With the risk of sound overly negative I do feel that Arsenal’s 2-1 loss to Chelsea on Sunday has all but ended their chances of winning the title. Sure, there are still seven games to go and Manchester United still have both Chelsea and Arsenal to play, but Arsene Wenger’s side are now six points off the top and I can’t see them making up the deficit unless they win all their remaining games. Gael Clichy thinks it’s still possible (bless his heart) but given that the boys have taken just four points from their last five games, this looks a long way off happening.
Nevertheless, football is a funny game and I will not be giving up just yet. While I now feel that Arsenal will not win the Premiership this season I will be watching every one of the remaining seven games with great interest. This side have not come this far just to let it all fade away and hopefully they can get things going in the right direction again this weekend against Bolton.
Looking specifically at the Chelsea game, I felt that although Arsenal played OK the home side were worthy winners. It was heartbreaking to watch given that Wenger’s side took the lead through Bacary Sagna’s first goal for the club (how good is that guy by the way?!) but Chelsea had more possession and made more chances throughout the match and deserved the win. To win games like this you need a little bit of luck and when Sagna went down injured it really impacted on Arsenal’s organisation at the back, something that Wenger was quick to point out after the match.
“We were 1-0 up and had it all in our hands. We needed a bit more defensive authority as the game was there to be taken. We had plenty of chances on the counter-attack when they went 4-4-2. It was just a matter of time to score the second goal. We were not serene enough defensively.”
Unsurprisingly it was Didier Drogba who capitalised on the poor defending to single-handedly steal the game away from Arsenal. There is so much to admire about the way Drogba as a player but when he consistently wins matches against the team you support it’s really hard not to hate him. Especially when he dances like an absolute toolbot after scoring a winning goal as important as the one on Sunday. Up yours Didier you evil, evil man.
If Arsenal were defensively poor in the final half-hour, offensively they looked a little out of ideas from the outset. For me, most of that seemed to be down to a lack of sharpness and a general feeling that the team looked both physically and mentall tired. The three main game-breakers in the side; Emmanuel Adebayor, Cesc Fabregas and Alexandr Hleb, looked jaded throughout and it was clear as day to me that they are absolutely buggered at the moment. I’d argue that the lack of genuine depth in the squad and consistent injuries to potential replacements has denied Wenger the ability to give those players a rest every once in a while to recharge the batteries. While Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez look fresh for Manchester United at this crucial stage of the season, Arsenal’s top players look very, very flat.
There’s no point questioning the size of the squad at this stage of the season but Wenger would be mad not to add a little more depth in the summer. In the short term, it wouldn’t be the worst idea to give one or two of Adebayor, Fabregas and Hleb a rest against Bolton to allow them to regain their freshness and give some other players a chance. In particular, I’d really like to see Nicklas Bendtner start against Bolton. Readers will know how much I love Adebayor and he’s been absolutely immense this season but Arsenal are really in a bit of a rut at the moment and I think some small changes need to be made to get back to winning ways. Bringing in a hungry Bendtner just might do the trick.
It was a pretty tough weekend to be an Arsenal fan but as someone once said, it’s not over ’til the fat lady sings. Although Arsenal’s chances of winning the league are now very slim, I do get the feeling that she won’t be singing for another six or seven games. So stick behind the boys and give them your support and hopefully Wenger and his side can get things back on track against Bolton this weekend. Fingers crossed.
What do you think?
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