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Chelsea 3-1 Arsenal – Men Vs Boys

Sometimes, you can make the right calls, all the correct decisions – but it doesn’t matter.

This game saw Chelsea throw down the challenge to the rest of the so-called challengers – to try and stop them marching on to another title. They toyed with the Gunners and at times it was painful to watch. 

Arsenal’s weak title challenge was ended once Martin Atkinson blew his whistle for full-time – but it had flattered to deceive the whole time. Arsenal have not applied any real pressure on the top of the league, and they have not shown form that is worthy of the label ‘contenders.’

It is incredibly painful for me to write this, but the stark contrast between the teams was there for all to see – and the difference will be in May when Chelsea will be holding the Premiership title.

Arsenal opted to leave Olivier Giroud on the bench and go for Theo Walcott and Alexis sharing striking duties. It was the correct decision as Giroud would have gotten short shrift from Chelsea’s defence. 

To maximise this offensive change and cause Chelsea damage, we needed runs though. 

We started well, and the faded, disjointed first halves that have been a staple for this season did not appear. We pressed the home side and Alex Iwobi very nearly gave Arsenal the lead inside five minutes, shooting just wide after he and his cohorts squeezed the Chelsea defence.

Chelsea soon got to grips with Arsenal, and our pressing became diluted. This lack of covering saw Chelsea grab the lead.

A cross from Pedro saw Diego Costa rise highest and his header smacked against the crossbar with Cech beaten. The ball spun off the bar into the air, waiting for someone to claim it. Marcos Alonso did so and headed into the empty net, via knocking Hector Bellerin to the ground with his elbow.

Some say it was a foul, some don’t. The facts are he led with his elbow and it WAS a foul. 

Regardless, Chelsea went into the break a goal up, and the old script of previous encounters with Chelsea seemed to be in place again.

Eight minutes after the restart, Conte’s men put the game to bed, and end Arsenal’s slim hopes. 

Eden Hazard went on a slalom run, and his marker Oxlade-Chamberlain let him. What it needed was a cynical challenge to stop the Belgian, but it didn’t come. Instead he was allowed to continue, and after bamboozling Koscielny, he slotted into the corner. 

Chelsea were looking imperious. Arsenal had put in plenty of effort, but a shifting attention to pressing and poor covering of runs meant that their opponents in blue always had the edge.

Then, insult was added to grievous injury. Cesc Fabregas had only been on the field for a minute, but he capitalised on a ridculously poor Petr Cech clearance to lob into the net over the stranded keeper. 

Laughable. Humiliating. Deserved.

Giroud was a sub in the second half and he grabbed a consolation late on from a Monreal cross, but the truth is – this match had been over from the first minute.

Here are five things that really need to change on the pitch, from this moment onwards;

Maintain the Press

We started so well, but with each passing minute, our grips on Chelsea’s midfield weakened. By the end, they had the freedom of the pitch. If we are to press, then we need to do so as a team. We also need to keep up the effort. 

Switching off is not condoned

Some of our players looked visibly sapped by the end of the game. Some of them looked that way DURING the game. This was not only a derby, but it was the game which would either let us dream or destroy our bid for another season. There is no room for passengers.  This was not good enough at all.

The Ox and Gabriel are surplus

Gabriel, time and again, has shown that he is not Arsenal standard. He does not track, he is rash, and he leaks goals. The Ox has had ample time to grow. He has shown promising glimpses of what he can do, which  has lengthened his Arsenal career. He is inconsistent though, and has been from the start. Some will argue that he has not had enough games, but he has made over 115 appearances in the Premier League alone since he joined in 2011. He was markedly out of his depth in this game and he cannot be depended on.

Petr Cech needs to step up

It may be form, but this season has been Cech’s worst in the Premier League. He has looked rigid, unable to flex for saves – and his normally unshakeable hold on his box has looked anything but steady. His mistake for Chelsea’s third was something I can’t recall seeing from Cech. His own high standards will tell him that he is letting his club – and himself – down in a big way.

Where is the edge?

