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By Tony Attwood
Here’s the league table: where else should we start?
Chelsea v Arsenal, Sunday at noon. Two teams evenly matched is what we said, but watching this on TV it didn’t look like it at all. Yes it was only one goal between the two sides, but really the whole style and approach of the teams was utterly different.
In fact watching on the TV at my local pub the sides looked worlds apart with Arsenal looking smooth, creative, inventive and in control and Chelsea increasingly desperate as time wore on. And to add to the fun Aubameyang looked, well, not to put too fine a point on it, utterly pointless and useless. He touched the ball eight times in his 64 minutes on the pitch, which is, of course, once every eight minutes. I don’t know what his salary is, but if Chelsea would like to pay me even half of it to touch the ball eight times in 45 minutes, I’d be happy to oblige.
Being a season ticket holder at Arsenal, but living in the Midlands, I feel I do enough travelling to home games without adding to that for the away matches. But equally the BT Sprout subscription rate just to watch a handful of games each year seems a bit over the top.
So it was off to the pub, and on TV in the pub Arsenal looked to be totally dominant and Chelsea increasingly desperate. We had 57% of the possession, 14 goal attempts to their five, and as we predicted they outfouled us 18 to 13. Indeed I hadn’t fully realised just what a nasty team Chelsea has become this season. But on the more positive side, we have learned how to take total control of a game, despite the fouls.
And the fact was, on TV, in the pub, this looked brilliant from an Arsenal point of view. So much better than the Zurich match which I was at just a few days before. And Chelsea looked lost, unable to sort out how to get their way into the game. We were in fact utterly dominant.
So this is now our best-ever start to a Premier League season, and I am sure we’ll have time in the coming days and weeks to contemplate this further, but just consider this – this season compared with the unbeaten season
In Europe, the break for the ludicrous World Cup held in the utterly disgraceful and appalling Qatar, leads to the nomination of “winter champions,” – the team at the top of the league before everything packs up so that Fifa can try to convince us that our views of humanity and decent behaviour should be set aside in favour of… well, I am not sure what. Money making, fanaticism and a total disbelief in human rights, I suppose.
That doesn’t work for me, but what is interesting is that we do have a fairly fixed team, just as we have had in other past seasons of success. And we have clear and set tactics, which had Chelsea chasing around in circles and resorting inevitably into fouling, fouling, and then a bit more fouling.
Plus what was interesting was that Chelsea didn’t manage to do anything in the second half to rectify their obvious failings in the first half. Indeed it was hard to understand why we were not more than one up, but this is not a season of ruing chances that were not taken advantage of. Because what we have here is not just talent but belief. And not just a manager who knows what’s what, but a manager who has a system that the players believe in and which works.
It was a good game. And thanks to the local pub, I could watch the match for the price of a glass of wine.
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