Arsenal v Chelsea: the prelims

By Bulldog Drummond

Mourinho will be defensive, and be happy with a draw.  That’s what everyone seems to be saying, and it is probably true.  It might not be worth the £1000 a ticket that is said to be the going price.

We have been awaiting a Mourinho “voyeur” statement, or the production of a dossier showing how much Wenger thinks about Chelsea (but which of course revealed nothing other than how much Mourinho wants to be like Arsenal, with a lovely stadium, and 13 league titles and eight runner’s up spots (as opposed to four and four for Chelsea as of today).

Or indeed 11 wins and 8 runner’s up slots in the FA Cup (as opposed to seven and four for Chelsea).

To be fair, they’ve also done their European stuff recently and have a better record than us, but the “specialists in failure” t shirts that some Chelsea fans wear seems to reflect more on their overall achievements than ours.

Arsene Wenger by and large lets it slip by these days, saying little more than “1-0: the usual,” on hearing Chelsea’s score.

Mourinho these days talks about his “strategic” way of playing football – which is a new name for the same old.  He blames “Injuries and suspensions,” and so we must look at the Physio Room report on injuries.

Chelsea has Drogba, Remy and Costa injured at the moment, which if my maths holds up is three.  Arsenal have Mertesacker and the Ox which is…


But now add in the fact that Diego Costa is said to have made a quick return from his hamstring injury and actually is ready, and that Didier Drogba is available, suddenly it all changes and they have one injury, to our two.

And he talks about suspensions too: Diego Costa injured, suspended; Matic suspended, injured; Fabregas injured, suspended; Diego injured again…  In football, when you are in trouble, when you are in the sea and have no boat, you need something to survive. A raft. In football, team spirit and team ethics, and strategy, is this.”

It is an alluring picture, and one that Arsenal have themselves adopted over the years to cope with the lack of financial resources during the building and paying for the new stadium, and the resourceless assaults on our players but those from other teams who have ceaselessly gone unpunished.

Surviving against the fate on the one hand, and Type III refereeing throws against teams seems to be the order of the day for Chelsea, on the one hand and Arsenal on the other.

The trouble with Mourinho however is that he can say things that you know he doesn’t believe.  But he does it with the same face as the stuff that he probably does believe.

So when he says of Arsene Wenger, “He’s not my rival. I don’t feel that. He’s a manager of a big club in the same city where I work and live,” you know he doesn’t believe that, because if he did, how can he explain all the “dossier” stuff and the accusations against Mr Wenger of obsessive behaviour and voyeurism.  Which makes me wonder, which bits of what he says does he believe?  Any of it?

So, looking ahead can we find weaknesses in Chelsea?  According to they have two weaknesses: protecting a lead and defending against through ball attacks.  Since Arsenal are the masters of through ball attacks, that could be interesting.

Whoscored summarises the Arsenal game as

  • Attempt through balls often
  • Short passes
  • Possession football
  • Control the game in the opposition’s half
  • Attack through the middle
  • Rotate their first eleven
  • Non-aggressive
  • Opponents play aggressively against them

which is not really quite right.  The rotation of the first XI for example is not that common – yes we did it a bit for the FA Cup against lower league opposition, but the team has been pretty much the same for much of the long winning run.  I do like the last line of the analysis though: “Opponents play aggressively against them,” is a rather charming way of putting it.

The prediction is for a low number of cards, Chelsea will create a lot of scoring chances and Arsenal will score as a result of the through ball.  They are suggesting 1-1 is the most likely outcome.

The man of the match predictions are interesting too.  They have Eden Hazard as the most likely man of the match, which seems logical, but Francis Coquelin as the second most likely.   Those are the only two players who get over 30% of the vote.  Next is Alexis at just under 10%.

So what have we got going for ourselves?

