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Scolari faces up to home truths

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Phil McNulty | 19:43 GMT, Sunday, 30 November 2008

Chelsea winning at home has ranked alongside death and taxes in the list of life's certainties in recent seasons - but Arsenal's victory showed how times have changed at Stamford Bridge.

It used to be almost impossible for any team to lay a glove on Chelsea on home turf in the Premier League in an unbeaten run stretching back over four years until Liverpool's victory in October.

But Luiz Felipe Scolari's agitated performance during and after this game was a reflection on how Chelsea had been floored by two classic sucker punches from Robin van Persie.

Indeed, the body language of Scolari and his Arsenal counterpart Arsene Wenger told much of the story of a game that looked to be moving towards a routine Chelsea win until the Gunners hit back to suggest it may yet be too soon to pen their title obituaries.

Scolari was a picture of animation in the post-match inquest as he demanded an apology from the match officials after they missed a clear offside in the build up to Van Persie's crucial equaliser.

It is almost impossible to dislike Scolari, and while he was clearly boiling inside, it was also hard not to sympathise with the frustration he felt.

But when his blood pressure drops and his understandable sense of injustice subsides, he will know Chelsea's current problems run deeper than a linesman's failure to raise his flag.

It was a defining moment, but more worrying for Scolari was Chelsea's lack of response and ideas once they went behind. As against Liverpool, the visitors looked more likely to add another goal than Chelsea did to get an equaliser.

Chelsea have a meagre return of one point from three home games against their main title rivals this season, and the armour of invincibilty they used to carry at Stamford Bridge has been stripped away.

If you require any further evidence, three wins in eight league games at home provides it, although it is hardly crisis time.

Chelsea still top the Premier League, at least until Liverpool play West Ham on Monday, and the jeers at the final whistle were the reaction of a minority of supporters who desperately need a reality check.

Deco was another who felt the force of the terrace taunts, with ironic cheers greeting his second-half substitution.

The Portugal midfield man has faded since the sunny days of August. He was slack in possession, off the pace and lightweight in the physical challenges.

Chelsea cried out for Joe Cole's optimism and invention, the record showing that they are currently lacking the spark to break down stubborn teams on their own turf.

And, like him or loathe him, the suspended Didier Drogba gives them a powerful weapon and he was also badly missed in the closing stages as Arsenal mopped up a series of predictable attacks.

Chelsea are hardly in meltdown. They remain title favourites and the bookies will not be changing those odds just yet.

But as doubts appear at Chelsea where previously there were none, it will give encouragement to Liverpool and Manchester United that they can take advantage of this sudden fallibility.

vanpers438.jpg

As for Arsenal, it would appear they are intent on ignoring the form book as they beat the big names and lose to the lesser lights.

Wenger was as animated as I have ever seen him in the first half at Stamford Bridge. It was a close-up view of a manager who knew he could not countenance defeat.

He berated the fourth official and on one occasion just turned away with a gritted-teeth grimace when a pass failed to find its target. Like Arsenal's title challenge, Wenger was right on the edge.

I asked the Arsenal manager how important the victory was in the context of their season, and he made no attempt to hide its importance.

"A massive win. We knew we had just lost two league games and to lose again would have put us 13 points adrift and that would have been too much. We showed we have great character here.

"I am very, very happy. We have beaten Manchester United and Chelsea. It proves I have an intelligent and talented team."

The follow-up question was obvious. Does this not make defeats against teams like Hull, Stoke and Fulham more frustrating?

"That's true, but we have also shown we have the needed level to be there and it is now down to our desire to win in the coming months."

No-one could question the desire at Stamford Bridge, although the performance of Emmanuel Adebayor was a sharp contrast to the industry and threat of Van Persie.

Adebayor livened up once Arsenal levelled, but he was a source of obvious frustration for the visiting fans until that moment. Wenger needs him to be in the groove from the first whistle, not sparking to life once the going is good.

Wenger has been given the nickname of The Professor and he will be using all his cerebral qualities to ensure Arsenal do not slip mentally in what they perceive to be lesser challenges.

For Scolari, the trick is to re-create that old invincibility and give Stamford Bridge that fortress feel it has lacked against Liverpool and Arsenal.

Comments

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  • 1. At 9:44pm on 30 Nov 2008, mduchezeau wrote:

    Fair play to Scolari, someone has the humility to speak his mind in a manner that does not seem too derogatory. However, it frustrates me that the press seem to be stating Arsenal's victory as being 'mind-blowing' and their performance 'stunning'. They clearly got the luck that every Tom, Dick and Harry is getting against Chelsea at the moment and the press have been one sided in reporting it.

    Great blog though, some interesting points about both sides. The premier league is certainly making things interesting this year.

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  • 2. At 9:45pm on 30 Nov 2008, Freddie71 wrote:

    Scolari can scream all he wants - its poetic justice....we have had some disgraceful decisions go against us playing Chelsea previously.

    So what goes around comes around!

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  • 3. At 9:50pm on 30 Nov 2008, SerieA wrote:

    What he hell is this now it seems like the press are trying to say chelsea's title hopes are already gone, BLAH CITY4LIFE

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  • 4. At 9:56pm on 30 Nov 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    One thing I have not done, and will not do, is say Chelsea's title chances have gone after this defeat.

    They are top of the league, but are having the unfamiliar problem of strugging to win at home.

    And, to be fair to Scolari, he was not screaming and actually told us in the post-match conference that he does not normally comment on referees.

    He felt, with justification, that Van Persie's goal was a defining moment and believed he had to say something.

    My concern about Chelsea was that their response to Arsenal taking the lead was a bit limp and predictable.

    But title chances over? Never.

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  • 5. At 10:01pm on 30 Nov 2008, I belong to Nasri - But My name is Duke Heather Trott wrote:

    Dispite our win today i think the title is too much for us this year, though this win does show that we can beat any team on our day, which leads me to think that we have a chance in a cup competitionthis year.

    Having said that if we can win our next few gmaes then we might just have a small chance.

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  • 6. At 10:10pm on 30 Nov 2008, Enlightened wrote:

    This is the first time in a long time that the premiership title is not being contested by two teams only. Any of the top 4 look like they can win the title at this point. Many say Liverpool will deteriorate and others say Arsenal will continue throwing away points against weak opposition. But also remember that Man Utd dont look as sharp as last season and Chelsea have lost games at their fortress.

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  • 7. At 10:21pm on 30 Nov 2008, Allan Petkovski wrote:

    Nice blog Phil. Wow - what a game. Arsenal looked lightweight in the first half and for mine, Chelsea would have been able to go into the break out of reach if they were decisive enough in the final third.

    I feel Arsenal were rattled by Chelsea physically for long periods, but managed to hold on and got an extremely lucky break in the first half.

    If I were a Chelsea fan, my concerns would be not that of the ref's decision, but for the failure of a team to beat Arsenal with players like Song, Denilson and Djorou.

    Arsenal may come back to life from this, with some more consistency and more fight against the more physical lower sides, but as for Chelsea, and Big Phil, they should worry more about a midfield consisting of Deco, Ballack and (the usually untouchable) Lampard's inability to force a single save from Almunia in the second half.

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  • 8. At 10:27pm on 30 Nov 2008, AvikXT wrote:

    i am a chelsea fan and i am totally frustrated by the teams performance.They hardly have any cutting edge and depend largely on ashley cole and boswinga to provide the attacking flavor, which i find ridiculous.
    What about frank lampard!!!!!I used to see him taking long distant shots and scoring goals.But now i hardly see him taking any sort of long distant shots.Whenever ballack or frank gets the ball they pass it on to the fullbacks, extrmely predictable and blunt.Nowi realize why scolari was crying to get robinho and mr abramovich decided not to pay the extra 4M.The result is in front of us.It is a shame that despite having all these so called world beaters we still depend on Didier Drogba to win us the big matches and feel helpless if he is absent.

    I know mr abraovich has decided not to spend any money(probably saving to buy another mansion) but if we do not get atleast two top class attacing players in the jan tran window, my heart goes out to say this "we will definately not win any trophies this season".
    i can bet on it.Mr. abramovich ru listening???????

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  • 9. At 10:49pm on 30 Nov 2008, ToastedHeretic wrote:

    Have to agree. Adebayor was the weak link today. Man, like Ruud Gullit, I prefered the guy with the dreads.
    Clearly, like Samson, something's gone wrong. Just as well Wenger saw it

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  • 10. At 11:11pm on 30 Nov 2008, kinghenrythe14th wrote:

    Nice win today. This result has been coming for 2 seasons now. Each time we manage to throw away the advantage but this time the lads kept their heads, stuck to their guns (no pun intended) and got the result. That said I don't think big Phil is the cause of all these poor results. The loss of their big game players like Essien, Drogba, Carvalho and Joe Cole is to me the major reason for their struggles. I find it amazing that a team who prior to the start of the season boasted 3 players per position could be struggling to hold their own against a half fit Arsenal. Where then is the strength in depth? If 18 year olds now find space on the chelsea bench in such big games then you have to wonder.

    PS: What is Malouda still doing at chelsea?

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  • 11. At 11:23pm on 30 Nov 2008, 10GB10 wrote:

    One sentence, maximum two per paragraph. I love how the BBC Sport blogs are so sophisticated. Not all football supporters are are as intellectually challenged as some football players.

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  • 12. At 11:31pm on 30 Nov 2008, Peter Gasston wrote:

    As an Arsenal fan, I'll confess to great surprise that Van Persie's first goal was allowed to stand. However, what Chelsea fans should really be worried about is their team mustering only two shots on goal over the whole 90 minutes.

    During the last 15 of the game I was looking at my friends in bewilderment as the expected onslaught on the Arsenal goal never materialised; instead Chelsea were second in the tackle, misplaced passes, and failed to create anything of note.

    I don't like Chelsea, but I (begrudgingly) admire their indomitable spirit; that spirit was strangely absent today.

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  • 13. At 11:46pm on 30 Nov 2008, The Trawler wrote:

    John Terry not sent off for two footed jump tackle as Chelsea lose at home

    maybe you could run this headline under your Ronaldo one?

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  • 14. At 11:54pm on 30 Nov 2008, tgbutd wrote:

    Man Utd fan in peace

    Lovely game of football. Apology, Big phil is really taking his frustrations way over board.Yes the decision was horrendous but Chelsea's second half performance was just pathetic and deserved nothing less than the outcome. And with the squad Chelsea had compared to Arsenal, there surely is no reason for Abramovich to splash out any money in January. That would be preposterous. As they say "one man's loss is another man's gain". As a Man Utd fan it was surely a good day in the office. Let the EPL thrills continue

    Honestly i falter Scolari's midfield selection. At times i felt it too crowded as some of the guys were surely conflicting on their roles and thus lost their agility in the process. Oh! who am I? Man Utd fan

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  • 15. At 00:05am on 01 Dec 2008, Cameron wrote:

    Good Blog Phil.

    Arsenal got a bit of much needed luck at the Bridge which is a nice change.

    It's about time too because we have had our fair share of bad luck or bad decisions in recent times.

