By Walter Broeckx
In trying to ignore the Atkinson antics people said it didn’t matter because we were played off the pitch. Now I must say that I had the impression that it was a more balanced match. But hey, what do I know I could be wrong.
I thought it started as a more or less open match with both teams taking turn in trying to attack the other team till the opening goal. That changed the match completely. That this goal should have been disallowed and that a red card should have been given (yes in some countries they said this) shows how important that wrong non-decision was.
From then on we first had a period in which Chelsea was on top. Arsenal had to find a new balance and with Gabriel being attacking less strong than Bellerin we struggled for a while. But the longer the first half carried on the more we adapted. But then we had to face the blue wall. A wall with 2 expert defensive midfielders and some expert counter attack strikers.
But let us look at the stats of Arsenal being played off the field. And I used the stats of livescore.com:
Numbers given Chelsea/Arsenal
Shots on target : 6/5
Shots off target : 5/3
Total shots: 11/8
So Chelsea had more shots than us. Not rare to see this from the home team and certainly not when that team is the league leader with a big points gap with the rest.
But Arsenal had more possession and had more corners than Chelsea had at their home ground. So this clearly indicates that what I thought to have seen was correct. We attacked as much as they did. We attacked even more. I do agree that they were being better in scoring goals (legal and illegal ones) than us.
Now of course statistics can be wrong and they could as the BBC numbers that I checked are slightly different. They have Chelsea with 41% possession and Arsenal with 59%.
But there again it showed that we had most of the ball but couldn’t break down the blue wall. A blue wall that can counter you to dead and Hazard did this.
Now of course a counter attack is always looking dangerous and so it gives the impression that they were more dangerous than us. In fact it is a fact that a counter attack is more dangerous than trying to penetrate a 11 man blue wall. Of course it is their right to pull everybody back around their penalty area and then counter attack. They were given the lead by the ref and as Conte himself said the laws of the game are different in England than in the rest of the world. Something that is not allowed but somehow the PGMO gets away with it.
What seems pretty sure to me is that with losing Bellerin we not only got behind but we lost our attacking force for a big deal. Bellerin is the defender in the PL who makes most touches in the oppositions penalty area. And if you want to break down Chelsea you need a defender like him that can help the attack and force openings.
So the opening goal was not just a mental blow but also a blow for the tactics we wanted to use. Gabriel is a good backup but I think only Debuchy can offer an attacking threat on our right flank. And then Debuchy is only half of the attacking force that Bellerin is. Us not being dangerous enough is a fair point but losing Bellerin helped to that in a bad way.
In fact the Chelsea match was a bit of a blue print from what has been happening since…money poured in at Stamford Bridge. The last time we saw a match over there that didn’t have any refereeing controverse in it was when we won 3-5. I can be proven wrong but in that match there were no strange decisions to be seen.
But over the last seasons… it has ever been like that. Özil getting kicked off the pitch 3 seasons ago and getting a knee injury that kept him out for weeks. Atkinson two seasons ago with allowing Cahill to kick the shit out of Alexis in a tackle if done by Xhaka the refs would be lining up to give red cards for. Last season we had the Dean farce with sending off Gabriel while Costa stayed on the pitch. A decision overturned by the FA later on but we still lost the match playing with 10 and later on with 9. When Dean performed his anti-Arsenal tricks the score was still 0-0. If he had done the right thing (send off Costa) the match could have gone in a completely different direction. But even then some of our fans found that Wenger was to blame for the Dean antics….
And this time once again Chelsea getting the early referee calls and being able to score a goal that would have been chalked off in any other country but England (Conte’s words) and losing the best attacking right back in the league at the same time.
In a way I agree with the board that someone lifted near the end of the match : Enough is enough. Yes I have had enough of tilted matches. I have enough of rubbish refereeing with an interpretation of the laws of the game that is against all that I have and am being told. And as long that this is happening and keeps happening I cannot and will not blame the manager. Not one of the Chelsea wins in the last 3 seasons (and two of them under Atkinson and one under Dean – enough said) wasn’t free of referee controversy. And by a big coincidence all the controversy went against Arsenal…. coincidence you say…. It looks more like a pattern to me…. But no sign of evening out.
PS: with Tony standing upside down a bit regular publishing is somewhat different from usual.