Obviously we are the team in form.  But Chelsea have not lost a game since the Bradford City defeat in the FA Cup.   However of the 14 games they have played, only one of them has been won by more than one goal – a 2-0 defeat of Tottenham in the League Cup on 1 March.  Five of Arsenal’s last 14 games have been won by more than one goal:

Five of these games have been draws, four of those 1-1 draws.

Their April results are

  • 4 April: Chelsea 2 Stoke 1
  • 12 April: QPR 0 Chelsea 1
  • 18 April: Chelsea 1 Man U 0

For Arsenal it has been

  • 4 April: Arsenal 4 Liverpool 1
  • 11 April: Burnley 0 Arsenal 1
  • 18 April: Reading 1 Arsenal 2

The league table shows that overall the attacks are similar – this table put up before today’s games…

Man United
Man City

They have let in two fewer but scored six more.  (It is interesting in passing to notice not only how far Liverpool are behind the top four in points, but also in goal difference – an interesting indicator of just how dominant – or otherwise – a team can be on the pitch.

So, form, confidence, style, and level of workrate, it is all part of the game.  And style could be a key factor since it is the style of Arsenal that has changed this season, not least because we have the amazing duopoly of Coquelin and Cazorla – something I have rarely seen at Arsenal.   Coquelin gets the ball through his brilliant positional sense and ability to know when to go for the ball.  He gives it to Santi, and then the new attack starts.

Faced with this, and knowing that a draw will easily be enough to take Chelsea towards their 5th league title.  A good run, but interesting to note that we got our 5th in 1938.  True we entered the league 12 years earlier than they did, but even so, this seems a bit slow overall.

So crowd the midfield, kill off the game, that’s about it from Chelsea I guess.   We can still have our off days, as at Wembley last weekend, but even then we can still to enough.

Up next, the teams, and more stuff.

More anniversaries

25 April 1939: Archie Leitch died.  He is remembered as the prime architect of Highbury, but should also be remembered for his work on the Manor Ground.  Henry Norris also employed him to work at Fulham while he also worked on Stamford Bridge.

25 April 1953: Preston 2 Arsenal 0, leaving the teams on equal points at the top with one game to go.  Everything thus came down to the final game played on the evening before the cup final, on a mud pile of a Highbury pitch.

31 Replies to “Arsenal v Chelsea: the prelims”

  1. With the Tiny Tots drawing today we now need just 4 points to celebrate St Totteringham’s day, Liverpool remain 8 points behind us (having played 1 more). Citeh will probably complete their victory over Villa and move to within a point of us (having played 2 more games; United are away at Everton tomorrow. So 3 points would get another monkey off our backs, bring the chant of ‘Its happened again..’ closer, and almost secure 3rd place.


  2. I suspect that after the game we’ll be asking how Ivanovic and/or Cahill and/or Ramires didn’t get sent off for that/those tackle/s on Alexis…….

  3. Chelsea with no strikers? Well we should not even think about that, but i suppose that may well be the excuse Mou uses after the game. I think Chel$ are tired, so we have to be sharp and contain them well. We know their counter abilities, so not everyone is to bomb forward, making sure that defense is there, especially at corners.

    That said i am confident that we will win it, even if they had they strikers.
    Just hope the ref is as fair as he can be and makes no game changing clangers.

  4. I think that Wenger’s approach from December 2013 was the right one. We didn’t rush into some silly gung-ho suicidal attacks. We were patient, calm and should have won the game if Dean wasn’t his usual self.

    Now we have Alexis, Coquelin and improved Özil, Giroud, Monreal and Cazorla.

    1:0 victory for us so that Jose Mourinho becomes No.7 – seventh Chelsea manager to lose against Arsene Wenger.

  5. Now the refs did Villa big time – they called offside even if the correct decision was a red card for Hart and a penalty for Villa. At 2:2. In the next attack City scored.

    Mike Dean is the ref.

  6. We still have beaten Chel$ more than they have beaten us.

    Chelsea v Arsenal in all competitions
    Games played 183
    Chelsea wins 59
    Arsenal wins 71
    Draws 53

  7. The worst thing about Mourhino might be how quickly and disproportionately he escalates responses when he feels slighted – especially by Wenger.