    In the first half it was nearly all over and Arsenal looked a bit rattled for the first 20mins or so. But the we came back into it only to score yet another own goal.

    van Persie's first goal was clearly offside but we've certainly been dudded too so you win some you lose some.

    Chelsea have had the wood on us for a few seasons now and the time was at hand where the luck changes.

    Arsenal had it over Chelsea for a long while a few seasons back until the Wayne Bridge goal in the CL Semi Final 2nd leg handed the dominance to Chelsea for a few seasons.

    So maybe Arsenal just need the rub of the green for a while and they may become the team AW believes they can be.

    I must say that I agree that Adebayor only got interested after we equalised and Nicklas Bendtner must now be pushing him for his place. Mainly for his enthusiasm.

    I thought Denilson was sloppy and was lucky not to be subbed. I think he was the weakest link in our side followed by Adebayor.

    And with Chelsea, Anelka was wayward and selfish and Deco, Ballack, Obi were all a bit off the boil too. Lampard posed the greatest threat from the Chelsea and even he was not as sharp as usual.

    I was so glad that Drogba was suspended because he has tormented Arsenal in recent times and he probably would have punished us again he had been playing.

    Although there was no Senderos for him to bully this time, so all the signs pointed to Arsenal finally getting some joy over their much more expensively assembled neighbours.

    I said a few blogs back that Gallas' outburst and Fabregas being made captain may actually have been a blessing in disguise, well hopefully it is now coming true and this is just the start of a memorable Gunners premiership fightback.

    But they now need to belt Wigan at the Emirates on Saturday and then be able to go to the Riverside and play the same or better against Middlesbrough to show us that they ARE serious about the title.

    Hopefully we now have luck on OUR side.

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  • 16. At 00:13am on 01 Dec 2008, stoverma wrote:

    I am not a big chelsea fan but like Joe Cole and cheer for them in Europe. But their sacking of Grant was absolutely ridiculous....they make it to the last day of the premier league and champions league and he gets canned for not winning anything [since when did anyone start caring about the league cup?]

    It is a competitive world out there and you can't always win. What is he suppose to do, tie John Terry's shoes for him?

    Nothing against Scolari I think he is a good manager but what Chelsea did in sacking Grant was to make impossible expectations on their future coaches. At this rate they will turn into a poor man's Real Madrid (of course not literally but figuratively), who hire managers for the moment; one's that can't worry about the long term health of the club...only whether or not they survive the year.

    It's like handing the key's of your F1 car to Hamilton and saying, 'have a blast out there but your fired the first time you wreck'

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  • 17. At 00:32am on 01 Dec 2008, DominatingGunner wrote:

    At the carling cup finals between both teams Droug's goal was clearly offside. The popular Essien's late equalizer should not have stood because Helb was fouled in a build up to the goal. Arsenal is a team growing up, its a matter of time Arsenal will rule again.

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  • 18. At 01:24am on 01 Dec 2008, gunnerslover2007 wrote:

    Chelsea either need to sell Drogba and embrace a slightly different style of play (and perhaps formation) or keep him and buy a back up that can fill in like for like for him, which Anelka can't do. Fact is without him they have looked toothless against all of the top 4 at home so far this season. Anelka lining up at the spear head of a 451 isn't really workable against top notch opposition.

    Has anyone noticed that despite all the depth their meant to have Chelsea's top notch strike force is made up of Anelka and Drogba as compared to Berbatov, Rooney and Tevez for United, Ade, RVP and Eduardo for Arsenal even Pool have Kuyt as well as Keane to back up Torres. Also what about their wingers? Out of Cole, Malouda and Kalou only Cole would stand a chance of breaking into the first 11 of any of the other top 4 sides. Just a thought but maybe 4 of the best central midfielders and 4 good centre backs does not a balanced side make...

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  • 19. At 01:25am on 01 Dec 2008, 22ndgooner wrote:

    simple fact we did what wedo come on the arsenal.

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  • 20. At 01:50am on 01 Dec 2008, mnightremix wrote:

    "Chelsea still top the Premier League, at least until Liverpool play West Ham on Monday, and the jeers at the final whistle were the reaction of a minority of supporters who desperately need a reality check."

    Sorry Phil, this isn't the case.

    The atmos at the Bridge might be toilet these days, but there's a significant number who sing all game and don't sit down. They've paid their money to stand in the freezing cold and do that. When they're watching a manager who, with his team 2-1, barely moves from his seat, it's infuriating.

    Scolari doesn't have a plan B when the chips are down. He never had one with Portugal, which is why when they were tactically beaten (whether by Germany, France, or Greece) you knew they'd never win. With Chelsea, he doesn't show the motivation to even tell his team where they're getting wrong. He was rightfully jeered; I don't care how likeable he is to opposition fans, the vibe his own fans get it one of nonchalance.

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  • 21. At 01:51am on 01 Dec 2008, a fat bloke down the pub said so wrote:

    Not a great piece of reading, no insights.

    “…Chelsea's current problems run deeper than a linesman's failure to raise his flag.”

    This sounds serious. What are these problems? They don’t seem to be suffering from them away from home; played 7, won 7, scored 19, conceded 1!

    “…current problems’’, over two matches!?

    “The follow-up question was obvious. Does this not make defeats against teams like Hull, Stoke and Fulham more frustrating?”

    Question or statement of the obvious? Judging by Wenger’s response it was a statement.

    "That's true…."

    Other ideas for a follow-up question which might elicit something useful;

    What did you say to your team at half time?

    How was your approach different to this game compared to the matches against Man City and Aston Villa?

    You’ve now beaten 2 of your closest rivals, will your plan be different against Liverpool in three weeks?
    ...etc

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  • 22. At 03:06am on 01 Dec 2008, rl wrote:

    I live in Hong Kong where the match kicked-off at midnight, so I went to bed at half-time feeling confident we would be able to hold our lead. What happened??

    While I accept that our full-back are one of out biggest attacking threats, they really need support of wingers to give more options out wide.
    Our midfield was: Lampard, Ballack, Deco and Mikel- all top class players but i would never dream of playing them all together. Either drop one of Ballack or Deco (Lampard stays), have two wingers and anelka as a lone but supported striker in a 4-3-3 OR play 2 up front in a diamond 4-4-2 WITH 2 out and out wingers.
    Our full-backs attacking play is brilliant but very predicatable now, which is why we need more dimensions to attack from.

    I'm not pretending I should be manager and Scolari is one of the best but surely this is all common sense!

    And while our home form this season has been comparitively very poor, you forget to mention that we have won every away match so far, something I'm fairly confident no-one else can say.

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  • 23. At 03:31am on 01 Dec 2008, Gunner4Lyfe wrote:

    I'm in NYC. Am going to watch the game on tape delay now. Too bad I know the outcome but my mouth is still watering. That's how much this victory means to me. We are no tgoing to win the title this season but at this rate, I don't care. If we can snatch a win at Old Trafford and Anfield, as well as 2 draws with Liverpool at home and even at home with Chelski, then this will be my favorite season since we went defeated in '04.

    I just wish ONCE Arsene could beat that little punk Mourinho in a street fight. Inter vs Arsenal Champion's League final??? What better justice. OOOOhhhhhh.....

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  • 24. At 03:40am on 01 Dec 2008, Sevenseaman wrote:

    It is peurile to talk of title pretensions or change of manager on the conclusion of every match.
    Chelsea chickens are coming to roost. Lack of response after they were a goal down, will surely confound the predicters. The team was completely resourceless and without any credible ideas to deal with the crisis. The goal posts will have to be widened two metres on either side and raised by a similar height for the Chelsea hitmen to get a shot on target.
    One of those days. Chelsea did not make even one goal. Djorou scored one, the linesman and Van Persie the other two, one apiece.
    It is amazing that the official who was catching milimetres off or on for Chelsea was able to condone an yard off in the case of Arsenal. Some interpretation of the offside law, that!

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  • 25. At 06:09am on 01 Dec 2008, The_gunner_maharaja wrote:

    Whatever y'all say, we've got the 3points with some astonishing piece of football.
    What baffles me is that Big Phil as a world class tactician that he is, had identified Chelsea's problem of not being able to kill off games especially from the midfield since after the champions league first leg game against Cluj yet, it seems nothing has been done about it.
    That, my dear friends WILL be chelsea's undoing this season.
    Mark my words!!
    Up GUNNERS!!!
    By the way, lovely blog Big Phil (McNulty)

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  • 26. At 06:55am on 01 Dec 2008, dragontao wrote:

    I said at the start of the season if Chelsea failed to sign a couple of decent attacking players they would win nothing. We let strikers like Pizarro and Shevchenko go, along with Wright-Phillips, but failed to sign even comparable replacements, leaving a real weakness in the squad.

    The ridiculous Robinho saga didn't help and if Chelsea are now saying they aren't spending any money in January, what has happened to the funds available for the Robinho purchase? I'm not a fan of cheque book management but the squad needs strengthening in those areas and If they don't use those funds they can write off this season.

    Anelka is not able to play the lone centre forward role and goes missing in games like this, spending far too much time by the touchline instead of worrying the centre backs as Drogba would have done, this fails to allow the forward runs of Lampard, who is also always stifled by Ballack's presence in the team. Deco was awful but then he had very little to pick out up front and any creativity he possesses is wasted trying to fire passes to Anelka by the touchline or for Kalou to try and beat 7 players and fail to do anything except lose the ball. Kalou and Malouda are a waste of space.

    Extremely frustrating.

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  • 27. At 07:11am on 01 Dec 2008, mittheimp wrote:

    Adebayor has just come back from injury. he played a key part in both goals. Criticism is extremely harsh!

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  • 28. At 08:01am on 01 Dec 2008, back_to_oblivion wrote:

    Arsenal deserved to win this Game, I thought its going to be one of that routine chelsea win at SB. And arsenal players were loosing the ball too easily to chelsea players but its really surprising to see the attitude of chelsea players! they were not in a hurry to kill the game by scoring the second instead they were just passing the ball to bosingwa and cole , i was confused about the formation b'cos Deco seems to be sitting tooo deep then mikel and at one point i thought scolari made him as holding Midfielder instead of mikel!! the passing were verry poor and there were too many missed passes from chelsea players, i think chelsea does not have a quality stiker up front other then drogba , Anelka can score goals only against weak teams and he cannot score goals when his team is down just like adebayor,Both of them would make a perfect pair !! i believe Scolari gave more freedom to his players and thats creating little bit of confusion among the players, Above all chelsea's formation and attacking method has became predictable, they dont have much variety in attack, Lampard is not shooting like before he's tooo keen to pass the ball to some one else!!may be he is sooo determine to prove chelsea is not a boring team any more !!
    Mourinho's tactics may be boring but his team has decipline and fighting spirit and they never stop trying untill the last minute but now they seems to loose the confidence and interest once they concede goals, Chelsea needs to Win games even after playing badly that makes the difference between the real champions and sorry loosers!!
    Hope arsenal players will pick up from this win and start winning more games to finish above chelsea this season.

