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Arsenal expose Chelsea cracks

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Phil McNulty | 01:18 UK time, Tuesday, 28 December 2010

The Emirates

As Arsene Wenger celebrated a victory he believes completes Arsenal's transformation from boys to men, Carlo Ancelotti confessed Chelsea's season has slumped into a deep sleep.

It was only seven months ago, at the end of his first campaign at Stamford Bridge, that Ancelotti added his name to the elite ranks of those who have claimed the domestic double of league and FA Cup.

And yet, after an abject and emphatic defeat at the hands of an Arsenal side they have made their personal playthings in the past, Chelsea's coach was fending off questions about his future as he admitted it was not just his fading team that needed to wake swiftly from their current nightmare.

How times change. Like two leading men swapping roles at the end of a long-running production, it was Wenger who was released from the shackles Chelsea have imposed on him while Ancelotti was suddenly the man in chains.

Arsenal cleared the barrier Wenger regarded as a psychological hurdle for the first time since November 2008, answering questions even posed from within their own ranks about their ability to overcome superpowers such as Chelsea and Manchester United.

The tables were turned as Wenger eulogised about the "mannish dimension" to Arsenal's win and warned the days when they could be bullied - particularly by the likes of Chelsea and Didier Drogba - were over.

Wenger has bridled in the past about "men against boys" jibes aimed at Arsenal in defeat to Chelsea, so he was entitled to return fire after such a convincing victory.

In this season of swings, Arsenal must now regard themselves as serious contenders for the crown if they can bottle the self-belief this deserved 3-1 win will give them and carry it with them through the rest of the season.

Carlo Ancelotti (left) and Arsene Wenger
Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti (left) and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger are going in different directions

The very notion of Ancelotti being under threat is, in most circumstances, a ridiculous one but the shadow an impatient and demanding owner in the shape of Roman Abramovich hangs permanently over Stamford Bridge.

Abramovich is not renowned for limitless tolerance of bad results and past history tells us he will not take kindly to a run of only six points out of a possible 24 for a Chelsea side that opened so impressively that many thought the title would be wrapped up by this very Christmas.

Luiz Felipe Scolari lasted only seven months after a similar golden start slipped into the sort of decline that has accompanied a sudden air of instability and unease settling on Chelsea this season.

And Ancelotti was not hiding from what he knows to be the reality under Abramovich as he said: "We have to wake up. Now we are sleeping and maybe I have to be the first to wake up."

In the past Chelsea's experience has been the crucial factor as they have, to use Wenger's own word, "battered" Arsenal. Here at the Emirates experience looked suspiciously like ageing as Arsenal's young legs simply had too much pace and intensity for Ancelotti's side.

Chelsea and Ancelotti deserve more respect than to be written off after one bad run, but the warning signs are flashing as they drop to fourth place in the Premier League, six points behind leaders Manchester United having played a game more.

Ancelotti, for all the past expenditure, has a threadbare squad at his disposal. Chelsea's bench was embarrassingly inferior to Arsenal's where Wenger had Marouane Chamakh, Abou Diaby, Andrey Arshavin, Tomas Rosicky and Nicklas Bendtner to call on.

Much has been made of the sacking of Ancelotti's assistant Ray Wilkins as the catalyst for their slide, a decision that clearly failed to meet with his approval. And in a moment when four members of Chelsea's backroom staff appeared in the technical area at the Emirates to offer advice, there was no sign of Wilkins' successor Michael Emanolo.

Wilkins was a popular member of Ancelotti's staff, but if his departure really has led to Chelsea's form jumping off a cliff then the entire empire was built on the flakiest foundations. It is an unlikely story.

Ancelotti said: "I know Roman Abramovich won't be happy about this moment but I have to take my responsibility and I will take my responsibility."

He added: "Everybody said last year that I did a fantastic job. Everybody can now say that my job is not good - and that first one who says this is me. We are in a bad moment. I thought we were out of it and I was surprised by this performance because we have had two good weeks of training.

"I'm worried, obviously, because that's six or seven games we've not been able to win. I didn't see the team playing the way we want."

