The Guardian, Dominic Fifield: “There were pockets of chorused defiance at the end from those who remained amid swathes of empty seats, but Arsenal’s fans must be growing weary of brutal reminders that their team are so painfully off the pace. Arsène Wenger suffered his heaviest home league defeat as this club’s manager here yesterday. What made it all the more humiliating was that Chelsea hardly had to break into a sweat to inflict it.”
Daily Telegraph, Henry Winter: “The three teams above Arsenal in the Premier League all possess a better balance between defence and attack. In thumping Arsenal, Chelsea rubbed in the importance of power and resolve, bouncing back from their Champions League distress against Barcelona with real character.”
The Times, Matt Hughes: “Such is Arsène Wenger’s endless optimism that he sees the heaviest of grey skies as a dark shade of blue, but after this second humiliating home defeat in five days even the Arsenal manager must sense the storm clouds gathering over the club. If not, then the loud booing that rang around the half-empty Emirates Stadium after the final whistle will surely have altered even his sunny disposition.”
Official Chelsea FC Website: “A win that equals our biggest in the league away to Arsenal has guaranteed automatic Champions League qualification for next season.”
This could have been the dress rehearsal for the Champions League Final. Chelsea were seconds from missing this prize whereas Arsenal were poor seconds.
I’d been finding it difficult to muster enthusiasm for the match because it felt like a 3rd v 4th play-off at a World Cup with neither team really fancying the game. However as soon as I saw the Chelsea boys striding out on to the pitch I managed to switch on to match mode.
We started sluggishly. A touch of déjà vu as our opponents played silky smooth football, with Andy Gray wallowing in their one touch interplay. But it’s all about scoring and with Walcott only capable of striking a ball five yards to the right of the goal it seemed like we were safe no matter how much Arsenal dominated possession.
Arsenal fans don’t have much to make a noise about but at least they were able to boo Drogba and Cashley at every opportunity. After 30 minutes Alex gave us the lead with an impressive powerful header. Ten minutes later Anelka doubled our score. Picking the ball up from just inside the Arsenal half, he ran towards goal unopposed before striking a decent swerving shot from outside the box. Time for most Arsenal fans to leave for their half time Balti pie with curry sauce.
Five minutes in to the second half and it was three. Cole played a neat one–two and his cross into the box was nicely tucked away as an own goal by Toure.
Of course Chelsea wouldn’t be Chelsea if they didn’t keep us fans on the edge of our seats so they sat back and invited a bit of pressure allowing Bendtner to pull one back with a full 30 minutes to go.
Arsenal’s enthusiasm after their goal was temporary and we exerted our control. This gave the cameraman the opportunity to pan around the ground showing the years of Arsenal’s trophies on the red fascia board of the middle tier, with the years ending in 2005 followed by a long gap of red. My advice to Arsenal would be to proportionally space the trophy years around the ground because it may be some time before a new year gets inserted.
Some more play followed and then the cameraman focussed on the coach of Arsenal Ladies; which was confusing because I thought we were playing Arsenal Ladies based on the power and pace on show.
With four minutes remaining Phil Dowd (can he ref our European games?) turned down an optimistic Arsenal penalty claim and a quick breakaway move saw Malouda with a one on one against Fabianski. He should have scored but his shot was pushed away to Anelka who shot against the post for it to rebound to Malouda for a tap in to make it 4-1.
This result was a welcome fillip post Wednesday. After our Cup semi-final win at Wembley Arsene Wenger criticised the pitch and claimed it interrupted Arsenal’s normal flowing football. What was his excuse today? Grass too green presumably.
- Petr Cech – 7/10 – Made some goods saves and even came out for and held crosses.
- Jose Bosingwa – 6/10 – Good going forward but exposed defending crosses in the second half.
- Alex – 8/10 – Big and powerful and great header to open the scoring.
- John Terry – 8/10 – Back to his best with clean, predictive defending.
- Ashley Cole – 7/10 – Shame his shot/cross didn’t go straight in rather than a Toure own goal.
- Michael Essien – 7/10 – Energetic.
- John Obi Mikel – 7/10 – His form has dipped recently but looked better.
- Frank Lampard – 8/10 – Up and down, workmanlike and professional.
- Florent Malouda – 8/10 – Hard working plus a goal.
- Nicolas Anelka – 8/10 – One of his better games and a good goal.
- Didier Drogba – 6/10 – Looked like a schoolboy trying his best to behave having just been let back in from standing in the corridor.
- Branislav Ivanovic (sub 77) – Brief visit to cut out crosses.
- Michael Ballack (sub 88) – Even briefer visit to waste time.
Man of the Match
Florent Malouda. His finishing and final ball should be better but surely making a claim for the best comeback since the resurrection.
Qualification for next year’s Champions League is vitally important and has now been sealed. Rather than sulking our players got on with the job in hand. It means Arsenal will have a tricky qualifier in the first week of next season and have to train harder in the pre season which may in turn result in them running out of steam later on. For us we can now play with freedom and the fun of trying to overtake the Scousers whilst getting ourselves in good shape for the FA Cup Final.
Another organised and disciplined display. I’m going to miss Guus.