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  • 29. At 08:33am on 01 Dec 2008, U6271461 wrote:

    Good blog and some good points about Scolari not having a plan B.However still al little early to talk about a crisis. However I have noticed that Chelsea are falling off the pace in the last 10-15 mins.Something that never happened under mourinko or grant with Clarke.Personally I get the impression that the players are not as fit as they were and perhaps the strength of depth of the squad is not what it was.

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  • 30. At 08:40am on 01 Dec 2008, Dan wrote:

    "Chelsea winning at home has ranked alongside death and taxes in the list of life's certainties in recent seasons - but Arsenal's victory showed how times have changed at Stamford Bridge.."

    Sorry, this is yet again extremely lazy journalism by the BBC, based on a commonly held perceived myth rather than reality. Surely the BBC should challenging those myths rather that perpetuating lazy generalisations? Let me try and do it on your behalf:

    There is a huge amount of difference between "winning at home" as being a 'certainty', and remaining unbeaten. It is possible to remain unbeaten at home all season and only gain 19 points. Conversely, it is possible to lose many games and gather more points.

    A quick glance at Wikipedia shows Chelsea's home form the last two seasons:

    2007-2008:

    P 19 W 12 D 7 L 0. = 43 points

    2006-2007:

    P 19 W 13 D 6 L 0. = 45 points

    It is points dropped at home - i.e. home form over the last two seasons that have meant Chelsea have missed out on the Championship.

    Last season Manchester United dropped a grand total of 5 points at home - that's why they won it - even though they lost a game (to Manchester City) they still gathered far more *points* than Chelsea.

    So to conclude:

    1) Chelsea winning at home was far from being a certainty - rather a less than 2/3rds chance if you turned up to a random Chelsea home game over the last two seasons.

    2) It's poor home form that has cost Chelsea the title over the last two seasons even though they've remained unbeaten. An extra point dropped here and there won't as much difference as the wins they've missed out on.

    Now, if I as a mere worker drone (who isn't even a Chelsea fan) can work that out, why can't the BBC?

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  • 31. At 08:47am on 01 Dec 2008, KeenosAFC wrote:

    Last Season: Arsenal 1-0 up at the Bridge, cruising. Drogba scores a goal where he was a yard offside in the build up. Arsenal rocked, Chelsea go on to win 2-1 destorying Arsenal's title chances

    This season: Chelsea 1-0 up at the Bridge, cruising. RVP scores a goal where he was a yard offside in the build up. Chelsea rocked, Arsenal go on to win 2-1 destorying Chelsea's title chances

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  • 32. At 09:06am on 01 Dec 2008, sweetsmellofsuccess wrote:

    Chelski are proving to be flat-track bullies, while Arsenal are proving to be the exact opposite. As a Manu U fan, I hope the whole thing goes to the wire with all four teams involved. Certainly, none of them look like running away with it.

    Chelski's problems lie partly in injuries (especially Essien and Joe Cole), partly in their one-dimensional style. Teams are now able to combat it, and they have neither the personnel nor (it would seem) a manager of sufficient acumen to change things. They have a squad of great depth, but not variety - the replacement is a clone of the man he replaces. Top squads offer managers something different when they turn to the bench - blame Mourinho for recruiting too many similar players.

    Arsenal are, despite some good results, way off the pace for me. Any team that always has to mention how much character they showed, doesn't really have any. Adebayor is a preening fool not fit to lace Henry's boots. Cesc apart, they lack class in central midfield. Until van Persie got a lucky break (great finish, though) they looked unlikely to score against a plodding Chelski team.

    What did this weekend tell us? Man U to win it (just) from Liverpool, with Chelski just behind them. Arsenal fourth, by a few points from Villa.

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  • 33. At 09:06am on 01 Dec 2008, Chaddyroar wrote:

    Keenos

    '....destroying Chelsea's title chances'.

    Are you on horse tranquilisers?

    I dislike Chelsea but by the end of the day they will be at worst second in the league with the best goal difference, with the biggest squad in the Country, a world class manager and more money than midas to spend in the transfer window.

    Their chances are hardly destroyed. You are a little premature methinks.

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  • 34. At 09:11am on 01 Dec 2008, alpeshcgujjar wrote:

    I said once they lose at home they will keep on losing after wards..
    Arsenal deserved the win and it was clear that they would win.
    Hunger was at Arsenal more..
    But Chelsea still remains the fevorite to win the title.
    I wont be surprised if arsenal lose their next game.

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  • 35. At 09:18am on 01 Dec 2008, Derek Fallon wrote:

    Awazing exact reversal of furtune fro last years fixtures but I dont think it will destroy Chelsea's title challenge. The thing is Arsenal are capable of putting in this type of performance-losing limply to a mid table side one week, beating the league leaders away the next. I have a funny feeling it will be a measure of Liverpools challenge as to how they get on at the Emirates in 3 weeks. Arenal seem intent on wrecking everybody elses title challenge while completely blowing their own. As for Chelsea, they will be back thrashing teams starting with Bolton next week. Big chance for Liverpool tonight though. I have a feeling it will be nil all.

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  • 36. At 09:24am on 01 Dec 2008, back_to_oblivion wrote:

    the tactic of scolari is playing big part in these losses. Under scolari's tactics there's more chance to concede a goal after scoring b'cos his full backs are always going forward and they are the main point of attacking play in his formation and that makes his defence more exposed for the opposite counter attack if mikel fails to cover them, in some occasion i have seen the lonely peter cech in the box after his compatriots went for a fun ride to the opposite box to prove thier pay master that they are not a Boring team!!! In an Ideal world of Mourinho it would be a sure 3 points if they score 1 goal in first half. Each players would do thier best to defend that lead and they will be happy with the 1-0 result and take the. 3 point, I have seen Drogba running back to chelsea Box and trying to win back the ball if he loose it ,that was the amount of commitment and determination of chelsea players Under mourinho , i dont think any of the chelsea supporters would play down this fact! But i can hardly see any of current chelsea players showing that spirit and determination under scolari, Chelsea showed same kind of attitude when they drew against bordeux in CL. they never tried to score the second but failed to hold on to the Lead. and they did not knew how to score the second when the opposite started defending in numbers !!

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  • 37. At 09:24am on 01 Dec 2008, Abou's Gammy Lip wrote:

    To be fair to Adebayor, he is coming back from an injury lay-off. Ha dour injury problems been less dramatic, he probably wouldn't have been risked.

    The concern for Arsenal is that without Walcott in the team, there is a real lack of pace in the front 6. Whilst Nasri contained Bosingwa, Cashley knew that Denilson didn't have the pace to get in behind him.

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  • 38. At 09:25am on 01 Dec 2008, ahmed_mtn wrote:

    I honestly belive that arsenal deserves the Win.and i agree its a massive wien just as the coach wenger has said.
    lets not critisize the fact that the first goal was an offside.yes it was, but i think for some years now,chelsea have been robbing arsenal just the same way it happened yesterday(1st goal) but i think the second goal was a clean goal.i think Big phil' should be disappointed in his team despite fielding a killer midfield and yet nothing could come out of them.
    And if u look at the game,arsenal scored the 3goals in the game yesterday and despite the so called big chelsea,they couldnt even score a goal and were relying on the mistake made by the young but talented djourou to actualy seal the win for them.its a shame.

    ARSENAL 4 LIFE

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  • 39. At 09:33am on 01 Dec 2008, Chaddyroar wrote:

    Sweetsmell

    I think you make a good point about the lack of variety in the Chelsea squad. There are a couple of exceptions but in general Mourinho buys players to fit a system, or he certainly did at Chelsea.

    But there are some players everybody would want. I think Carvalho for example is underrated and intelligent enough to play in any team.

    Scolari hasn't had much chance to make an impact transfer wise - Bosingwa and Deco, brought in as much as cultural advocates than as players, but undoubtedly very useful on the pitch.

    But he has the contacts, the money and the time to make further changes in January, now that he knows the strengths and weaknesses of his players and the size of the challenge in this the most unpredictable premier league season for years.

    They peaked in september which is dodgy but they have the class, experience and squad size to stay the course. A lot depends on what happens when Chelsea and Liverpool go to OT and when Chelsea visit Anfield.

    I am no Chelsea fan, but if they get anything at all from those games then I think they have every chance of lifting the title.

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  • 40. At 09:34am on 01 Dec 2008, KeenosAFC wrote:

    Chaddyroar, I know they are not destroyed, just putting the bait out their and see who bites!

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  • 41. At 09:41am on 01 Dec 2008, coolguymanutd wrote:

    Arsenal have just succeed in making the title race more intresting with Man Utd just 5 points behind Chelesa and 2 point above Arsenal with a out-standing match I look forward to an intresting title race this season.

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  • 42. At 09:44am on 01 Dec 2008, SportsFan wrote:

    Are Arsenal in or out of the title race? This is the question on every Gooner's mind atm.

    I think we're in but it will be incredibly hard. 16/1 is about right with the bookies (they rarely get it wrong).

    If we'd lost I would have had us down at 45/1. 7 points compared to 13 is a real difference - anything more than 10 points away is looking hugely, hugely unlikely.

    With a couple of signings who can walk straight into the team at CB and DM I think we'll be there or thereabouts. Without them, and even with the return of Walcott, Eduardo, Toure and Rosicky it will be a battle for 4th place. We need an Adams/Campbell figure and a Vieira figure to win the PL, and for that matter, the CL or the FA Cup.

    With Gallas, who for all his shortcomings is still a great defender, alongside an imposing CB, a midfield of Rosicky/Walcott - Fabregas - ???? - Nasri, and Eduardo competing with RVP and Adebayor for a striking berth, Arsenal are in with a shout.

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  • 43. At 09:44am on 01 Dec 2008, Blue_Baby40 wrote:

    Whatever people think about Avram Grant, at least under him we didn't even lose one game at home, let alone two. Also, we didn't face a realistic prospect of playing in the Channel 5 cup. With the exception of Deco and Boswinga, the team that played yesterday were at Chelsea last season. Scolari = smoke and mirrors. Hope Roman's enjoying his pretty football because it won't win us anything.

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  • 44. At 09:54am on 01 Dec 2008, KeenosAFC wrote:

    If Arsenal areto be genuine title contenders, they need to now put on a run of victories between now and the end of the year. And even that will probably still leave them 3/4 points off top spot.

    They have the players to do it, but do thye have the consistency?

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  • 45. At 10:10am on 01 Dec 2008, SuperCritical wrote:

    How can anyone be written off by the end of November? You notice no one talks the same way at the opposite end of the table, who would say a team is definitely safe from relegation?

    Yet pundits and bloggers seem happy to write off any team who has had a few losses to even have to defend yourself against claims of writing of Chelsea who are top of the table surely says something is wrong.

    Can we please have some consistency? don't write teams off one week and then retract it the next. We all know 1. It's a marathon not a sprint 2. ALL teams suffer sticky patches what matters is how they respond so 10 points adrift in November is meaningless.

    The constant commenting on whether a team has blown its chances after 10 or 15 games is lazy I think you can only really talk about whether a top team has blown its chances of the title from around Easter onwards and use this time now more productively.