Eden Hazard, when scoring his goal, could have been brought down by Coquelin and a couple of other players. He could have been halted. He wasn’t and look what happened. Alexis did the same thing for us, and Nemanja Matic went into the book for stopping his progress. There is the difference. Chelsea are professional. They play great football when it calls for it, but when the game is dirty and it needs a firm hand, then they do that too. We looked like a promoted side in the face of Chelsea’s approach. We need to toughen up – but not in the way that Granit Xhaka has attempted to do.

I’m going to wrap this up, as I really am not enjoying this.

Bayern Munich in the Champions League means our Euro hopes are up against it. Chelsea have destroyed us in the Premier League. If we play like we have in our last two games, then Sutton will be ending our FA Cup dreams.

I need a drink. 

Chelsea Vs Arsenal – The Warm-Up

With the disappointing – and quite frankly anger-inducing – loss to Watford, this game at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea could not carry any more weight.

It is feasible to suggest that if the Gunners fail to win this game and it is lights out for this season’s title challenge – in February.

Arsene Wenger will again be missing from the touchline, and he takes a security team with him as he will be sitting in the away section of Chelsea’s home. This game is the third of four games he must be absent from the dugout, and how his team will fare without him in the heat of the enemy’s support is up for debate.

Arsenal will have to do without a host of central midfield options for this game. Granit Xhaka is suspended, Mohamed Elneny is still wth his country competing in the AFCON, Santi Cazorla is no nearer to making a comeback from his injury woes – and now Aaron Ramsey is out for this game after straining his calf. The Welshman is expected to be out for three weeks, so his replacement is thought to be Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The Ox himself had a fitness test, but is expected to make the team.

Besides, who else can do it? Francis Coquelin is the only available recognised central midfielder, so a central partnership of The Ox and Coquelin will be taking to the pitch at Stamford Bridge. Ainslie Maitland-Niles played well last weekend against Southampton, but the opposition is a level up from what he has previously faced. 

Who else will be missing? Olivier Giroud is another Gunner to have faced a fitness test, but Danny Welbeck will be available, as will Theo Walcott. So who plays in our attack? Welbeck and Walcott are very much in form, and their pace and movement will be a nightmare for David Luiz and co. So will Wenger stick with what he knows and include Giroud again? The Frenchman has proved his worth time and again, but what he brings to the table is very much what Chelsea’s defence are extremely adept at dealing with.that sort of battle.

Could they stymie a combined attack of Walcott, Welbeck and Alexis? 

It will also bring the best out of Mesut Ozil, who has been sub-par of late. The German is the best player to spot the abundant runs of the trio above, but it is Wenger’s call. Does he opt for the cut and thrust of the Arsenal of old? Do we finally take the handbrake off? It has seldom been taken off recently.

Elsewhere in the side, Petr Cech returns to the location where he was a huge success. The big Czech criticised his teammates this week regarding their mentality, and the goalkeeper certainly recognises a winning outlook when he sees it. He will be between the sticks for the game, and the recognised Arsenal back four of Bellerin,. Mustafi, Koscielny and Monreal are all ready and raring to go.Mustafi was nursing a knock midweek, but should make the game.

The defence will be well versed with the chief threat in the Chelsea camp. Diego Costa has made his presence felt in more ways than goals in previous encounters. Koscielny won the battle in the last fixture between the two – can he do so again?

We have a poor recent record at Stamford Bridge, and with literally our Premier League campaign on the line – it is high time we rectified the situation.

Time for this squad to show what they are made of. 

Predicted Lineup: Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott, Ozil, Alexis, Welbeck.

Precited Scoreline – 2-0 to Arsenal.

Who Will Win the Golden Boot?

With just over half of the season already played out, the pecking order in the Premiership table is starting to take shape. 

The indicators for which sides are the cream rising to the surface, and which are simply floating with no purpose in the middle, are clear to see. These teams grouping near the top of the league are there through superior tactics, a stout rearguard or ample firepower. Even if they have a modest armoury, these clubs will not be sitting in the position they are in without at least some goals.

Goals are the currency on which results are earned, and every team has to pay the price to get into the VIP club – the European places. Without goals in your pocket, you will not get past security.