    – Wenger suggested that he was afraid of failure by insisting last season that Chelsea weren’t going to win the league despite being one of the front-runners. He responded with the notorious “specialist in failure” quip which was so excessive that some ardent haters of Wenger called him out.

    – Now, Wenger said that it is easier to defend and Mourhino’s response was the 1-3 Monaco loss (conveniently ignoring Arsenal clean sheet win away to the same opposition). This put down would have made more sense if Mourhino, with a more straight forward and easier objective of getting a 0-0 draw against PSG had gone through at the stage where Arsenal got knocked out.

    I don’t know what issues Mourhino has with Wenger but he can be most vile when responding to the great man.

  8. For all his money and trophies, the issues you point out Bootoomee suggests Jose is a very insecure man.
    Strange how so many state Jose is a tactical genius, the reality, he is nothing more than an elite spoiler. RA will soon grow as bored of his football as the rest of us…..again…..

  9. So true Mandy.

    I hear his fanboys always trotting his number of trophies to defend him no matter the topic or accusation. The man has a pathological hatred of Arsene Wenger which I think stems from the fact that Arsene is genuinely beloved by most Arsenal fans and more importantly, his employers. Mourhino has never enjoyed the latter anywhere and only the Chelsea fans (a group of football fans who never enjoyed any sustained success before he joined them in 2004) have affection for him. I do think that the part that hurts him the most is the love and loyalty of the Arsenal board for Wenger.

    How do I know this? Well, Jose Mourhino NEVER misses an opportunity to attack Wenger for not winning trophies for so long and remaining employed. It is also easy to understand why he will resent Wenger for this: he has been chased out of every club he managed despite winning trophies in most of them. You would think that he would have learnt by now that with bad/nasty attitude, people will still loathe you no matter how successful you may be.

  10. Absolutely correct Bootoomee. As we all know, we should treat the UK press with a bit of caution, but did notice this recent article—5582316

    Scroll down and see the bit where Jose invited key press figures to a convivial lunch….the aim……to see why Wenger gets so much praise.
    I have read this same thing in several articles, points to your point of a pathological hatred…..or at least obsession he has for Mr Wenger.
    A win for us tomorrow will haunt him even though the specialist in eye gouging will unfortunately win the league.

  11. Bootoomee, would correct you, not just Chelsea fans that have affection for Jose, our AAA seem to as well!
    The fact is , there is at least a side to Chelsea that is an unpleasant entity. We saw it in Paris recently. As a football fan from the late seventies , Chelsea had some very unpleasant fans, with big links to some racist organisations. A black player, Paul Cannoville was driven out of the club in the eighties, not just by racist fans, but by racist team mates and a lack of,leadership from,the club as well. Anyone who hung around west london at those times will have met the ubiquitous Chelsea Thug.
    Of course a lot of clubs in that era had similar issues with fans and racism, but there was always something about Chelsea.
    Now, Chelsea’s fanbase has diversified, they are world wide, the racist thug element has been diluted, by the likes of fans such as Mike T on here and so many others. But the home grown old school attitudes prevail in some quarters at Chelsea, not least with their skipper.
    And Jose just seems such a perfect fit there.
    Arsene, over to you

  12. There are reasons to dislike Man U & Spuds. But there are reasons to hate Maureen & his support of nasty beings.

    Please God grant us 3 points without injuries. We are deserving of all that is good in the game despite the cheats that try to rob us of our rights.

    I fear the journey to & from Wenger stadium because of the morons that will share public transport.

  13. Share your hope Menace, but the deserving do not always prevail on this planet, but still confident tomorrow, as long as the ref does his job.
    Think ozil especially will be targeted by their thug players.

  14. “avatarJosif
    April 25, 2015 at 7:19 pm
    Now the refs did Villa big time – they called offside even if the correct decision was a red card for Hart and a penalty for Villa. At 2:2. In the next attack City scored.