    Do you really believe that the consistency of the top teams is such that 10 points really is insurmountable in November?

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  • 46. At 10:22am on 01 Dec 2008, angelthejam wrote:


    Phil,

    I think Arsenal still have the capacity and ability to beat anyone of the top four on their day, however they lack the consistency to win, sometimes ugly when required, against the lesser opposition, i think their battle is to hold the 4th position against Villa and go for a good run in the CL or FA.

    Chelsea is still pretty much there, and with Joe Cole, Carvahlo and Drogba back the team will look completely different. I think Scolari is a very good manager, but in the other hand he has spent the last 8 years managing national teams (Brazil and Portugal), which is very different to manage a football club on daily basis, something he has never done in Europe anyway.

    I have a question for you, Chelsea has been imperious or very poor this season, i have the feeling that they are not very comfortable when they feel dominated and things don't go their way and then they get a bit lost and don't know how to do, it happened yesterday and against Liverpool as well, while with Mourinho they seem to have the resilience to win ugly, not matter what and they showed more determination. What do you think?

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  • 47. At 10:22am on 01 Dec 2008, TomMansell82 wrote:

    So it remains that Chelsea's best win of the season was against Aston Villa.

    If Chelsea continue to fail against the best opposition then they could end up trophy-less this season.

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  • 48. At 10:43am on 01 Dec 2008, rosey05 wrote:

    Good blog again Phil.

    Chelsea, this season hve been something of an enigma. Everyone at the beggining of the season were saying they were going to be unstopable and they play better football under Scolari than Mourinho, which they do! However i feel their downfall has been this change in mentality. Under Mourinho against the big sides, Chelsea would set out not to lose, to fight for every ball and try to win the game on their physical strength as well as their ability. However they have come unstuck twice this season to the big teams and almost lost to United. However away from home against the rest of the league they do look unbeatable because teams at home go for games and Chelsea do have the ability to pick these lesser teams off.

    In addition to this it should be noted they have been unlucky this season, deflected winner for Liverpool, RVP's first goal yesterday, a clear yard offside, not to mention the injuries to key players such as Drogba, Cole, Carvalho and Essien.

    So there is no need for any knee-jerk rections at this point in the table but it will be very interesting viewing to see how Chelsea do away from home against the big teams in the second half of the season. Say what you like but Chelsea WILL be there or there abouts come May.

    As for Arsenal I do not see their inconsistency coming to an end anytime soon. They were far from fantastic yesterday but they took their chances and capitalised on Chelsea when they were down. However Phil hit the nail on the head by saying its all well and good being up for United Liverpool and Chelsea but going and losing to Hull, Fulham and Stoke make the big wins ultimately irrelevant.

    I do hope Arsenal string a run because it would be amazing to see a four horse title race for as long as possible, but until they add a bit of steel and resolve i can't see them cutting out their silly defeats at lesser clubs.

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  • 49. At 10:53am on 01 Dec 2008, Chad Secksington wrote:

    The problem for Chelsea is that against the top teams they desperately miss Carvalho, Carvalho is the bedrock of their success, Terry is not good enough on his own, his injuries have taken away whatever pace he had and leaves his positioning exposed, he's a good defender, but without a genuine top line guy like Carvalho for Chelsea or Ferdinand for England to pull him out of the pooh when he does get caught he can be found wanting.

    It's not usually a problem against the lesser lights of the Premiership but against the big guns of England and Europe they will get caught out from time to time.

    Why Chelsea retained Malouda and Kalou, yet dumped Wright Phillips honestly baffles me.

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  • 50. At 10:53am on 01 Dec 2008, U11846789 wrote:

    It's only a question of time before these "big" clubs start to take the odd beating.

    It's happened already to Arsenal this season.

    And, looking at their home record, played 8 and only won 3, it seems Chelsea are no longer invincible.

    They'll probably still fill the top places, sure, but with less certainty than before.

    The problem? Too few real grafters left in these teams - too many stars.

    That will lead to a steady increase in defeats.

    As it already is starting to do.



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  • 51. At 11:00am on 01 Dec 2008, trueblue13 wrote:

    Scholari's substitutions are not inspiring at all. Chelsea deserved to lose this game based on their second half performance. Should also have gone to half time three nil up but that's what happens when you don't take your chances.

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  • 52. At 11:05am on 01 Dec 2008, aka_bluepeter wrote:

    I think one of the most important and hardest parts of a Manager's job is to encourage the discouraged, motivate the unmotivated, calm the agitated, agitate the becalmed. In other words be constantly fine tuning the mental disposition of their players. especially at the most critical moments of the season.

    At the end of the season I think Scolari will have shown he is much better at controlling himself and getting the best out of his players than Wenger and that will be the difference between these two teams.

    It still looks to me like a season that will end up with a scrap between MU and Chelsea for the title (apologies to Liverpool and Hansen).

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  • 53. At 11:06am on 01 Dec 2008, RedandRight - WIN IT FOR RAMBO wrote:

    Sportsfan

    We're 16 - 1. "The bookies rarely get it wrong..." True, but - Arsenal 2 Man U 1 anyone? Was anyone giving shorter than fives on a home win that day?

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  • 54. At 11:14am on 01 Dec 2008, boils wrote:

    Thanks Phil. Said a lot of nothing.

    Chelsea are also missing Makelele, Carvahlo alongside Drogba and Cole. Obi Mikel often does a terrible job of covering the back four. And that is why the better teams are exposing them defensively.

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  • 55. At 11:17am on 01 Dec 2008, Macdaid wrote:

    Phil, you seem to be letting your personal fondness of Scolari get in the way of the fact that his substitutions after Arsenal's goals worked against Chelsea. i'm a big fan of Scolari, but on Sunday he got it wrong. I accept your point about Drogba, who has caused Arsenal massive problems in recent years, but the lacklustre response of Chelsea was because they started losing control in midfield once the changes were made.

    Chelsea were dominating the match until the goals. Mikel was key to this - he was sitting in front of the back 4 allowing Deco and Ballack, and the full-backs, to push further up the pitch. When Arsenal tried to counter-attack Mikel was there to win the ball back - at times he made it look like men against boys - denilson, Fabregas, and Song couldn't live with him. When Malouda came on for Mikel, Ballack and Deco were forced to come deep for the ball, and Chelsea looked exposed on the counter-attack. Mikel should have stayed on, and Deco - who was not at his best - should have come off for Malouda.

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  • 56. At 11:17am on 01 Dec 2008, filkipo wrote:

    We lack the creativity, pace, and delivery of a top class winger. Kalou has no final ball, Malouda has surely now had long enough to prove that he cannot match up to the pace and physicality of the premiership by now, and without Joe Cole we look desperately short of any kind of creative spark. We were very comfortable in possesion for the first 60, but after the second arsenal goal, any confidence we had just seemed to dissappear. We need to go out in January and sign someone who can provide that - someone like Simao.

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  • 57. At 11:18am on 01 Dec 2008, willatkins1 wrote:

    Personally,as a Chelsea season ticket holder, I think the problem lies in a lack of real strengh in depth. For example, while we have arguably the strongest eleven in England, if not Europe, after a few injuries or suspensions there is a wafer thin squad full of poor players who are just not capable of mounting a title challenge. In yesterday's game we started without first-team shoo-ins Carvalho, Essien, Drogba and Joe Cole. In their place were players who are just not capable. Kalou, who despite all the willing running that he put in, had two glourious 1-on-1's, which he should have scored. Malouda, who ca

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  • 58. At 11:21am on 01 Dec 2008, willatkins1 wrote:

    me on as sub, was totally useless, showing no flair, spark, or imagination to break down a weak Arsenal defence. While Miroslav Stoch was a critical part of the Chelsea Youth side which so nearly won the Youth Cup last season, this was not the time to make his senior debut. Chelsea will need to bring in players in January, and get rid of the deadwood which is holding us back from a sustained challenge on 4 fronts (now only 3 following the Burnely defeat)

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  • 59. At 11:35am on 01 Dec 2008, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 60. At 11:42am on 01 Dec 2008, shane bell wrote:

    Bring back Mourinho and have Scolari and Mourinho managing the team :P nah serious note chelsea need to get 2 wingers and a striker i think we should get David Silva ,David Villa and Ashley Young or have Kaka and play with Drogba being upfront with him or kaka just behind play 4-4-2 i remember a time everyone played it where has this genius tactic gone lol

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  • 61. At 11:43am on 01 Dec 2008, shane bell wrote:

    Get rid of Anelka and Kalou nicky might be our top scorer but he cant score vs top 4 teams in general never rated him and as a chelsea fan i wished abramovic shelled out on robinho :(

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  • 62. At 11:46am on 01 Dec 2008, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    Can you explain why comment 59 broke the house rules please?

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  • 63. At 11:47am on 01 Dec 2008, vawn wrote:

    "Chelsea winning at home has ranked alongside death and taxes in the list of life's certainties in recent seasons - but "

    This is a false statement. Prior to being defeated by Liverpool, Chelsea dropped a considerable amount of points in their draws at Stamford Bridge.
    Not losing is not the same as winning.

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  • 64. At 11:52am on 01 Dec 2008, Dave I wrote:

    Chelsea's problems are very similar to Arsenal's. Two attacking full backs, too many centre backs and a holding midfielder that seems to lack that certain something, dare I say - je ne sais quoi. They also seem to lack "focus and desire", Wengar's favourite quality. I prefer "focus and determination", desire sounds like a 5 yr old with an Argos Book.
    Now that the unbeaten run has ended, it almost looks as though the team are grateful.

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  • 65. At 11:55am on 01 Dec 2008, GunnerMozz wrote:

    Great result for us yesterday. But regarding RVP's first, didn't the ball rebound off a chelski player first, making RVP onside??

    And what about the two footed challenge from John Terry?? Swings and roundabouts, Scolari will pick up that saying soon.

    I just hope now, with Cesc as captain and Bill free from the responsability that obviously weighed him down, we can turn a corner and carry on with a win against Wigan. But, I seriously hope Arsene doesn't feel the currant squad doesn't need additions. One or two experienced players in January could see a title charge. Leaving Denilson in midfield is not the right decision - Yet!

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  • 66. At 12:06pm on 01 Dec 2008, 21shergar wrote:

    Does anyone spot an enduring trend here, going back to since football began? Referees make mistakes. It is as much a part of the game as scoring goals and making passes. All concerned in football should accept it without complaint.

    When will managers realise that such mistakes will always happen and when will FIFA put its money where its mouth is and introduce the sort of zero-tolerance approach and concomitant penalties that exist for any kind of dissent in, say Rugby Union or even more so, field hockey?

    I've had enough of beefing managers and players who eff and blind just because they're confronted with the real world of human error.

    As for the concept that certain teams benefit more than others from refereeing decisions....good grief! It's just ridiculous.

