Premiership review: Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea

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Match reports

The Guardian, Kevin McCarra: “Who would have thought that Chelsea could turn themselves into gallant losers? If a third consecutive Premiership title was to be denied the Stamford Bridge side, they failed with a show of strength and talent. That let them come back for a draw despite being down to 10 men for the whole of the second half after the dismissal of the hapless Khalid Boulahrouz. Their desire to pull off the win that would have postponed the end of the contest with Manchester United was remarkable.”

The Times, Matt Dickinson: “They gave it a good go – they always do – and a mighty effort by the Chelsea players almost kept the title race alive for another few days. Jose Mourinho was rightly proud of their endeavours, although, typically, he was not about to shower the new champions with praise to go with their champagne. “They got more points than us,” he said. “Congratulations to Manchester United, but that is it.””

Daily Telegraph, Henry Winter: “Like fallen warriors, Jose Mourinho’s erstwhile champions were carried out on their shield, every drop of sweat expended for the cause. The sight of Chelsea’s inspirational leader, John Terry, pushed into emergency centre-forward action late on here, supported by Scott Sinclair and Salomon Kalou, signalled the shortage of resources. Chelsea were not so much down to the bare bones, as scraping the marrow.”

The Independent, Sam Wallace: “The title on a plate for Manchester United, served up with a flourish by Khalid Boulahrouz. The Dutchman has had a wretched season at Chelsea but even he did not envisage that he would play such a central role in finally sending the trophy north in quite such disastrous circumstances.”

Official Chelsea FC Website, Neil Barnett: “When the whistle went Chelsea players were drained and for a moment alone. But Mourinho charged to the Chelsea fans and demanded a major ovation for his team. It was given. Pride remains.”

The goals

43′ Silva (pen.) 1-0
70′ Essien 1-1

The good

  1. Michael Essien. What is there left to say about him that hasn’t already been said numerous times this season – after almost every game in fact. Once again he had to switch to playing in defence after the bungling and blundering Khalid Boulahrouz got sent off, and he was quite simply awesome.
  2. Our exceptional, spirited fightback and performance with ten men. It epitomised everything that’s great about Chelsea under Jose Mourinho. We made an albeit injury-hit Arsenal side look pretty ordinary without Ashley Cole, Ricardo Carvalho, Michael Ballack, Arjen Robben, Andriy Shevchenko and Didier Drogba in the squad, and Boulahrouz on the pitch. It has come to something when the Gunners celebrate scraping a 1-1 draw against ten men as some kind of major achievement. How the mighty have fallen. Soon we’ll struggle to distinguish between the two north London teams – and I don’t mean the colour of their kits.
  3. Frank Lampard. Played a club record 60th game of the season. A few of us will no doubt wish he had played less this campaign and thus kept up a level of consistency that’s been missing on occasions. Great achievement, though.
  4. Scott Sinclair’s debut. Hopefully we’ll see a lot more of him next season.
  5. Jose Mourinho remains unbeaten in seven games against Arsene Wenger.

The bad

  1. Khalid Boulahrouz. Mourinho’s lack of faith in the Dutch international – many fans questioned why he didn’t pick him against Liverpool – was clearly justified. Yes Boulahrouz was just back from injury but all season he has never looked comfortable or consistent enough to play alongside the likes of Terry or Carvalho, two of the world’s best. I’d imagine that Boulahrouz will be first out the door marked ‘Not good enough’ come the end of the season.
  2. Our lack of penetration without Didier Drogba. I don’t believe things would have been much better had Shevchenko been fit, although the Ukranian deserves at least one more season to prove he can cut it in the Premiership. It’s clear that we need to buy a quality striker or two this summer to play alongside Drogba – or buy one and give Ben Sahar more opportunities.
  3. Salomon Kalou, or more specifically, his decision making and final ball. Once he nails this aspect of his game – and Mourinho will make sure he does – he’ll be a decent player.
  4. We lost our Premiership title, but the way we fought till the very end should make us all extremely proud.

Man of the Match

Michael Essien by the proverbial country mile.

Final thoughts

What a season. There’s no shame in losing out to Manchester United, who had to perform better than ever before to prevent us winning a third successive Premiership title.

To reach the beginning of May and still be in with a chance of sealing an unprecedented quadruple of League Cup, Premiership, Champions League and FA Cup was a phenomenal achievement given the the size of our squad and the injuries suffered.

Those injuries and fatigue took their toll this last week, but that shouldn’t take the shine off what Mourinho accomplished this season in winning the League Cup and fighting to the bitter end in the League and Champions League.

There’s still the FA Cup final to come. Win that and it’s a good season; lose it and we’ll be entitled to be disappointed.

Just a little.

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