Chelsea navigated the last obstacle in between themselves and a 5th Premier League title, by comfortably holding Arsenal at bay on their home turf.
If one thought that Arsene Wenger was going to throw caution to the wind in attempting to gain his first victory over Jose Mourinho, you were in for a disappointment. The fact that Man.Utd were spanked earlier in the day by a rejuvenated Everton figured more in the Arsenal managers ambitions than finally putting old hoodoos to rest. A point against The Champions elect would leave them in a far stronger position for 2nd place …. This was now his focus. Even when he bought on Welbeck and Walcott for the dying embers, his side made sure they didnt push deep enough into Chelsea territory to leave them too open to the sting in the tail – the hallmark of this years Champions.
Ironically it was Jose Mourinho who decided to give it a go. As soon as the team sheet was announced, it was obvious to many Chelsea Fans that our manager was trying out a new centre forward. The TV pundits were convinced that Fabregas was going to play at the top of the formation , as he had done for Spain & Barca..(did they all forget that he was crap there and therefore lost his place in both these sides!). It was Oscar, who has an eye for goal that was chosen. I also think it was a timely reminder for him that he is much needed and much loved. I truly hope the club does not decide to trade him at such an early age in his career…he is one of my favourites.
Jose wanted to win the game , which he openly stated in the pre-match presser. Every Arsenal Fan was readying themselves for the Blues to park the bus under our Portuguese’s direction. How wrong they were, at least until he was forced into that strategy. The first half was a very open game, a classic derby in fact. End to end football with more than a sprinkling of adrenalin from both sides.
The spoiler who changed the game was not Jose, it was Arsenal’s Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina. By getting away with a dead cert penalty in the 15th minute, he knocked poor old Oscar out , this eventually forced the Brazilian’s withdrawal at half-time. Thankfully the doctors realized upon review how perilous Oscar’s position might be after the incident and promptly sent him to hospital for tests.
Referee Michael Oliver incorrectly failed to give that penalty and one other in the first half, when Cesc was instead booked for simulation. The game would have been more open again if the away side had made either of those count. Instead, at half time, Mourinho, having no alternative, was forced back into his shell by bringing on our 37 year old and not 100% fit , “Ivorian war-horse” Dider Drogba. Of course he is in my top 3 Chelsea players of all time , but he can’t compete fully at this level anymore.
And so the game changed, the second half was exactly what some expected from the off. Chelsea showing Arsenal and all others watching that they are the best side by far when it comes to containing the opposition and dictating the play.
Arsenal had no answers. Their so-called flair players failed to create anything that got them close enough to see the whites of Courtois’s eyes. The Emirates faithful started to chant “Boring, Boring Chelsea” as the Blues snuffed out any remote hopes that the Gunners would make a race of the remaining Premier league season.
John Terry should be singled out at this point. He continues to defy the aging process and has probably had one his best ever campaigns. Being selected in the Premier League team of the season was the least he deserved….. I actually think he should be giving Eden Hazard a run for Player of the season.
Cesc had a pleasant return to his old stomping ground, even if the referee did him no favours by not giving him a penalty and then rubbing salt in the wound by wrongly booking him for diving. This gave the partisan crowd more reason to boo his every touch. Hopefully the Police caught the home Fan Idiot who used the minute’s silence for “The fallen” from the Bradford City disaster to shout obscenities at our number 4.
Mind you when Fabregas was substituted on 90 minutes, he certainly got loud applause from many of the capacity crowd who wore red. He swapped shirts afterwards with Ozil as a memento, or maybe it was at the German’s suggestion, because the Arsenal player wants to have the shirt of a champion before he leaves England!
Anyway, the “hell for leather” start to the game in the first half was followed by a second 45 minutes for the purists, as Chelsea showed how adaptable a side they really are. Another irony was, as the Arsenal Fans were taking their frustrations out on the away side, George Graham , former Arsenal manager and previous “King of the one -nil”, was spotted by the camera’s reveling in the Champions elect display of defensive nous.
So the season is nearly over and no one would dare bet against Chelsea claiming the crown on home turf against either Crystal Palace next Sunday, or the following weekend against Liverpool.