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  • 67. At 12:12pm on 01 Dec 2008, mighty_stevie_g wrote:

    Doesn't all this 'title race' talk get on your nerves. WEEK IN WEEK OUT its 'have they blown there title chances' or 'are they back in the title race'

    it is SO boring, what is the point on commenting on it? it is quite clear that there are NO easy games in the premiership now and (hyperthetically) if arsenal lose one week and win there next 2 or 3 games there is every chance chelsea will drop the points arsenal lost out on if u get me!

    stop going on and on about who is in it, ALL of the top 4 are and so r maybe villa although lets face it thats not very likely.

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  • 68. At 12:13pm on 01 Dec 2008, williewandsworth wrote:

    as a man u fan i was delighted with yesterdays' results but i agree its important to keep a proper sense of perspective, whilst its certainly true that stamford bridge is no longer an impenetrable fortress chelsea have been mightily impressive on their travels, equally whilst their fans bemoan the lack of an out and out goalscorer their goal difference is staggering, arsenal for their part must be an incredibly frustrating team to support, outstanding against man u, up for t yesterday, albeit with a large slice of fortune they're to be found wanting against the lesser lights, i honestly cant see them winning the title this year, simply too fragile and still missing a midfield enforcer. as for liverpool i think we have yet to see where their priorities lie, for the past few seasons their impressive champions league form has been at the expense of a feeble premiership campaign, with their current reliance on the form & fitness of gerrard and torres i think that talk of the league is fanciful if not delusional.

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  • 69. At 12:16pm on 01 Dec 2008, Oneway86 wrote:

    Slightly annoyed with the shocking decisions that occurred this weekend.
    And in the game at Stamford Bridge just summed it up.
    How did Terry not go for a two footed lunge?
    How did the linesman not see that Van Persie was not onside when he was level with them?
    People complain how the officials get a hard time, but this is why they get a hard time because they cannot make simple decisions. Terry should have been sent off, and Van Persie's goal should have been ruled out.
    As for Chelsea in general, they seem to be struggling in the big games. Scolari needs to address it if he's going to be a good manager for them and win them trophies.

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  • 70. At 12:20pm on 01 Dec 2008, SportsFan wrote:

    RedandRight

    True, and we were 5/1 to win against Chelsea on betfair (with whom I have an account).

    What I mean is their odds are normally a very good indication of the "lie of the land". However, saying that, with Arsenal there seems to be some bias against us with the bookies - much like how they over-favour England by giving them c5/1 to win World Cups.

    A win against Wigan and we'll drop to 12 or possibly 10/1 (if a couple of the other Top 4 members slip up).

    I have us at 14/1 to win the CL and a Spurs friend of mine at 35/1 to win the PL - pretty good odds I'd say which will drop like a stone if we make 1 or 2 big signings in January.

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  • 71. At 12:25pm on 01 Dec 2008, tonefan wrote:

    After watching both Chelsea and United's game
    It clearly shows the inconsistency of referees.
    Rafel was booked for throwing the ball up in the air, various bookings some correct some not, evra being blocked on a one two not seen by the ref, or linesman outcome flecther being booked for a desperate attempt to cover the mistake
    Then in the Chelsea game John Terry's tackle was completely mishandled, it was a clear sending off diving two footed tackle studs showing there was no other decision but a red card.

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  • 72. At 12:30pm on 01 Dec 2008, Adam wrote:

    So, Scolari wants an apology eh? Well, I want a gold-plated toilet seat but it's not on the cards is it?

    The problem for Scolari is simple: if you shut down his attacking full backs you shut down his team. Every team now knows that if you press the flanks then Scolari has no other tactics.

    Instead of blaming the ref he should learn another system of play.

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  • 73. At 12:39pm on 01 Dec 2008, collie21 wrote:

    I think Arsenal are too far behind and Wenger is too occupied about what people think about his team and if they are intelligent. I don't think ferguson ever worried about Beckham or Ferdinand and their intelligence.....
    It has to be remember that chelsea have a lot of injuries, are actually in transition, this is a new manager don't forget and they are still top of the table or thereabouts depending on tonight. I think Arsenal might do it next season, but I can't see the meltdown happening to the teams in front of them required for them to win the league this year. The goal difference isn't enough, and those two points between them and United make all the difference having played a game more. I see them finishing where they are now, unless they show more fragility. It does seem they have a few players who might be very intelligent but psychologically weak Adebayor and of Gallas and perhaps it's time he had more faith in his kids.

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  • 74. At 12:50pm on 01 Dec 2008, Armchair Dave wrote:

    Arsenals title bid is over. Oh it's back on. No it's over. Oh it's back on again. I wish these "expert" pundits would make their minds up.

    Englands John Terry didn't get sent off for a 2-footed tackle because top England players get special treatment. Remember the last sending off got rescinded even though it should have stood.

    Solari also needs to get used to the poor refereeing. He came here all ref-loving and tree-kissing, bless him. It didn't take him long to realise the ref cost him at least a point. Certainly dropping points at home will be crucial.

    Typical weekend really. If you want possibly the best manager interview of the weekend take a look at Gary McAllister. Even though Leeds got dumped out of the FA cup buy a bunch of part timers (who previously knocked out League One Swindon) McAllister refused to make any excuses.

    I swear I saw someone planting potatoes on that pity at half time.

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  • 75. At 12:54pm on 01 Dec 2008, eastbelfastlinfield wrote:

    I think gunners2007 made a great point:

    "Has anyone noticed that despite all the depth their meant to have Chelsea's top notch strike force is made up of Anelka and Drogba as compared to Berbatov, Rooney and Tevez for United, Ade, RVP and Eduardo for Arsenal even Pool have Kuyt as well as Keane to back up Torres. Also what about their wingers? Out of Cole, Malouda and Kalou only Cole would stand a chance of breaking into the first 11 of any of the other top 4 sides. Just a thought but maybe 4 of the best central midfielders and 4 good centre backs does not a balanced side make..."

    I am a chelsea fan and I think that we have been crying out for that extra bit of flair, magic, skill whatever you want to call it for a number of seasons now.

    For Peter Kenyon to say that we are not spending money in January as a result of the global economic climate is all well and good. But we risk writing off this season altogether because we don't have that little bit of creative spark that all the other top 4 teams have. I wouldn't be surprised if we finished 3rd and trophy-less this season behind Liverpool and Man Utd (who I think will retain their European crown). And what if that happens; Scolari will be sacked and we will be back to square one.

    You can't expect Scolari to play a flair game without flair players. This team was built around a defensive system employed by Mourinho.

    Big Phil is not a bad manager. I have read and listened to countless Chelsea fans who say that his substitutions have been weak. But what substitutions is he supposed to make without a special player who can change a game?

    In summary we need a Robinho, Ronaldo, Fabregas, Torres even a Zaki or Geovanni to add that little bit of magic into our game.

    Oh how I wish Zola was 10 years younger

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  • 76. At 12:58pm on 01 Dec 2008, tgbutd wrote:

    super_critical

    You fun killer.i doubt you have a social life or true pals. Blogging is all about airing constructive views and having fun as a football community, not only cup "mongers". Phil(McNulty) never insinuated such absurd claims that Chelski are out of the title race.Did you even read the article.A dent has surely been inflicted by Arsenal, loathe it or not just as it applied to Man Utd's loss to the gooners a couple of weeks back. Cheerfully analysing this, Is not a crime Is it.Sorry for being blunt, but please don't let your apparent displeasure to certain individuals or bloggers cloud your sense of fun/ critical judgement. Anyway feeding the troll is not always a bad thing is it.

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  • 77. At 12:59pm on 01 Dec 2008, Nick wrote:

    I dont think there is any great mystery to Chelseas home form. Aside from the "Big 4" their results have been good.

    As for Arsenal, i think both Chelsea and United were wrongly prepared mentally. I think they both thought Arsenal were their for the taking so didnt play with the same intensity. Arsenal upped their work rate and desire and it paid off - twice.

    The PL race is still between three IMHO. As a United fan Liverpool are worrying me. It will be interesting to see how they manage without Torres but if they continue to pick up points again in his absence then i think they will be the team to beat.

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  • 78. At 1:02pm on 01 Dec 2008, chelskikovites wrote:

    Chelsea lost due to a single deflected goal against Liverpool, an offside goal against Arsenal, and drew with Man U. Not good, but not the end of the world.

    Against Arsenal, I wouldn't say we dominated, but we controlled the first hour. Then the goals came and that brought our one and only weakness center stage. Lack of a cutting edge upfront.

    Whilst Man U boast Ronaldo, Rooney, Berbatov and Tevez as there 'four' strikers, and Liverpool boast Torres, Kyte, Keane and Babel. We boast an injury prone and stupidity prone Drogba, a young Kalou, Anelka and the youngster Di Santos.

    That is our weakness. Of course Robinho would have strengthened that considerably despite not being an out and out striker, but once again we faffed around for 1-2 months to save the odd million. Kenyon is good at that, remember Robbin and Ronaldino at United?

    With Kalou and Anelka filling the 3/4 striker berths, we desperately need a 1/2 striker alongside Drogba. Someone top class, and preferably not injury prone or likely to become so. I.E. Young'ish.

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  • 79. At 1:04pm on 01 Dec 2008, Adam wrote:

    And Wenger is lying. Arsenal cannot win the league.

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  • 80. At 1:09pm on 01 Dec 2008, ItWasNeverOffside wrote:

    I can obviously understand the frustration of Scolari over the offside decision but if you want to look at big decisions that were wrong then what about the John Terry two footed tackle that "by the book" should have been red and also the fact that ivanovic was still on the pitch after three or four tackles that should have been bookings?

    Mistakes happen, you just remember them clearer when you lose!

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  • 81. At 1:16pm on 01 Dec 2008, DougCoglan wrote:

    Armchair Dave: when was the last time Gerrard, Terry, Ferdinand, Lampard or Rooney got sent off?

    Chelsea will be fine once Drogba and Joe Cole return. They also have Carvalho and Essien to come back who are huge... and all four of these are big game players.

    Chelsea are curently top and they'll be within 5 points of the top come the run-in when they'll find some form. It's like clockwork with Chelsea and United.

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  • 82. At 1:19pm on 01 Dec 2008, LondonsFinestClub wrote:

    Scolari is an honest man and spoke his mind objectivily and out of dissapointment. There were three clear errors by the officials which should be scrutinised, Twice in the first half Kalou was on side and in on goal only to be whistled off. Then in the second half th Officials handed the incentive to Arsenal when it was clearly offside. This is not a single mistake we are talking about and Scolari and Chelsea deserve an apology. Can a video official be brought in to deliberate on goals which are in question at least. Arsenal got out of jail three times and then got lucky. They are seven points behind Chelsea because Chelsea are simply a better team and It will take a lot of Dodgy refereeing to change that. To Arsenal's credit they rallied well after the second goal, but Chelsea couldn't believe the decisions that were being given and you can't expect ateam to play against the ref as well. Shocking decisions and Arsenal are still not worthy.

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  • 83. At 1:23pm on 01 Dec 2008, itsamansgame wrote:

    Chelsea's big problem is that 3 of their most important players are missing Drogba, Carvallho and Essien.