If there is pressure on Ancelotti to turn results around, surely there is even greater pressure on Abramovich to support the Italian with the serious funds needed to fill out a squad that has been allowed to get too thin.

When I asked Ancelotti if he believed Abramovich would also fulfil his responsibility, he responded: "We are speaking about this. If we are able to do something we will."

Ancelotti is a dignified, diplomatic figure and he will recognise that twin factors are behind Chelsea's recent demise - a loss of form and a squad that is not up to strength, something he alluded to significantly when he admitted: "We don't have the possibility to change a lot of players."

The core strength remains in Ancelotti's squad, but it now needs a period of renewal as well as strengthening around the edges and certainly with better buys than £17m Brazilian Ramires, who looks lightweight and out of his depth.

No-one can criticise Abramovich for instigating a period of austerity in west London after the lavish early spending, but Ancelotti will surely request for the purse strings to be loosened now to augment gifted players who remain in the hunt for major trophies.

Chelsea were simply swept aside by Arsenal, driven on by the lift of Alex Song's goal on the stroke of half-time. Laboured, although there was no lack of effort, Chelsea lacked the urgency to inflict any of the punishment they usually reserve for the Gunners.

Arsenal hustled and harried Chelsea out of the defensive certainty that was once their calling card as Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott added two more in the space of two minutes just after the interval to confirm the win.

Branislav Ivanovic's header cannot even be filed under consolation. There was no consolation for Chelsea on this miserable night. And the frustrations bubbling close to the surface flared up as John Terry and Drogba confronted each other angrily near the centre circle immediately after Walcott's goal, one of the few obvious signs of passion on show from a surprisingly timid Chelsea.

The contrast in emotions in the two camps was stark. This was the sort of affirming performance Wenger has craved amid the criticism, plenty of it here it should be said, that Arsenal do not deliver when it matters.

I have been accused of being too harsh on Arsenal in the past. Not this time. They were impressive almost from first whistle to last, although Wenger himself issued wise words of wisdom when he warned victory against Chelsea must not be undermined by under-performance at Wigan later this week.

Wenger's blueprint was perfect and Arsenal carried it out to the letter. Johan Djourou subdued the tormentor Drogba, while Walcott's pace drove Chelsea on to the back foot and put an instant stop to Ashley Cole's usual attacking intent.

When I questioned Wenger on what the victory, and the manner of victory, would do for Arsenal he said: "It is a team we needed to beat because it gave a double impact. Mathematically it keeps us in touch with the leaders and psychologically there was also an impact because we have proved we are capable of winning these big games."

Arsenal's season is alive and well. Ancelotti must now find the formula to awaken the sleeping giants of Chelsea.

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Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Chelsea need to pull up their socks if they want to keep that 4th champions league position.

    But arsenal fans can enjoy the replays of beautiful win for some time to come. i hope we keep the winning mentality and get one back against manu in the reverse fixture.

    its going to be a long season but we are up for it...

  • Comment number 2.

    Chelsea will be back, dont worry. Lampard and Essien is back, but they still lack match fitness. And yes, Ramires is a lightweight, but out of this 17M Chelsea should have bought 3 talented French midfield anchors. Let's not forget Wenger still needs one more to deputize Song.
    however, you are the first to mention Phil that out of the limelight DJOROU became the stable point in Arsenal's defence in the last couple of years. he was just magnificent...

  • Comment number 3.

    I am missing something, how does a squad that wins the league, half a season later, look threadbare? Is there a massive injury list? Or have the sold off all their players?

    For the moment it looks like Wenger might have finally made it all click, while not spending huge sums of money, and going 5 years without a trophy could this be Arsenals year. I would say Chelsea are not the Chelsea of old, but if we really want to know if Wengers team has arrived, the result against Barca will tell us all. I still think they are going to trip over their own feet in the league as they often do. However my team, Man United, are not oblivious to the odd rediculous result in a season. But given that finally the peripheral players are putting in huge performances, Anderson for example, Park, Hernandez, and United are clearly on a roll, it's hard to see them messing it up now. Saying that all Ferguson has to do is put out the wrong team against Bermingham or anyone else and wheels will start coming off.

