Chelsea continued to set the pace in this season’s Premiership race by dispatching Arsenal in a very physical London Derby.
The kick-off was put back by 15 minutes as Gooner Fans did their best to delay the inevitable. Ironically the last time Arsenal won at Stamford Bridge, “Red Flares” could also be seen along the King’s Road!
The game was also a throw back to a past era. It was certainly one of the more physical battles in recent memory, and credit to Arsenal, unlike recent visits to West London, they gave as good as they got. The tackles were strong but fair, and the sportsmanship shown by both sets of players was a refreshing change to the usual playacting and rolling around in pain that we have become accustomed to.
Flamini, Costa, Ivanovich, Koscielny, Terry and Matic are amongst some of the strongest players in the League, so no surprise they were up for it today. Although the difference in the two sides came via physical performances from less likely sources.
Oscar, had an incredible game, and was certainly my man of the match. The crowd seemed to agree, when they gave him a standing ovation as he was substituted with 5 minutes left. He was everywhere. His work rate was unmatched on both sides. Today we really saw why last season, Mourinho declared Oscar victorious over Mata is his choice for the “Number 10” role.
Another surprise bruiser was Cesc Fabregas. It’s the first time I have witnessed this side of his game. Playing slightly deeper as Jose went with Hazard, Oscar and Schurrle as the attacking prongs, Cesc was not only provider but also really got stuck into Arsenal’s midfield. In fact I’m sure most Gunners fans would admit that the likes of Wilshere, Ozil and Rosicky are one-dimensional in this regard & just don’t match up to Cesc. Admittedly this is where Ramsey was missing today.
The only unprofessional moment of this highly charged afternoon, came when the Managers could not temper their emotions. It was handbags at dawn, as Wenger encroached into Mourinho’s part of the technical area following a hard challenge on one of his players.
Arsene completely lost his cool and started shoving Jose in the chest. Mourinho responded by pumping said chest out in some form of peacock pre-mating routine, and demanded action. They don’t pay the 4th official enough danger money for him to break up lunatics, so he waited until Martin Atkinson arrived. The referee warned them to stop or he would spank both of them. I’m sure it’s not the last we will hear of the matter, Wenger will probably be fined, but the truth is that they both did a disservice to the spirit of how the game was being played. And as for the non- handshakes at the end of a game like this, Managers need to realize they must set an example. Once the game is over, bury the hatchet please.
Chelsea lost keeper, Courtios to a nasty collision with Alexi Sanchez early in the game. In fact another indication of how the players respected each other today was seen at that point too. It could easily have turned into a “Ref-fest” especially considering Chelsea’s history with Cech’s horrendous injury a few years ago. But it didn’t. Ironically it was the first time we have seen Petr Cech this season in Premiership action, as he replaced the Belgian. Cech had a very solid game considering his lack of match day practise, never an easy way to come into game, especially one as big as this.
Hazard was the catalyst in breaking the deadlock. Up until the 27th minute the teams had been about equal with the middle of the park seeing most the action. The Belgian went on a mazey run from outside the box, gliding past 3 or 4 Arsenal players as he went through the gears. A perpendicular jink proved to much for Koscienly, he stuck out a leg and gave Referee Atkinson an easy decision to make in giving the penalty. He was slightly lenient on the Frenchman in not giving him a red card to boot, but that was better for the game. I guess you could argue that Hazard had prodded the ball a little to far to the left of him, while “waiting” for Koscielny’s leg to call it a “Clear goalscoring opportunity”……. Anyway Eden Hazard dispatched the spot kick past Szczesny with ease for the opening goal. I think that having seen Chelsea’s goalkeeping options today, Arsene Wenger may be well advised to upgrade the Gunners shotstoppers asap.
Arsenal responded well to going behind. Wilshere, Carzorla, Ozil and Welbeck looked more than capable of conjuring up an equalizer. But The Blues have Cahill , Terry , Ivanovich and Azpilicueta forming an ever-present back 4. Again today they proved too strong for anything the opposition threw at them. They are definitely the best defence in the Premiership this season, if not last and hopefully , now we have a forward line, will provide the solid base to win the title this year.
Diego Costa continues to dominate the headlines. Forget any pulled hamstrings, this Spaniard is all about pulled heartstrings, as the Chelsea faithful fall head over heels in love with him!….. Most of today’s game he was chasing ghosts, as he tried to close down the space between Arsenal back 4 and their keeper. He puts in a real shift. He waited patiently for his chance. It came in the form of a sucker punch at a time when the Gunners looked like they were making headway up the other end. Cesc Fabregas played him through in the 78th minute, with an inch perfect ball over the top of the Arsenal back line. He was never going to lose the race to beat the keeper to the ball, and lobbed Szczesny for good measure. Game over. He has now scored 9 goals so far in his short EPL career, not quite record-setting pace, but I’m sure he is not the only one to have no idea who Mickey Quinn is.
Still way to early in the season to be thinking about victory parades, but I’m guessing that Arsene Wenger’s frustration was compounded by him thinking this Chelsea team is the best since his own “Invincibles ” graced a football pitch.