    I know Anelka's doing a good job but he's just not intimidating in the same way as Drogba (and I don't just mean physically the guy can really play).

    Additionally him and Essien are true fighters for their cause combine this with the cleveness and cynicism (he's merciless) of Carvallho and they still will be the team to beat. Mikel is a strong guy but just doesn't have what Essien (& Makelele) have.

    I agree with previous poster why did they get rid off of SWP and keep Malouda and Kalou - just because players are foreign doesn't mean they're better.

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  • 84. At 1:45pm on 01 Dec 2008, RedTarv wrote:

    coolguymanutd...0941...I love the way Utd fans can't even bring themselves to mention Liverpool in this title chatter...typically sad and blinkered......only 5 points behind Chelsea too....great and well done if you haul those back...we will be 8 points clear of you after tonight! But as we don't really exist then it won't matter...does anyone get the feeling that even if Liverpool win the title this year, just like with the CL in 2005, that there will be zero respect from the London media, and it will actually be a case of everyone else deciding not to bother winning it this year? It's like Utd and Chelsea fans thinking that football only started 18 and 4 years ago respectively too...

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  • 85. At 1:45pm on 01 Dec 2008, Druryqueen wrote:

    I serious doubt there's any threat over Chelsea's title challenge. Anelka is banging in goals and Drogba is to come back (if he doesn't go to Inter). I can't think of many better strikers than them two to help Chelsea being there or thereabouts come the end of the season. They have top class players to come back too, and lets not forget about what they can afford in the January market. Credit crunch? What credit crunch?!

    Re: Offside goal - if Anelka had scored a goal that was clearly offside then I, being an Arsenal fan, would be upset. I do however feel it's Arsenal's time to have a rub of the green and at the end of the day, it all pans out at the end of the season (it may have even paned out in the game - both Chelsea's centre half's should have gone).

    My heart says Arsenal still have hope with winning the league after that win, but my head says we're out of it still... it seems we love the "glamour" games, but don't want to roll our sleeves up and grind out wins with the so called smaller clubs.

    It's all something to talk about on a Monday, innit?! It's what makes the Premiership the best league in the world!

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  • 86. At 1:52pm on 01 Dec 2008, cov1985 wrote:

    72. Meekychuppet

    "So, Scolari wants an apology eh? Well, I want a gold-plated toilet seat but it's not on the cards is it?"

    I think a gold-plated toilet seat would be pretty low on the list of things I wanted.

    Still, if you've been a good boy this year, who knows what Santa might get you!

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  • 87. At 1:57pm on 01 Dec 2008, tedbim wrote:

    What was most worrying yesterday, as a Chelsea fan, was a lack of "Plan B". Scolari was forced into thowing on a young debutant in the hope of something spectacular and romantic, but I don't think we would

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  • 88. At 2:00pm on 01 Dec 2008, phil wrote:

    Hang on a minute! Is this the same Chelsea that has spent colossal sums in the last 3-4 years and apparently now have "no strength in depth" according to their own fans ? Jeez...

    Oh and RedTarv - United had arguably the most talented team ever assembled back in 1957, alot longer than 18 years ago - when your own team couldnt even claim to the best team in Liverpool...

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  • 89. At 2:03pm on 01 Dec 2008, tedbim wrote:

    Chelsea wouldn't have equalised yesterday in a month of Sundays. Stoch as a last throw of the dice? Not even a true romantic could see that working out.
    Truth is, the Blues are yet to properly replace Arjen Robben.
    Malouda, Kalou, Anelka... all one dimensional with no cutting edge.
    I'm sure Chelsea will overcome this but how can a team that has cost hundreds of millions to assemble look so unimaginative???

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  • 90. At 2:03pm on 01 Dec 2008, Adam wrote:

    DougCoglan:

    'Armchair Dave: when was the last time Gerrard, Terry, Ferdinand, Lampard or Rooney got sent off?'

    Lampard was sent off midweek. I haven't seen any red-worthy tackles from that list except from Terry. Keep hearing how dirty Gerrard and Rooney get away with it, yet nobody seems to be able to provide evidence.

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  • 91. At 2:08pm on 01 Dec 2008, footy_analysis - play beautifully - wrote:

    There's a reason Chelsea have been so solid at home over the last couple of seasons - Mourinho's dire brand of football.

    Chelsea fans should be delighted that they're now playing football you'd actually want to watch!

    The two defeats at home this season have been very tight. Liverpool have definitely upped a gear this season (though how long that will last I'm not sure) and Arsenal, had the ref's assistant wore his contact lenses, wouldn't have won yesterday, so they can easily get back to unbeatable ways at the Bridge.

    But I quite like the fact Chelsea aren't looking as solid because it means they're trying to play football and not, as Mourinho would say, only parking the bus.......

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  • 92. At 2:14pm on 01 Dec 2008, RedTarv wrote:

    88 - middleagedred....sorry, my mistake....I also forgot there was a one off period of football during that era as well...I think Utd were the best team then...but nothing else until the 90's...;)

    ...seriously no point ever comparing the talent of teams in era's gone by anyway...that side would get battered by a mid-table side today probably...

    ...good shout on the Chelsea spending however middleagedred...they must have written off 1/4 billion in players over 4 years and still have no strength to show for it...that astute Kenyon chap has done so well there...he could qualify to run a bank now?

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  • 93. At 2:14pm on 01 Dec 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    Interesting description of Chelsea in one post as "flat track bullies" a la Graeme Hick.

    Wouldn't go that far, but I asked Scolari after the game about their poor return of one point from three games against their main title rivals, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

    He admitted he was concerned and said while he was delighted with their flawless league form on their travels, he knew they now had to cure the problem they had at home. Quickly.

    Chelsea are missing some big players and need them back soon.

    Ricardo Carvalho is a huge presence. The second goal came from a routine high ball into the area and the Portuguese just gives off an air of authority.

    Michael Essien is also a crucial absentee, but other teams are missing key players and they just have to deal with it until they return.

    And just to respond to one earlier poster. It is a cheap shot to call Arsene Wenger a liar when he says Arsenal can win the league.

    Why shouldn't he say that?

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  • 94. At 2:21pm on 01 Dec 2008, mi_pratik wrote:

    First of All i am not at all a gr8 fan of Chelsea but i like their style of play especially in home grounds.But when MAN UTD drew with them that was the time I thought Scolari does not have a B Plan when it comes to playing at home Chelsea are getting little careless abt their approach to games at home

    They need some hairdryer treatment about their approach they should be made reliazed that MAN UTD are defending champions and not they

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  • 95. At 2:23pm on 01 Dec 2008, Xavierneville wrote:

    Phil,

    A good blog on a subject close to my heart......perhaps just like a surprise package Chelsea are being found out, or rather their manager has. Most teams have been beaten by Chelsea's all out attacking especially from their full backs but just like Brazil if you can stay with them eventually you can nulify their power and use it as their weakness. Anyone watching can see Chelsea lack variety and can be caught high up the pitch.
    Chelsea's record against the other big three stands up because they were dour, solild and frequently won games by closing them down, if Chelsea fans want to see goals be prepared to lose games also......very rarely do you get both.

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  • 96. At 2:29pm on 01 Dec 2008, GUNNERH wrote:

    CHELSEA ARE NOT IN CRISIS. THEY HAVE LOST A COUPLE OF GAMES AND ARE HAVING A BAD RUN OF FORM. ARSENAL GOT THEM GOOD ON THE DAY AS THEY DID AGAINST MAN.U. IT IS A GREAT GAME THAT HAS LOTS OF PEOPLE WRITING THEIR COMMENTS ON BLOGS LIKE THIS ONE WHICH IS GREAT. WE ALL WANT OUR TEAM TO WIN THE LEAGUE AND AT THE MOMENT THE TEAM WITH THE IMPETUS IS MAN.U. - I JUST HOPE IT DOSEN'T LAST!

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  • 97. At 2:36pm on 01 Dec 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    Interesting point about Mourinho's brand of football and that superb home league record.

    I suppose the trade off for Scolari's more expansive approach is that Chelsea do leave themselves more wide open.

    Do any Chelsea fans feel they lack width in the forward positions at home - I am talking attacking players rather than their two full-backs.

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  • 98. At 2:50pm on 01 Dec 2008, RVP1968 wrote:

    Collie21 wrote:

    I think Arsenal are too far behind and Wenger is too occupied about what people think about his team and if they are intelligent. I don't think ferguson ever worried about Beckham or Ferdinand and their intelligence.....
    It has to be remember that chelsea have a lot of injuries, are actually in transition, this is a new manager don't forget and they are still top of the table or thereabouts depending on tonight. I think Arsenal might do it next season, but I can't see the meltdown happening to the teams in front of them required for them to win the league this year. The goal difference isn't enough, and those two points between them and United make all the difference having played a game more. I see them finishing where they are now, unless they show more fragility. It does seem they have a few players who might be very intelligent but psychologically weak Adebayor and of Gallas and perhaps it's time he had more faith in his kids.

    ...................................................................

    I couldnt disagree more with virtually every point you make.

    Arsenal are 7 points behind Chelsea, thats two wins and a draw, considering Arsenal beat you yesterday, its possible - some would say likely, that Arsenal would beat you at the Emirates (as they did last year). Thats the gap down to 4 points. As you have won just 3 games at home from 8 (meaning you have dropped 13 points at home), its hardly stretching imagination to conceive that that gap could be gone by the end of January.

    There are around 70 points left to play for...70!! Thats a hell of alot of points.

    Your away record currently is simply superb, however the only decent side (with respect to the others) was Man City. Hardly a pointer to how well you will handle away games to bigger, more competitive sides in the months to come. But you can only beat what's in front of you admittedly, just dont get carried away with the calibre of who you've actually played.

    Also, how do you know what Arsene Wenger is pre-occupied with? Are you producing a fly on the wall documentary on him? Of course you're not... it's just you cant seem to distinguish between questions that are put to Wenger by the media and he has to answer and what he really IS preoccupied with and that is Arsenal winning football matches and trophies.

    With regard to Chelsea having injuries, yes you have a few, Arsenal over the past 2-3 weeks have had 9 first teamers out, 5 with long term injuries so no, Chelsea cannot blame that, especially when you have one of the largest, best equipped squads anywhere. No excuses.

    As for the transition period you mentioned, are you having a laugh?? What transition? Could you explain the massive team rebuilding going on at the bridge which apparently has passed me by?? The vast majority of your playing staff have premiership medals in the trophy cabinet... so what transition period are you talking about?? Your manager is also world class. Some transition...

    I also doubt you thought Gallas was psychologically weak when he was lifting titles and cups with you..

    And as for your last comment, that really takes the biscuit!! Wenger should trust in youth a bit more?? Are you for real?? In both league and cup, there is no manager anywhere in the civilised world who has given youth a bigger chance...and i dont think there is a fan anywhere who would dispute that...apart from maybe one.

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  • 99. At 2:53pm on 01 Dec 2008, shaunsworld wrote:

    So one of Arsenal's goals may have been off-side, why does that need an apology? It's about time officials started applying the offside law correctly. That is, where there is doubt, the benefit of the doubt goes to the attacker.