    I am wondering if what they said about Ancelotti before he took over at Chelsea is true, he is only good with established mature squads and no good at building them....

  • Comment number 4.

    this was the game that transformed arsenal from "boys to men"?

    how about they try against an in-form chelsea team? short term journalism in abundance

  • Comment number 5.

    I am wondering if what they said about Ancelotti before he took over at Chelsea is true, he is only good with established mature squads and no good at building them....
    ---------------------------------------------------------------
    To build a squad you need either time or money.

    At the moment Carlo has had neither!

    I am not saying I know 100% he is capable of building a new title winning squad, but you have to give him a chance.

  • Comment number 6.

    Well, you have to say about time too. There does seem to be a little more about Arsenal this season. Let's see what happens next.

  • Comment number 7.

    One swallow does not a sumer make, so let's not get carried away.
    Temper the typical media & Goonrs enthusiasm about anything Arsenal but remembering that :
    a ) Chelsea are in decline and on a very poor run. Before Arsenal beat them they had already been 5 games without a win, and only one win in their last 7.
    b ) Just the other day Arsenal were easily beaten by Manchester United.

    So, while it was a good win by Arsenal, as it a case of them being so good, or Chelsea being so poor? Probably a combination of the two.

    Arsenal & City to fight it out for 2nd spot, and Arsenal to fight it out with Spurs for 4th by the looks of things.

    Up until October if anyone had suggested Chelsea would finish out of the Top Four they would have been put in a padded cell, but there you have it.

  • Comment number 8.

    Chelsea released 5 experienced Premier League campaigners in the summer and brought in a brazillian who is still young and doesn't have PL experience. In recent memory I cannot remember a worse Chelsea bench, and , apart from Anelka they had their first team out too.

    The youngsters are too young and inexperienced. They will never get that experience now because, in a results driven business, Ancelotti cannot trust the fate of his job to them. The first team are strong but strip away 2-3 players and suddenly it looks average and the youngsters cannot adequately fill the void.

    Worrying times at Chelsea.

  • Comment number 9.

    Just to add to my earlier point, purely in terms of squad building, one of the best managers Chelsea have had was Claudio Ranieri.

  • Comment number 10.

    " although Wenger himself issued wise words of wisdom when he warned victory against Chelsea must not be undermined by under-performance at Wigan later this week. "

    And therin lys the problem! will this performance pale into insignificance due to a " not turn up " approach at Wigan? has Wenger solved this problem?

    As for the game yes we won 3-1 and it was a good performance but i also
    saw yet again some very poor defending and again Fabrinski was seen to be
    " flapping " on a few occasions and had the chelsea pensioners been a little more fleet of foot the game could have turned dramaticly.

    as for Arsenal " challengeing " for the title, seems to me thats what they should be doing right from the 1st game, if not the there is something seriously wrong.

    There are many hard games to come! and Wigan will be hard! to think otherwise would be folly. Wenger needs to ensure that having thumped and bullied the pensioners in emphatic style the team do not assume thats the
    be all and end all. They now need to focus, we have won nothing yet!

    so lets not get to carried away.

  • Comment number 11.

    #3: Ballack, Carvalho, Belletti, J.Cole, Deco were all sold/released. From the youth side of things Hutchinson (the most promising defender) had ot retire from injury, Stoch was sold, as were Sinclair and Di Santo (to be fair the latter three were probably deemed not up to standard)

    That is a hell of a lot of experience to miss ... the first team squad replacements were Benayoun (who quickly succumbed to a long-term injury), and Ramires (who looks lightweight as stated in the blog)

    Align that situation to other injuries to Terry, Alex, Lampard, malaria for Drogba, suspension and major loss of form for Essien, loss of form for Malouda and Anelka, and the fact that Kalou and Mikel are just plain not good enough and you have all the ingredients for the current crisis.

    The ray of sunshine is Josh McEachran, who looks to have an excellent football brain, and would probably already be in the team every week if he played at Arsenal or Everton.

    Not much we can do about it though, as it's all at the whim of the owner ... we just smile and support our club. We've had alot worse than this in certain parts of our history.

    KTBBFH

  • Comment number 12.