    Mike Dean is the ref.”

    Dear Josif

    The only” big “wrong decision by Mike Dean in the Villa/City game was not awarding the penalty for blatant Aguero pull down even though Dean seemed to have looked right at it.

    Offside calls are made by linesmen, so I can’t see how one can blame any ref for those.

    Villa lost because they made two bad mistakes on defense , which must have been obvious for everyone who watched the game.

    So, either you didn’t see the game and just watched the high lights, or you have decided to join the wing nut fraction of this fine site, which would be a pity considering most of your comments have been knowledgeable and full of insight.

  15. Bootoomee and Mandy,
    Absolutely true. I completely agree that he takes things too far when he feels Wenger’s comments are an attack. This man is one of the most unpleasant people to ever be involved with football. I don’t think there really are any issues he may have with Wenger, but just that the vile little man, like most of us here, can see that the media here don’t like Wenger and he sees it as an opportunity. He takes full advantage of that by taking cheap shots at Wenger at any given opportunity knowing full well the media will lap it all up and run with it without even bothering to say hang on, is there any substance to what he’s saying. He allows his dark side, which he keeps in check against other managers (except the time he tried to gouge out the Barcelona coach) to completely out against Wenger unchecked, knowing noone will call him out. He will never try this sort of thing against a manager like, say a media darling like Brendan Rodgers, as he knows that’ll turn the media against him. As a result all this nastiness is particularly reserved for poor Arsene. As you rightly point out, he thinks he can say or do what he likes about our manager without being questioned, like the ‘specialist in failure’ or ‘voyeur’ barbs, or when he went to physically block Wenger’s path after the cahill tackle on Sanchez. Think he tried a little bit of this too with Pellegrini but immediately saw that he was venturing into dangerous territory as some in the media were prepared to point out how unsavoury his antics were and he dropped it against the city manager. Against us he knows he has full rein, and I believe he will even personally instruct some nasty elements in his side to carry out vicious attacks against our players.

    Another person who used to do this kind of thing was big Sam during the ferguson years; he’d launch unprovoked attacks against Wenger to please his master and the media would give him the platform to do so. The English media will happily provide a platform to anyone willing to attack Wenger and Arsenal; even low-lifes like Barton know they’ll enjoy the occasional limelight in the media if they attack us. Everyone apart from the blind aaa knows if you’ve anything negative to say about us you get plenty of coverage. Mourinho exploits this, and being the distasteful creature that he is, goes way OTT with it with noone in the media calling him out.

  16. ‘or you have decided to join the wing nut fraction of this fine site…..’

    What a cheap, maureen-whore-like shot.

  17. I think I can figure out right now what Mourinho might have in store against Arsenal. He’s gonna instruct the players to smash Cazarlo up to take control of midfield and tell Hazard to dive around to send off either Bellerin or Monreal. Am I a tactical genius now?

  18. Josif,
    Villa were not done in by Dean. Apart from the penalty incident that Tom mentioned above (that could have easily been a red card as well), Benteke was in an offside position in the build-up to Villa’s first goal.
    It is certainly convenient to use only the evidence that agrees with one’s claim.
    Again, as Tom says, offside decisions are not exactly in the referee’s domain- assistants should take more blame. This ambiguity is used quite as a double edged sword often. I have seen that sometimes with comments on this site- if the offside call is wrong, the referee is to blame and if it is correct, referee only called it because of the assistant. The referee bleeds no matter what!

