – maybe not so much in terms of points – but confidence, and the medias perception.
    If Arsenal want to be counted, tomorrow is the day for them to stand up.

    • It’s not such much that I’m trying to be optimistic, more that I think the reasons Chelsea have beaten us in recent years are different those spouted by the press.

      They’ve drawn us in, tempted us to commit more men forward while squeezing the centre of the park and making us cross from the flanks, and then hit us on the break at speed. They’ve beaten us tactically, not physically.

      You’re right that tomorrow is huge – I think our season could survive a defeat if we show ourselves and the world that we can compete with Chelsea. Anything better than a defeat and we’re right there with them after a tough run of fixtures. But a heavy defeat could really hurt.

      This is a cliche, but the first goal is critical.

  4. 1-1 you say.

    it will be a great win tomorrow. no doubt about it.

    2-1 to THE ARSENAL . . . . !!!!

  5. Hr is right. Contrary to what I have read here and there tomorrow there isn’t just 3 points at stake. It could be a defining moment of our season in terms of confidence building and momentum creation. That is why we HAVE to win or at least draw but with a great petformance on the pitch.
    I know that this seems to heap unnecessary pressure on the players, but 5 years without a trophy tend to do just that, especially after our dismal performance last Saturday at home…

    Now having said that we have seen last year that you write off the Arsenal at your own peril even after losing to United and Chel$ea last year.

    As for this game I am CONVINCED that we can beat them. We’ll have to avoid making silly mistakes, defend compactly and take our chances when they come along-and they will, we are after all Arsenal-

    Most importantly we need to fight from kick-off all the way to the final whistle.

    • I don’t think it is unnecessary pressure on the players – if they are to win trophies they have to stand up and be counted when it matters. I take a lot of heart from last season – we were decimated by injuries and kept coming back, for me the team matured a great deal and weren’t given the credit for it.

      Get through tomorrow unscathed, get Cesc back, fully rested after the international break, and you’ll see the real Arsenal.

      You hit the nail on the head though – we must take our chances. In all the defeats we’ve had to Chelsea in recent years, we’ve always had opportunities to go a goal or two up. Take those tomorrow and we’ll be in business.

      • The 4-1 defeat at the Grove 2 seasons back was a case in point. We completely over ran them 1st half, yet missed chance after chance. How we lost that game I will never know?

        And the away game last season, we played well, but gifted then 2 goals. We have to defensively tuned in and concentrated for 90+ minutes with all the players doing their defensive bit, yes, even Arshavin!

  6. The game against chelsea will surely test the team so painstakingly assembled by the Boss. The mentality with which our players have to approach the game is the “3 points” approach. Every game this season is going to be difficult and hopefully our guys have understood after being humbled by the baggies. That being said, I feel we can beat em tomorrow. I wouldn’t say all our defensive worries have completely vanished but it certainly looks better than last season. Fabianski will be the man to watch out for. Partizan game boosted his flagging confidence and his reaction was great. If the pole can come up with an inspired performance our defense will feel confident enough to attack drogba. Onto the formation, 442 anyone? with AA playing behind Chamakh? This is the game for shooting from distance. If Song can negate Essien, then our Russian can easily jink past Ramirez to let one fly from the box. I don’t think Terry and co are the verminator types, they’ll be more interested in shackling chamakh in the box. Besides playing Nasri or Rosicky out wide gives our fullbacks greater protection against potent crosses from Cashley et al.

    Am hoping for some more Wilshere magic tomorrow, the only player on the pitch who doesn’t have the Chelsea scar in his head. No pain, No fear! GO Jack!

  7. who is the pressure realy on tomorrow? Chelsea. if we lose it will be forgotten quickly but if chelsea loses everyone will lose their minds. so have faith the players are under less pressure and i am sure petr cech will have a worser game than fabi. he cant deal with corners and uhm… Chamakh!

  8. err.. hafl the team is foregin. Does french people even have a soul? Does foregins have soules can they they have a fightigh spirit ?Did they win ww2? no that was the brits, only people in the world with a soul and a passiopn to win is the brits.And sometimes people from the colonies like Drogba(nobody cares if he is from the colonies or not, but the brits must have had some influence, how els would he become a fighter?)

    Its clear to me as a SKY pundit that for Chelsea this is another Blackpool meeting. They look at Arsenal and KNOW they will winn 5-0 and KNOW they are the best and KNOW this will bee sooo easy. if Chelsea wins they prove they are the best. If Arsenal wins they are LUCKY! mark my word they ar LUCKY! If they win the leage they are even more LUCKY and chelsea has been extremly unlucky.

    CHelse is the best, regardless who wins the leageue, the cl the anything.
    I know cos im SKY pundit and they dont pay me for nothing!

    preatty good immitation huh?

  9. I have to add, as a mere spectator, you should really belive the pundits. if they say we are to weak, we are, if they say our players are crap we are. Its important that you let your mind ge clouded by the likes of merson et al. I mean after all they do know ALOT more about footy than you. You may risking looking silly infront of friends and scoolmates if you trie dto suggest that Arsenal actually is a good team. Especially if we were to loose tonite. To suggest we are a good team then is suicide!!!!

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