    Chelsea haven't won a single league game since Wilkin's sacking. Dismissing the most obvious of problems with...

    'Wilkins was a popular member of Ancelotti's staff, but if his departure really has led to Chelsea's form jumping off a cliff then the entire empire was built on the flakiest foundations. It is an unlikely story.'

    Borders on the perverse.

  • Comment number 13.

    Until they wake up from the sleep i will like to bask in the glory of walloping them bully's, and by the way did Carlo say anything about the mattress they are using to sleep cos i need one asap!

  • Comment number 14.

    I thought this Chelsea team were going to sweep all competition out of the way and win everything.

    Thats what you lot were all saying at the start of the season, and its still the same squad.

  • Comment number 15.

    How can beating a completely out-of-form Chelsea team who has not won in 7 games and 3:0 to Sunderland be interpreted as maturity for Arsenal team. Pls enjoy your victory but it doesn't transcend to better days for you.

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    i hope Gunners don't show complecency aganist wigan.This has been Arsenal's worst problem always.They should approach Wigans game with he same mentality and hunger as in chelsea's game,otherwise it will be a party ruined by a defeat or draw at Wigan.

  • Comment number 18.

    One win and Arsenal are now "mature"?

    One win and Arsenal can now win "big games"?

    Arsene Wenger really is special. As a Manchester United fan I hope he stays at Arsenal for a long long time.

    As far as the article, I really think you're flattering Arsenal. Chelsea were a punching bag, and not in the same sense as Sunderland at OT two days ago. It's only a matter of time before they are exposed AGAIN and Wenger comes up with new excuses.

  • Comment number 19.

    I think you should consider writing a coming-of-age article template.

  • Comment number 20.

    Phil

    Would you like to know which team in the top 5 is the only one who's title credentials you haven't written about?

    Yup that would be the team that are top by 2 points with a game in hand.

    They've not "laid down any markers" despite beating the team you rave about today but they are top and will likely take some shifting!

    So when you going to write about their title chances? Or will we have to wait till after the "Liverpool can still win it" article?

  • Comment number 21.

    When A Boy holds hands with a Girl,He is not yet a Man .

  • Comment number 22.

    It's been a long time coming but finally the Arsenal squad is beginning to click. Many have doubted the 'project' that Wenger has endeavoured to set upon since we took the decision to move to a new stadium and take a more frugal approach to squad building (that involved developing youth talent as opposed to investing in experience) but the fruits of his labours were on show last night.

    I won't lie and say my patience hasn't been pushed to the absolute limits with this club but I have always kept faith in Wenger and his model for success. The payoff for watching our attractive brand of football has been a lack of silverware and abundance of frustration but hopefully this will soon come to an end. We haven't won anything yet, although I am fully confident we can win the Carling Cup as a minimum this season.

    Arsenal never do things the easy way, hence our very difficult route to Champions League progression, via Barcelona. If we lose, at the very least it will be a test of how much closer we've come this season (and I believe it will be much tighter this year), and it will clear up our schedule somewhat in the latter part of the season. If we win, we have nobody else to fear. Fingers crossed.

    On to Chelsea, it's no big surprise to see their form dipping. Not that their players aren't good enough, the fact remains they didn't have the energy of our younger players, the spine of their team are all 30+. These big names were always going to run out of steam eventually. Where are their replacements? This is the problem with a business model that relies upon spending high prices on big names, the youth policy is overlooked to an extent, and at many clubs a lot of debt is incurred as a result. With the Arsenal way of running a club, despite having to wait a very long time for things to happen, the team is now made largely from a conveyor belt of talent, where we have seen young players like Fabregas, Bendtner, Diaby, Song etc establish themselves as important components of the squad, followed by players like Walcott, Gibbs and Wilshere. More will surely soon emerge in the seasons to follow. Of course you will always need to supplement the squad with the odd buy here and there, but in a cost efficient manner that keeps the business side ticking over nicely.

    Anyway, merry Christmas Gunners, here's to a happy New Year!

  • Comment number 23.