Chelsea, Arsenal, tottenham, Manchester City, Manchester United and even Everton have contenders for the crown of top goalscorer for the season. Whomsoever of these hotshots grabs the accolade, it may just be enough to fire them above their rivals for a very esteemed league position? 

So, who is odds on for the Golden Boot? We look at English Premier Betting at William Hill for a hint at which of these strikers may just give their side an edge in the latter half of the season:

Diego Costa

The turbulent Brazilian turned Spaniard has apparently turned over a new leaf since Italian coach Antonio Conte has taken over at Chelsea. His 15 goals scored thus far have seen the best of Costa, and his efficient finishing has seen him rise to prominence in Chelsea’s rise to the top of the league. If things continue in this current vein, then Costa will be one of the leading contenders to win the top scorer award. It wouldn’t be Costa without one blot on the copybook, and his recent hiatus from the side was shrouded in mystery amidst rumours of a bust-up with the very coach who has been responsible for returning him to form. What the fallout will be from this is debateable, but Costa is sitting pretty right now. 

Alexis Sanchez

This striker from Chile is on fire. He has been on such form that defenders have no answer for his high jinx. He is currently level on goals with Costa, and has rescued his side on numerous occasions. He is also regarded in the same way by the bookies, as his odds are similar to Costa’s too. Fitness is one thing that Alexis prioritises as well as playing time and that should see him get enough games to grab the goals that keep him in contention. He is also the striker with the most assists in this list. An all-out Action Man.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

The giant Swede has continued to bang in the goals after his move from Paris Saint Germain, and his aerial ability and self-belief have given United a life raft in the sea of mediocrity. Jose Mourinho has overseen a run of results which has seen them ride on the coattails of the frontrunners, but fail to make any inroads on the gap between them and the Champions League places. Zlatan has been the difference between points – and no points. He did go through a dry spell, but he is only one goal behind the top two strikers, so it obviously didn’t hamper him and his giant ego too much. 

Harry Kane

This slack-jawed poor annunciator has continued his goalscoring from the previous season, and his team are looking very dangerous. He has also missed a few weeks and is still amongst the hottest of strikers. Kane is profiting from plenty of chances crafted by Delle Alli, Christian Eriksen and their effervescent full-backs. Harry Kane is indeed the real deal and will definitely be amongst the shouts for top scorer, but right now, he is two goals behind Sanchez and Costa. Last seasons top scorer has some work to do.

Romelu Lukaku

The big Belgian has his detractors, but just like last season he is firing the goals in. The Toffees have been ridiculously inconsistent, but the one thing they have been able to rely on is Lukaku. The big man is surely on the radar of some big clubs, and has 12 goals so far. Even in his teams poorest spell he was still bagging goals, so he cannot be discounted. Last season he finished four goals behind Kane and in third place overall. Can he go two places better?

Sergio Aguero

The Argentinean is four goals behind in the stakes, but only a fool would not consider him. He has missed a large part of the season – four games alone through suspension – but he is still in contention in the face of this. He has the pedigree, but does his team? Man City are stuttering, but he will be forever amongst the goals. If his hamstrings stay healthy, then Aguero will be on the list. Maybe a bit more teamplay may benefit Aguero – he is the only striker on the list who has not registered an assist. 

There are a few others in the running. Jermain Defoe is proving age and playing for Sunderland is not doing him any harm. The 34year old has 12 goals so far. Just imagine if he was playing for a team who created just a little more. Delle Alli has eleven goals to his name as his star burns ever brighter. There is no reason why this youngster cannot continue to plunder as he has done thus far.
These are the runners and riders for the Golden Boot 2016/17.

Who is your money on?

Stamping Out Stamping – Time for Punishment.

The League Cup Semi Final 2nd Leg featuring Chelsea and Liverpool brought to the fore an issue that has pestered Professional Football for too long, rearing its petulant head with unwanted regularity. No, not the Stevie Gerrard Fan Club. The problem is stamping.

Costa stamp

With Diego Costa’s ‘challenge‘ on Martin Skrtel came a wish from the native Brazilian Brazilian to cause injury to the Slovakian defender.

Continue reading Stamping Out Stamping – Time for Punishment.