    Sepp Blatter (surprisingly maybe) summarised it quite well a couple of years ago when he said that linesman still have not realised that it is better to allow a marginally offside goal than it is to disallow an onside goal

    In cricket a similar interpretation applies with regard to LBW, and both officials and commentators appear to understand the law perfectly. Where there is doubt - not out. That means when hawkeye shows the ball clipping off stump there is no inquest and the official is not pilloried for an error - quite the reverse he is applauded for a correct application of the law (i.e. there was doubt)

    Is it not about time that football commentators started analysing the offside decisions in the same way. There is no reason to draw lines across the pitch and roll it back and forth, sighing and groaning about how its "too close to call" if its close IT'S ON SIDE!!!!

    I have no love for either Chelsea or Arsenal - I'm completely neutral and in my opinion the officials should be credited for applying the rule correctly for once

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  • 100. At 3:17pm on 01 Dec 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    Scolari was clearly heated up after the game and it was easy to understand his frustration.

    What I will say is that he was not openly disrespectful to the officials and did not suggest they were anything other than honest mistakes.

    He wants the officials to say sorry. He is not the first to do so this season.

    Everton's David Moyes demanded the same when Alan Wiley wrongly changed his mind about a legitimate penalty claim at Stoke.

    I really do feel it would be beneficial if referees spoke after games.

    If they came out and said they had made a mistake, or perhaps explained a contentious decision they had actually got right, then where is the harm in that?

    Communication. Simple really.

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  • 101. At 3:45pm on 01 Dec 2008, MeTheDaddy wrote:

    Very good article and hitting the nail on the head about current home form for Chelsea. Arsenal's goal was clearly offside and the second came from a free kick that wasn't, but what do you expect when playing Arsenal? They always have got and always will get referees' help. The real surprise was the total inability of Chelsea to create anything of note after conceding. They were so comfortable until Arsenal scored, but even up until that point they had created just about nothing. I know Scolari will talk about the offsides against Kalou with justification, but you have to create more against what looked like an ordinary Arsenal side, certainly nothing like the team of 4-5 years ago.
    However, Phil, would have to disagree about Chelsea's hitherto exceptional home form. If you look at the record books it will say they were undefeated for a long time. However, break it down and you will see in the last couple of seasons draws against the likes of Reading, Wigan, Bolton, Fulham, etc. all of which led to Chelsea not making it 3 or even 4 consecutive Premiership titles.

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  • 102. At 3:49pm on 01 Dec 2008, RedTarv wrote:

    Asking for the ref to say sorry is the new disrespect..."let's get them to look stupid in public and have to apologise"...

    Refs don't really need to apologise, and it is danagerous to set expectations that they will do...plus they are human and football is great because we still rely on human error to provide some of the entertainment...we would have nothing to talk about otherwise!!

    Also, do players apologise to them for diving to con them (Rooney aside), or for clapping them...or managers for abusing 4th officials and picking the wrong side?

    We have the technology to prove someone was off side by milimeters so it fuels the problem. Don't you just love being able to talk about contentious decisions on Monday's instead? We don't want to become NFL do we with all the ref explanations to the crowd and video analysis stopping and starting things?? BORING!!!!

    There is enough communication already Phil, just perhaps not stuff that comes to the surface for the fans, and either way certain managers will still argue their point or not happen to see things if it suits, etc.?


    Great shout from shaunsworld too re cricket!

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  • 103. At 4:26pm on 01 Dec 2008, admiraltroll wrote:

    Agree with 13 - there is so much "Arsenal were Lucky" (to be fair they were on the first goal) and little comment on John Terry's flying two-footed studs-up challenge on Sagna - Chelsea were lucky that he didn't get a red card

    Perhaps if the goal had been disallowed John Terry's sending off would have been the defining moment.

    OTOH perhaps the ref didn't send him off as an "even-up" for the goal

    Anyway I'm sure Chelsea will get some lucky goal before the end of the season and Arsenal will be unlucky with a ref's decision - it always goes around.

    About time football (soccer in the US) had instant replay on important plays that result in a goal - 3 challenges per match per side shouldn't be unreasonable

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  • 104. At 4:26pm on 01 Dec 2008, Hotchkii wrote:

    Lets face it Chelsea are not in a crisis, far from it in fact. However, it does seem that they do struggle against a well organised team. 3 wins in 8 home games suggests that when a team come to Stamford Bridge and sets out their stall to take a point Chelsea are struggling to break them down, against Liverpool Chelsea simply didn't have an answer to unlock Liverpool. It seems they have a similar problem as England in midfield, they have proved talent but may i suggest too many cooks. They have little attacking width as Deco, Lampard, Ballack & Mikel prefer to play central. Yes, the full backs do get up well but not to the extent of being a goal threat and A. Cole final ball isn't going to get him 15+ assists per season.
    My option would be they should revert to 4-3-3 with wide players as Scolari claims to be the master of this. I'm not sure Scolari can keep Essien, Ballack, Lampard, Deo, Mikel, J.Cole happy. They certainly don't all fit into a balanced starting 11.

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  • 105. At 4:58pm on 01 Dec 2008, Carlo is the Don Drogba is the hitman wrote:

    Chelsea should buy Lukas Padolski from Bayern Munich in Jan. he's looking to get out of there.

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  • 106. At 4:59pm on 01 Dec 2008, mohtechnix wrote:

    Here we go again.. Scolari is barely 6 months into his job and the English press are already ranting about his home form, deco fading since the turn of the winter and what not mainly because they have lost to Arsenal and Liverpool at home. Yes we all know Chelsea rarely loose matches at stamford bridge but at least they were beaten by the same teams that have defeated the european and premiership champions in recent weeks. At least they did not loose to Hull, Stoke or Fulham.

    I presume we all watched the match yesterday and what brought Arsenal back in to the game was the vivid offside goal by van persie and I still cannot figure out what the lineman was doing because he was clearly on the same line with Van Persie but due to the monotonous power given to football officials he decided to ignore it. If anyone watched match of the day, the lineman was in a better position to see Van persie's offside than Kalou's two clear onside that he claimed to be off. Where the premiership officiating is heading to, no one knows. Anyway the number of English officials in fifa's world cup list speak volumes.

    About Scolari, I believe he will bring the team back to glory in due time. It is just one of those hurdles that every coach come across in their respective careers. Deco is still one of the best creative midfielder in Europe, To be fair he has not been in his best since he picked up the injury in the warm up match against man utd but I am sure he still made few slick and brilliants passes in the first half of the match which in my own opinion was better than Ballack and Lampard's contribution. Although he switched off during the second half and was dis possesed a couple of times but the whole midfield was poor and with Kalou runing aimlessly and Anelka again going missing in bigger occasion, Deco's efforts were pretty much insignificant to the team's result, but I think it is too early for the press to start criticising him when we all know his creativity has enabled chelsea to play a more appealing football this season.

    With Drogba, Cavarlho, Essien, Joe cole out what other plan B do you expect Scolari to plot please? He has only one fit unrealiable striker in Anelka who has scored 12 tap in goals, Kalou not an outright striker and I loss count of how many times my 75 yrs old granddad screemed shoot when he had the ball yesterday.

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  • 107. At 5:10pm on 01 Dec 2008, dindincf wrote:

    I will admit that adebayor didnt have his best game but he did provide knock downs for both of arsenals goals. For the first goal he knocked it down for nasri to keep the attacking threat alive and i believe that without his headers we dont score any goals. I think the weak link was an out of position denilson who failed to contribute anything in attack.

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  • 108. At 5:14pm on 01 Dec 2008, gringo Loco wrote:

    I'm an expat Baggies fan so neutral on the subject.

    There are no easy EPL matches except the Baggies.

    The officials should be mandated to attend the after match press conference. I don't know how accountable they are but the decision for the Arsenal goal was worse than the "Hand of God".

    However Chelsea still had the rub of the green. Ivanovich should have had various yellows and the Argentinian commentator was gobsmacked that Terry didn't get a straight red. How do you say gobsmacked in Spanish?

    I've seen nothing this season that suggests that Arsenal can win the league, however I'll reserve final judgement until 1st Feb after the window has shut and knowing what the points difference is at that point. They do play the best foiotball, and the young team can stay together for 10 years. They will have success, but maybe not this year.

    Liverpool have won most games by a single goal, so are not killing off the opposition. For Stevie G's case I hope they do it.

    Chelsea have dropped quite a few home points. They cannot possible maintain 100% away record, so will have to improve at home. They've played the other top 4 teams at home so why not? They have by far the best goal difference which might make the difference come May.

    Man U. have not had the same injuries as the other top teams. Will they continue to be so lucky. They have the most oustanding attack in England if not Europe. however, they have to go to Japan for a week..... more games in hand will not be useful.

    About the EPL being the best league, we've had 4 years of success, but I feel this year will be Spains. In the Cl it is

    Spain 41 pts
    EPL 39
    Italy 31

    At the moment it looks like Barcelona are the team to avoid.

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  • 109. At 5:30pm on 01 Dec 2008, Armchair Dave wrote:

    Phil,

    I agree that refs should come out and set the record straight. Maybe some of them want to.

    However, you have to remember that if referees did this, it may undermine them, which is something the FA will avoid.

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  • 110. At 5:33pm on 01 Dec 2008, shilpa1 wrote:

    I am a Chelsea fan. So am saddened with the result yesterday.

    I think this will be Liverpools season :

    1. Rafa is not rotating the squad.
    2. More stability in Liverpool squad.
    3. They are getting results when they should have got a draw.
    4. S Bridge is no longer a 3 point guarantee for Chelsea.
    4. Man Utd dont look brilliant as they did last 2 seasons.
    5. Arsenal dont have a depth in the squad.

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  • 111. At 5:33pm on 01 Dec 2008, Xavierneville wrote:

    Chelsea Like so many teams lack width high up the pitch and by width we mean genuine width, wingers who go outside their man. Before I start I'm not picking on Chelsea most sides don't have wingers(that are any good).....

    Cole; always goes inside and never out with little pace
    Malouda; the guy has good movement but not the personality to make it in this league

    Just a couple of examples to illustrate the point, it makes sense that they struggle to break down teams who come to defend.

    One last point chelsea's great record owes to one man who should get more praise. I know one man does maketh the team but Petr Cech has on several occasions single handely preserved that great record

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  • 112. At 5:35pm on 01 Dec 2008, Dave Santorum wrote:

    ** 103 **
    At 4:26pm on 01 Dec 2008, admiraltroll wrote:

    About time football (soccer in the US) had instant replay on important plays that result in a goal - 3 challenges per match per side shouldn't be unreasonable.

    ** End **

    Wenger's made the occasional comment about this too. I think robotic linesmen would be much more effective.

    I guess in an attacking situation the instant replay showing a player onside would result in all the defensive players giving the attacker a two second head start for goal.

    No, I don't think this should happen.