    There are many reasons why the results were as there were last night. Most important is that Arsenal played a pressing game and packed their midfield with energy. I have never seen them do this before. Many times they have a lethargic side when not in possession of the ball, with players like Denilson etc. If that is 'maturing' then Wenger has it spot on and they could be real title contenders.

    The other reason is that, looks like the development cycles of the two teams have crossed. Everyone knows that Chelsea are on their way down, and Arsenal can only get better. Just as one might say that this Arsenal side could not have had a chance against the Chelsea of old, one could have said that the Chelsea side of some years ago had no chance against the Arsenal of old.

    The third reason is that Florent Malouda was punching above his weight by 2 stone earlier during the season, plus Chelsea had a relatively easy run of games. Malouda has regressed to his average and inevitably Chelsea have a tougher run. It is all about timing.

    What is worrying is that Chelsea have let its cycle take its full course. The Chelsea starting team of yesterday had 6 players over 30. At the begining of the season they released Ballack, Deco and Carvalho, and replace them with - nothing! If Abramovic has the appetite to start the second cycle of spending 1 billion pounds, which I doubt he has, Chelsea will find itself in a Citeh situation, minus the fact that Chelsea will have already hired and fired most of the top managers in the game. Finding a manager might be just as challanging as finding another Chelsea team that is just like the Chelsea team of the 'old'.

  • Comment number 24.

    i was afraid of drogba,i still am for arsenal but that was a good win,i thought chelsea would coast to the title .conceding 2 goals in the first 10 games is insane,arsenal need new centrebacks and a hardman midfielder,eg viera,keane no one will ever be as good as them,but someone with bottle who is not scared of getting hurt or hurting someone,cattermole is one that springs to mind.our attack is brilliant we have had the most on target shots in the league by a considerable margin,but want to dance it in

    well done johan,and the rest of the boys keep it up and we will catch man u and beat them to the finish line,player to player we are a better team,yes thier defence is on the mountain top but attack minded players we are supreme,berbatov has scored the vast majority off his goals in 3 games,rooney is a 1 season wonder after being ronaldos "plaything" for years,nani is 1600x more intelligent than wenger so it is all good,please dont let us down on wednesday against wigan (still having nightmares about last season 0-2 up lost 3-2 ,dont want to talk about)

  • Comment number 25.

    "Arsenal & City to fight it out for 2nd spot, and Arsenal to fight it out with Spurs for 4th by the looks of things."

    How's that meant to work?

  • Comment number 26.

    I agree with Phil. The win was comprehensive. I have always believed that Arsenal are a better team than Chelsea and even in the matches that Chelsea won Arsenal had more chances but the difference yesterday was that half of the chances were converted. It could have been 7 or 8. Anybody blaming Fabianski for anything does not know football. He dealt with every thing thrown at him calmly including the crosses. The goal was not his fault, Arsenal tried to play offside and they paid for it. You can't play offside from a freekick in that position. They understood that and never tried doing that again. Djourou was immense because when Koscielny was caught out of position Djourou was always there. I wonder why Wenger played Squillachi ahead of him. I saw Chelsea's bench and they didn't even have an established striker on the bench and when I looked at Arsenal's bench I conclude that if Arsenal loses the match they should blame themselves. Arsenal will have no reason again for not winning a trophy. I don't want to hear that Chelsea are on a bad run. They are paying the price of buying established players and developing none. Arsenal and United are reaping the rewards of giving youth a chance. I believe that like Barcelona Arsenal will dominate the premier league if they just win a trophy even if it is the carling cup.

  • Comment number 27.

    I think it is all looking very cozy for Man U. They have played through their bad spell without losing a game (could they be the next invincibles?). Arsenal are great to watch and I'd love to see that style of football rewarded with the title but, they are too hot and cold and if they had drew at home with Spurs and beaten Newcastle and West Brom (which in paper they should have had), they would be well clear at the top.

  • Comment number 28.

    I have to laugh at the bitter Mancs. Don't worry about Arsenal, you did not dominate us the last time we played you won by a flukey goal after packing midfield at home and playing all your water carriers and one up front - that tells me SAF fears us like no other team in the Premier League.