  19. Wenger’s press conference was quite interesting- and largely ignored by the press vis-a-vis the ‘easy to defend’ remark! Wenger gave Chelsea a lot of credit for being consistent and was generous in his praise for Hazard. And what a dignified response to press’ standard ‘not beating Mourinho in 12 attempts’. The only thing that was fed to Mourinho, predictably, was ‘easy to defend’. That was meant to provoke a reaction and didn’t he oblige!
    Now I don’t think that Mourinho was corrosive in his response- far from it really when you compare it to some of his earlier remarks on Wenger. But the way he went about it just goes to show the difference between these two men. That 3-1 jibe, apart from not making sense, was almost childish. You could almost see a hurt little boy behind that veneer of arrogance.
    Mourinho probably realises that despite all his successes, history will probably view him less favourably because of the style that he employs.

  20. As for the Villa – City match. Dean was his usual selectively blind, deaf self. He ignored any City benefits & the result was deserved.

  21. Al,

    I agree with your points, I only left out the English media because I don’t want to be accused of ‘voyeurism’ against them 😉

    The main reason why Mourhino was not able to do this his usual childish shit in Italy and Spain is their press – they just didn’t buy or tolerate his nonsense. There is something (actually a lot of things) about the English football media that encourages loudmouthery and petulance. They love cliches and mind-numbingly simple mantras that are easily exposed to be illogical upon little reflection. The English press also enjoy silly games of name calling and insults or “mind games” as they so love to brand it.

    You look at all these and you understand why Mourhino is beloved by the English media. To cap it all off, he wins things – which to a nation of perennial losers is something to be glorified, if not worshipped. Mourhino ticks all the boxes that are important to the hacks hence why they treat him like a god. While Arsene Wenger is also a manager with legendary achievements and admiration worldwide, the English media stand out in their loathing and disrespect of the man mostly because he wouldn’t play the clown by regularly dishing out stupid cliches or do the mean girl act of belittling his adversaries with juvenile insults.

  22. Lovers and partners – it would seem funny ,except it remind me of certain posters on here ! Why don’t you take a guess ?

    A guy, a pig, and a dog are the survivors of a terrible shipwreck, and they find themselves stranded on a desert island.
    After being there a while, they get into a ritual of going to the beach every evening to watch the sun go down.
    One particular evening the sky was red with beautiful clouds, the breeze was warm and gentle. A perfect night for romance!

    Well, soon that pig started looking better and better to the guy, so he leaned toward the pig and put his arm around it.
    The dog became jealous and growled fiercely at the guy, until he removed his arm from the pig.

    They continued to enjoy the sunsets together, but no more cuddling. A few weeks passed by, and lo and behold, there was another shipwreck.

    The only survivor was a beautiful young woman. She was in a pretty bad way when they rescued her and they slowly nursed her back to health.
    When she was well enough they introduced her to their evening beach ritual.

    It was another beautiful evening, red sky, beautiful clouds, a warm gentle breeze; a perfect night of romance.

    The guy started getting ‘those’ ideas again, so he leaned toward the girl and whispered in her ear, “Would you mind taking the dog for a walk?”

  23. Hope I got this right !

    The three survivors of the shipwreck were being driven mad by hunger.
    The Indian, an expert navigator, told the others that if they could row the lifeboat for three more days they could make landfall.
    The Pole, the ship’s doctor, said that they could not possibly last that long, that there was only one solution to the problem and that one of them would have to sacrifice themselves for the good of the others.
    The Malaysian , the captain, said that he quite understood and that he would volunteer as he should have gone down with the ship anyway.
    After saying an emotional farewell to his crewmen, the captain jumped overboard and sank without trace.

  24. Who you allow into your Life, Mind and Heart are among the most important decisions you will ever make.
    Bryant McGill

  25. Bootoomee
    Spot on! They never warmed to the little cretin in Spain despite the fact the media there is pro-madrid. You summed it up perfectly, they glorify him here for all the wrong reasons.

  26. “Andy Mack April 25, 2015 at 6:23 pm
    I suspect that after the game we’ll be asking how Ivanovic and/or Cahill and/or Ramires didn’t get sent off for that/those tackle/s on Alexis…….”

    I was nearly right. How the **** did Ivanovic get away without getting 2 yellows and why the **** didn’t Ramires get a yellow??????????????

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