The Guardian, Kevin McCarra: “If the breath is leaving Arsenal’s bid for the title so early, the cause of death will be registered as suffocation by stereotype. It is hard to avoid the focus on losers who put so much into the match for no return whatever. Nonetheless it would be implausible to suggest that they had been unfortunate. A sequence of five consecutive defeats by Chelsea in all competitions is no statistical freak.”
Daily Telegraph, Jeremy Wilson: “A sense both of déjà vu and awe pervaded Stamford Bridge on the final whistle as Chelsea eased to an ultimately emphatic 2-0 victory. The reason for the feeling of déjà-vu was obvious. Arsenal again stood accused of playing pretty football for no end product and they have now failed to win any of their past 10 matches against Chelsea or Manchester United. They have also lost their last five encounters against Chelsea and, in that sequence, are on the wrong end of an aggregate 13-2 scoreline.”
Official Chelsea FC Website: “The inspirational finishing of Didier Drogba and the power of Alex produced the goals that decided the London derby and made it five straight wins over Arsenal. They know all about him, they heard all the talk before the game but still they can’t stop him. A first-half when both sides found space in the opposition half and saw chances come and go was drawing to an end when Didier Drogba converted an Ashley Cole ball from close range to score his 13th goal in 11 starts against the Gunners.”
It says a good deal about the influence of popular culture on our lives that much of what I caught on the radio and in the papers this morning was not about today’s big game, but Paul Daniels cracking sausage related gags at a c-list homosexual gentleman and Ann Widdecombe cutting some rug (so to speak) in a colourful frock. If there are any ravens left at the Tower, surely they will have fucked off come Christmas time.
Once coverage of more important matters was located, it confirmed what the conspiracy theorists amongst our number have always suggested; there aren’t many Blues out there in media land.
The predictions were almost unanimous; Chelsea win, Chelsea win, Chelsea win and so on, ad infinitum.
Seriously, no Chelsea fan I know forecasts that kind of result against Arsenal, even if Arsene’s merry band of clever, tricky Oliver Twist types have been our bitches for some time now. Kanu, Winterburn, Silvinho and so on. Shudder.
But as so often happens with this strange business we call football, arrival at the ground raised the spirits (quite literally) and bought about that dangerous feeling we know only as hope.
The usual stroll past the West Stand was punctuated by the sight of a statue. Ossie towered above the concourse, looking out over the masses with an air of unshakeable confidence that, well, large metallic figures set on concrete plinths tend to have, provoking memories for some and questions for plenty more. If, in the ethereal world of football superstition, our near-invincible home record has anything to do with the general aura of the place, life just got an awful lot tougher for the visitors.
I can’t really be bothered with the ‘X passed to Y who played a lovely ball to Z, coming from deep blah de blah’; it’s all been written and published about five hundred times before I’ve managed to drag my Cobra-sodden body out of the Blue Elephant and into a cab towards Clapham Junction for my train home. Arsenal played pretty well, as usual, but lacked any kind of cutting edge, as usual, and we made them pay. As usual.
But in amongst all this (admittedly rather enjoyable) procedural stuff, a moment of what I like to think was Osgood-inspired magic arrived. Up stepped Alex. Bang. Fabianski’s hopeless grasp at thin, recently disturbed air went a little black and white and looked for a moment like the footage of Bob Wilson reaching in vain for an Ossie shot struck with similar conviction way back in the days of black and white.
For everything that one can scribble about football, I don’t think anyone will be able to do that particular moment justice with mere words. Magnificent; just as Gallas (spit) ripped a hole in Spurs’ hearts in the game that immediately followed Ossie’s untimely departure from this mortal coil, Alex dealt the final blow to Arsenal’s (yet again) worthy but pointless efforts down in SW6.
And that was that. Arsenal fans streamed for the exits (I’m sure it was just the impending tube strike that hastened their departure); another three points, Arsene exasperated, Carlo given a moment to smile having sadly buried his father little more than twenty-four hours ago. A pleasant stroll back past the West Stand just to check; yes, Ossie is definitely sporting an enigmatic grin. Well, he would, wouldn’t he?
- Arsene and his little tippy-tappy warriors stuffed by a marvellous mixture of artistry and force. Yet again.
- Top of the pile, four points clear and with a frankly eye-watering goal difference.
- Average performance, winning comfortably etc.
- Ossie’s statue. It really does look terrific.
- The magnificent Drog. What is it now, thirteen goals in thirteen games? If I were Arsene, I’d seriously consider making him a huge offer, either to move to the Emirates, or, failing that, just to retire. Has one player ever had such an Indian sign over one team?
- Ramires is getting much better; lost the ball a few times today, but his performance personified exactly why we won, a mixture of graft and craft. I think he’ll fit in here nicely.
- I find it terribly sad to see a great club like Liverpool languishing in the relegation zone, bereft of cash, ideas and hope. Beaten by Blackpool’s journeymen on the hallowed Anfield turf, sulking, poorly star striker and only a man with no forehead and a chap who runs with his tongue out to look to for inspiration.
- I couldn’t actually think of anything to write here, so I thought I’d just take the piss out of Liverpool. That’s Liverpool in the bottom three, in case you missed it.
The focus of subjectivity is a distorting mirror. Some German chap said that; I have no idea who he was, other than the fact he was probably never a member of the Scorpions.
Man of the Match
For your imperious defending, un-bloody-believable free kick and wondrously shiny head, Alex, step forward and collect your bouquet.
With a never-ending deluge of media coverage on matters off-pitch, it is sometimes important to remember the simple facts that make the game, at its most basic level, so maddening, depressing, inspiring and plain out-of-your-seat thrilling in equal measure.
It is not about balance sheets, profit and loss or EBITDA. It is not about morality, popularity or aesthetics. It is not about possession, completed passes or the average age, height or weight of the eleven men on the pitch.
It is about sticking the round thing in the back of the stringy thing that hangs from the posts at the end of the pitch. And ideally doing it more often that the other group of blokes on the pitch with you. Nothing more, nothing less.
There are many in the game that would do well to remember that. For the moment, in a rare display of confidence, bullishness and lager-fuelled bravado, I’d say there is no-one out there that does it better than the mighty Chelsea.
Which leads me to my final, probably ill-advised and soon-to-be-regretted question to the chasing pack:
Well, who wants some then?
- Reaction: Flighting quality
- My Hero: RIP Peter Osgood
- Peter Osgood – the King is dead, long live the King…