    WE are happy being where we are, you won't be able to do to Chelsea what we managed to do so convincingly - even if they are below par at the moment, there is nothing special about Man U at all and you will drop points, as will Arsenal and Chelsea. The thing is, I see Man U dropping more points than Arsenal until the end of the season.

    Arsenal have their top players back, we have a vibrant team full of quality and plenty to be excited about. Anderson ? Carrick ? PAH. We will see who has the quality ..... I can't wait to see Man U fall flat on their faces again.

  • Comment number 29.

    Who knows what goes on behind the scenes and whether Wilkins' departure was the catalyst. However, Ferreira was dreadful (can only assume Bosingwa isn't fully fit) and he shouldn't be considered again. Ramirez just can't cut it, Mikel not good enough and Malouda is downright lazy.
    Schweinsteiger needed asap and that's just the start.
    Don't blame Ancelotti
    Arsenal were OK but Chelsea were truly awful

  • Comment number 30.

    #11. Captain Bluebeard......what history?

  • Comment number 31.

    I must be honest, I had this down as a Chelsea win; such have they dominated Arsenal since 2008. Yet with Chelsea now 7 games without a win these are worrying times for both the fans and Ancelotti. As a United fan I was watching the match lastnight hoping for a draw and prior to the match thought an Arsenal win would be better than a Chelsea win. Having reflected on this I'm not so sure.

    Having seen Arsenal crumble at the dying embers of the premier league season time after time it is hard to feel as threatened by them as Chelsea, who between us (United) and Chelsea have now won it 6 occasions on the trot. However, I believe there could be 2 key factors that could effectively aid Arsenal's title challenege significantly.

    A - Of the 4 remaining teams in the league cup Arsenal are by far the strongest and heavy favourites to win it, ending their trophy barron run of 5 years with this trophy in March could be a strong catalyst for them to push on in the latter stages of the season.

    B - In the Champions League last 16 you have Barcelona, and without meaning to sound disrespectful in the slightest, you're simply not going to win that. It's one thing beating a Chelsea side that haven't won in 7 and then beating Barcelona. In comparison to Chelsea and United's european fixtures, one would expect both to qualify for the quater finals, which adds to fixture congestion, and given there record of appearing in the CL semi finals prior to last season, it is likely that one of them will atleast make that stage.

    So yes, Arsenal are a serious threat to the title this season, and shouldn't be written off just because they have lacked the mental capacity and squad strength to finish the job off at the latter stages of the season in previous years.

  • Comment number 32.

    irvingscholar wrote:
    #11. Captain Bluebeard......what history?
    ---------------------------------
    Hardly the comment of a scholar.

  • Comment number 33.

    Man Utd and Chelsea have had almost opposite starts to the season. Chelsea had an absolute flyer--they were brilliant whilst Utd could only draw games. Now the roles have reversed. Arsenal have been stuck in the middle--its now time for them to really nail down a proper title challenge at long last. But it must be said that there are still problems in the Gunners squad--against a fully-firing chelsea team I think the score would have been a lot closer.

  • Comment number 34.

    @12 we beat Fulham after Wilkins got sacked.

    I love the excitables that spout stuff they have no clue about....

  • Comment number 35.

    Oh yes Kalou not good enough either.
    You shouldn't need 22 or 25 top players, 15 good players should get you through a season. Maybe Chelsea don't have 15 but some of those first 11 should hang their heads in shame.
    Can;t see much money being made available and who is available. Don't think Aguerro, Pato will want to join Chelsea. They need a couple of English players who will run their socks off or the afore mentioned Schweinsteiger and take the longer view on buying top quality strikers and wingers.
    It tells you everything when you see a centre half - Terry - coming out of the back four to tackle in midfield because the midfield aren't tackling. I know Chelsea like to drop off but look how Arsenal pressed in midfield.
    Also if you noticed when the Chelsea back four had the ball there was no movement whatsoever for them.
    Arsenal did work hard and Nasri passes and moves. Two major differences between the two teams.

  • Comment number 36.

    Phil I want to point this out to you. This is the first time since Adebayor left that Arsenal have played a big game with both Fabregas and Van Persie (our two most influential players) starting. Indeed this is the first time we have played a big match with our strongest line up (bar Vermalaen). That was the difference in the match. Even the Barca match we were never close to full strength.