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  • 113. At 5:44pm on 01 Dec 2008, Optomistic and English wrote:

    im still not convinced at all by Arsenal, the team has great potential, they really do raise their game against United, Chelsea, and Liverpool, but are easily undermined by teams of good quality like Villla who they seem to take lightly. this does seem to be an attitude problem, which is whu i dont think they will be in the top 3 this year.

    Liverpool, well i always think they have potential as long as Steven Gerrard is in the team, but if he wasnt arround Liverpool would be an average team, not to say that player like Keane, Torres, Kuyt, etc aren't great players, but every time they win by single goals Gerrard seems to be involved, and they struggle when he's not arround or in form. this is a real issue which needs to be addressed.

    Chelsea are a real threat, but have a different management style now than the past 2 managers who made the Bridge a real hard place to go. not that Scolari isnt a good manger, he's just more aggressive which means that that they are more likely to drop points, but also stand a better chance of winning more games, so its swings and roundabouts!

    As for Man Utd, i havent seen them sparkle yet this year, but there still up there, thats impressive in its own right. The attack is as many would agree probably the best in Europe. and in the past few years i would say though the defence has been outstanding. and this still continues, but its not quite 100% on either front. but with the top 9 finshers from last year done away from home now its more home games, i think we may still see much more come soon!

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  • 114. At 5:58pm on 01 Dec 2008, Bob Taylor wrote:

    Scolari has brought in two players during his reign at the Bridge. Both quality. He has inherited a number of players who are just not good enough and will without doubt be sold off in January or at the end of the season. Big Fil has been eyeing the up and coming starlets from the academy- unlike any of his predecessors and maybe that is where the future of CFC lies. Give big Fil a break. He is teaching the team to play attractive passing football, but some are not learning the new tricks while others are or will excel to the advantage of both team and country.

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  • 115. At 6:01pm on 01 Dec 2008, kamalarsenal wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 116. At 6:14pm on 01 Dec 2008, 55veteran wrote:

    The coin incident says it all. Drogba doesn't care about playing for Chelsea, and there are too many other freeloaders with the same attitude.
    Too cold for them on Sunday I think

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  • 117. At 6:19pm on 01 Dec 2008, Ricter wrote:

    Without J. Cole, Chelsea lack creativity and their only option is a strong, direct physical attack to break teams down. They really didn't create enough to deserve a win but maybe a little unlucky to lose.

    The first 60+ minutes were fun to watch. The last 20-25 minutes was playground football. Boot the long ball and chase....not pretty to watch.

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  • 118. At 6:41pm on 01 Dec 2008, carefree wrote:

    The wingers have let us down big time, joe cole being injured has not helped, but malouda n kalou's contribution is dier, couple this with mikel who just wants to slow the game down n pass it is side ways all the time when wer 2-1 down! its depressing, ashley cole comes inside all the time, bridge is a far better attacking full back than cole, everytime bridge crosses it its a good cross 9/10.
    terry doesnt look fit to me, we need to get malouda n kalou out of this team, id rather see stoch n sinclair in at least they'd give 100% and actually contribute something. deco is off the pace, ballack does nothing how can lampard n bosingwa run a team on their own?

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  • 119. At 6:52pm on 01 Dec 2008, gringo Loco wrote:

    If a manager calls an official incompetent, it is a charge of bringing the game into disrepute. What charge is there for an ACTUAL incompetent official?

    The problem is is there actually anyone more competent available?

    The mandatory retirement of officials is rediculous. After say 40, they should have a fitness exam every year and only when they fail should they be retired.

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  • 120. At 7:09pm on 01 Dec 2008, GunnarShumba wrote:

    Ok, some are saying Arsenal got extremely lucky with RvP's offside goal. But lets not forget also that Arsenal were pretty unlucky with Djourou's own goal, so if those two cancel each other out, the gunners would still win one nil, luck or no luck. So at the end of the day the gooners just didn't rely on luck, but did enough to win.
    Chelsea deserved to lose today. Ok, they played better in first half, but there wasn't much between the two sides than, whereas once Arsenal equalised they always looked the more likely to score again. Scolari should be addressing his blunt strike force and the whole side's disjointed perfomance, and not try to pass the buck.

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  • 121. At 7:38pm on 01 Dec 2008, roger wrote:

    The Arsenal game reminded me of the Roma game. We dominated yet failed to score. They got a goal against the run of play, and we fell apart. I hope it is going to be a common pattern.

    What Chelsea lack is Arjen Robben. It was a huge mistake to sell. We should have bought Tevez. Malouda, Kalou, and Joe Cole are only good enough for the bench.

    Anelka is okay. Drogba needs to go. Drogba had one great season. He's a natural goal scorer, and he ocassionally makes the sensational goal...but he goes missing for weeks, his attitude is poor, he dives and fakes injury every game, he is not able to hold the ball and involve other players, he looks like a schoolboy trying to take on a defender, he's selfish, and he's not loyal to the team.

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  • 122. At 7:40pm on 01 Dec 2008, goonergetit wrote:

    Another blog about Arsenal, cynical or not, to be judged, Wenger's opinion, references to Hull Stoke and Fulham, more judgement and opinion. You're free to give it I suppose, Arsenal are a hot topic because the script they're writing is possibly the most phenominal revelation that's occured to the game of football, what they threaten to do is frightening. But are there not other teams or subjects that the press want to judge, it would make a refreshing change. What about the two footed lunge by John Terry that he only got a booking for? How long before we get another Edu leg break? The press talk about officialdom, assistant linesmen but do they write about how we can change the game to make it better. Each manager to have two video appeals, it'll work, and save us all the regular weekly farce of bashing dedicated caring helpless referees. Why do we not read about the futility of the yellow card, who cares about a yellow card as long as it thwarts a goal and saves three points. Get 4 yellow cards, save your team 12 points and get banned for one game so your zillion pound teamate can have his chance. Shaun Wright Phillips was involved in 4 bookings this weekend ! Because if your squad is big enough why not foul SWP. Man Utd will get a pathetic fine. Blogs can invigorate and set the agenda and garner progress but this opportunity is regularly spurned by the pundits and journalists. Take a look at interviews by journalists of new foreign players and managers that barely speak English and laugh at the language used by the journalists expecting the footballer to understand , Scolari's interview being yet another example. Each time I read a Alan Hansen blog I think how insightful his remarks are, feel like putting a bet on, get down the bookies to find he always backs the favourites. Football journalists want to focus on national identity and bank account transparency. When are we going to get insightfulness by professionally trained journalists ? Help.

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  • 123. At 00:04am on 02 Dec 2008, Phemmy070 wrote:

    Nice work Phil. Chelse now lack cluster at home. Every time we go down 1:0 in a match we imeditely bgin to play witout rythm. Instead of askin for 'a sorry', scolari sit down and think of a better way of approaching a 0:1 situation at home. But we should not hide from the fact that the linesman who was unable to see RVP in a clean off side positn was able to see kaluo and anelka ofside

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  • 124. At 00:47am on 02 Dec 2008, Cameron wrote:

    Phil McNulty - "I really do feel it would be beneficial if referees spoke after games."

    Mate, I think that is not a very good idea at all.

    I am a referee and have made decisions before that I know a few seconds after I've made them might not have been correct.

    It's not that you mean to get it wrong, it's just that in the course of general play you can be unsighted and with the speed of the premiership it would be very difficult not to get some decisions wrong.

    The only thing to come out of it would be more questions. Soon you'd have John Terry and Ashley Cole asking the referee for explainations of every decision they make.

    Arsene Wenger would moan, Alex Ferguson would rant, Rafa Benitez would whinge, and Big Phil would ask rhetorical questions all night long if we got the referees answering questions.

    It would turn most interviews into inquisitions.

    This is how a chat with the referee might have gone after Chelsea Vs Arsenal

    1st question: Why did you allow the first RVP goal to stand when the replay shows it was offside ?
    Answer: Well my linesman kept his flag down so what can I say, he apparantly got it wrong. But we didn't get the benefit of a replay.

    2nd Question: Why did you not book John Terry for his two footed challenge ?
    Answer: Well I thought it wasn't dangerous as his feet were at ground level and I was slightly unsighted so I didn't see it well enough to justify a booking.

    3rd Question: Why did you not book Denilson for diving when he went down late in the penalty box ?
    Answer: Because I wasn't sure it was a dive and I wasn't sure it was a penalty so it was play on in my view.

    4th Question: Why did you not book Ivanovic for his foul on Clichy just outside the box which looked cynical at best ?
    Answer: Well I thought that he (Ivanovic) was trying to get the ball and mistimed his tackle.

    All questions would inevitibly be justifying mistakes or percieved mistakes. It would do nothing for the referee except maybe raise the expectation levels.

    Now that is an unreasonable expectation until the referees get paid to be full time referees and get paid more than just a small fraction of what the players and managers get.

    We don't ask players to explain the decisions that they make in the games, like why did you pass instead of having a shot.

    Why John Terry did you go into tackle with both feet, why Fabregas did you pass left instead of right etc.

    Not a good idea in my humble opinion.

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  • 125. At 01:59am on 02 Dec 2008, a fat bloke down the pub said so wrote:

    I agree with Phil McNulty, referees speaking after games is absolutely the right way forward. Admitting errors is only part of it, but a big part. As it stands when the officials get it wrong and there's no explanation, observers are left frustrated, communication would remove a lot of that.

    I have been a ref, and sometimes you do get it wrong, players. managers and fans understand that. You can only give it the way you see it. A lot of it used to be sorted out informerly, in the bar after the game, maybe it still is.

    It would also allow the ref to explain a point of law. I am regularly amazed by the lack of understanding of the laws by people in the game, including commentators and pundits. I remember a Sunday league game my dad was refing, a bunch of people were fuming that he hadn't given a goal, 3 or 4 of them approached him at half time, I thought there were going to be punches thrown. They ranted, he listened, then picked up a ball and placed it so the part that touched the ground was over the line but not the whole of the ball, he asked them if that was in or out, they all said "OUT". He then explained it was in, the whole of the ball had not crossed the line. They calmed down immediately and even apologised.

    I think it would also help to flush out the incompetent refs, and there are a few in the premier league. The decisions they make have a huge impact on teams, players and their families. They should be more accountable. They should also be given more help and training, like most other jobs.

    We may not ask players to explain their decisions, but I imagine their managers do, and if the player is not up to it they let him go, or they help him improve.

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  • 126. At 04:04am on 02 Dec 2008, vino147 wrote:

    The reason why Abramovich is not going to buy players in the January transfer window is not because he is saving his money to buy a new mansion but because he has lost hundreds of millions of dollars in the financial situation that has hit the world recently.

    However Arsenal on the other hand have confirmed that Wenger has at least 30 million to spend in January, if he wants.

    Just goes to show you how things can change

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  • 127. At 11:55am on 03 Dec 2008, 55veteran wrote:

    All goes to show that ManU remain the team to beat, not because they're particularly talented, but they just get the best out of what they have.
    Drogba is a good example of a huge talent going to waste at a club who have never been able to do that.
    Players invariably improve at ManU. Other than Lampard and Joe Cole, it's difficult to quote an example of that at Chelsea.

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