  • Comment number 37.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 38.

    28. At 09:44am on 28 Dec 2010, the HotHead - Eboue's Publicist and Advisor wrote:
    I have to laugh at the bitter Mancs. Don't worry about Arsenal, you did not dominate us the last time we played you won by a flukey goal after packing midfield at home and playing all your water carriers and one up front - that tells me SAF fears us like no other team in the Premier League.

    WE are happy being where we are, you won't be able to do to Chelsea what we managed to do so convincingly - even if they are below par at the moment, there is nothing special about Man U at all and you will drop points, as will Arsenal and Chelsea. The thing is, I see Man U dropping more points than Arsenal until the end of the season.

    Arsenal have their top players back, we have a vibrant team full of quality and plenty to be excited about. Anderson ? Carrick ? PAH. We will see who has the quality ..... I can't wait to see Man U fall flat on their faces again.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    I have been reading that for nigh on over a decade, seems like about twice as long as the last time your lot won anything.. Who is bitter? Here is a fact about football, what counts is winning. Not how you do it, or losing , or drawing, but winning. You win the league by amassing points.. Get it? United have more points than Arsenal. It's your attitude that has Arsenal with nothing for 5 years, because you are content with not good enough to be champions...pity.

  • Comment number 39.

    Is this a sign of a change of guard? Possible, but I'm not so sure yet.

    Arsenal, for all their much vaunted style and attacking flair, still have a core of blancmange. The goal they conceded was amateurish and nicely illustrated the destabilising weakness they still possess at CB and GK. They may yet turn out to be the best of a pretty weak bunch at seasons end, but they're still a pale imitiation of the 2004 Invincibles, or even the CL final side of 2006. IF Wenger invests wisely in January they may win the title at a canter, but the fact remains though that they are at least two or three World Class players away from being a top quality side.

    Manchester United have been consistent but unspectacular so far. No doubt however that in a season not as weak as this one they'd be nowhere near title contention. There's a dearth of quality coming through the youth ranks, a lack of investment coming from the Glazers (although given Fergie's recent transfer record that may be a blessing), and as with Chelsea a lot of their key performers are the wrong side of 30. They're probably still just about the favourites for the title by dint of experience and squad depth, but it won't be a vintage year by any means.

    Chelsea are seemingly in trouble. Roman's recent tightening of the purse strings has left them with an ageing squad and not much interest from above in rectifying that. Unless Abramovich does choose to start spending again to try and get them punching above their weight as a club (and he'll have to compete with Man City for players now), then it's hard to avoid the conclusion that over the next few years they'll revert back to being what they always were. A cup team.

  • Comment number 40.

    Arsenal will not win the league this year, a win against a poor side, at home, does not make you champions. Arsene 'i didnt see it' wenger says the same thing every year - that they have the talent but need the winning mentality, but they always fail to provide the silverwear he needs.

    Ancelotti is apparently under pressure for winning the double in his first season and overall this season hasnt been bad. Every team has a dip in form. 'I didnt see it' hasnt won anything for nearly 6 years and acts like this is his 1st season in charge and they are a work in progress.

    My money would go on chelski finishing above boring Arsenal any day.

    Nicholas Bendtner sums up Arsenal, high opinion of themselves, over confident, no substance, all mouth and will not be winning anything for sometime.

  • Comment number 41.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 42.

    I'm sick of hearing about Arsenal finally maturing as a team. There have been false dawns for about 3 seasons now, they're hardly a team of 18 year olds are they?! They have plenty of experience and shame on them for taking so long to beat Chelsea, 11 matches without a win was it? One win doesn't suddenly make them an amazing team, they're grossly inconsistent and to me still play airy-fairy fancy football without a plan B that doesn't get results when it matters most. Another false dawn if you ask me...

  • Comment number 43.

    I don't get it, if ManUre fans really think they've allready got it stitched up then why are they all on this blog worrying themselves silly over it? In there heart of hearts they know the one nil win they scraped at home against us wasn't nearyly as impressive as this.

  • Comment number 44.

    First of all, congrats to arsenal. That was a good display and one that should get their tails up and give them some belief. I they can follow his win up with a couple of wins they will certainly feel like they have a good chance especially as they have had most of their tricky away games already.

    I wouldn't be too quick to write off Chelsea though there is probably too big a gap for them to be champions again (barring a similar collapse by man u) they are one of the few teams in the league that can go on a lengthy winning streak. While they are back from injury players like Terry and lampard will need a few more games to get back into the groove.

    The problem for Chelsea is going to be the transfer window, there is generally little value in January as the better players are cup tied and if chelsea are going to now prioritise the CL then they will have to do it with what they have available.

    The biggest problem for them will be man city, in the same way that Chelsea were the problem for man u when abramovich arrived in that city will just bid for any Chelsea target and while they sit near the top it might be easier to make the case to the better players. The very least they will do is inflate the price of players and if RA is saving his money to put towards the 2018 WC then he might not be willing to go all out for what is required.

  • Comment number 45.

    To collie21 You say "I am missing something, how does a squad that wins the league, half a season later, look threadbare? Is there a massive injury list? Or have they sold off all their players?"

    This is my point. It is not the squad that won the Premier League. Ballack, Cole and (most significantly of all) Carvalho all gone. We can debate the various merits of their individual effectiveness but the squad has been weakened in numbers and also in calibre because they have not been replaced by players or equal, or more importantly superior, quality.

    Even title squads needs strengthening or rebuilding otherwise Manchester United would still have Cantona, Hughes and Kanchelskis up front. The squad is not as good as last season and I can't believe Ancelotti is happy about it.

    And, without presuming too much, I suspect plenty of Chelsea fans feel the same. Let me know your thoughts.

    Arsenal fans. Let's hear from you on your team's performance. Wenger talked about the "mannish dimension" and how they will no longer be bullied. Do you feel you came of age last night or not?

    I have been accused of being over-critical of Arsenal, but having seen them lose so many of these games and not win a trophy for more than five years I feel the criticism was justified.

    Not last night and as I have said I will always be happy to give them credit where and when it is due. Arsenal were excellent. Too fast, too subtle and too good for a laboured Chelsea.

    Arsenal fans...do you now trust your team more or do they still have to convince you? Again, let me know your thoughts.

  • Comment number 46.

    I thought Djourou was immense tonight, he has had his injury worrys in the past but iv always seen him as a possible starting centre back for us, that shows ho

  • Comment number 47.

    Some peoplehave questioned wenger but his philsophy of football and his decision making shows that he is the best manager in the world, bar none,mourinho does not play attractive football and has shown the world how to play a boring game with his 2 holding midfielders but he wil b undone at real becos he does not know how to control an outgoing attacking team, ferguson has been at utd 4 ages if he wer 2 change he wud fail guarenteed wenger has been 2 japan and worked in france ferguson has stayed in britain,wenger has built his arsenal team whereas quardiola was handed messi xavi and iniesta who were already playing the passing game at barca, wenger inhereted graham's long ball arsenal team and made adams pass the ball, no manager can change the philosophy of a team like he has done

  • Comment number 48.

    As a neutral, I think Man U are pretty much a certainty now. The inherent poor attitude running through some of this Arsenal team(Fabregas, Van Persie) is bound to surface in harder games. I hope im wrong though as i think the Gunners have huge potential . Wouldn't get carried away with last night as Chelsea were awful and at this stage will be lucky to be in Top 4............they badly lack a true midfield player in the Fabregas mould and im not sure will they find one or are they even looking

  • Comment number 49.

    What gauntlet? Where? Now is not the time for laying down gauntlets. If necessary, gauntlets should only be produced around the end of March. The only things that should be laid down at this time of year are snoods.

  • Comment number 50.

    A good win for the Arsenal and a much needed win at that. I dont care what other people are saying, you can only play against what is in front of you.
    I wish Gibbs a speedy recovery because again last night, if there is a vulnerability in the Arsenal back 4, it has to be Clichy. 2 yrs ago, against Sp*rs, he dallied whilst on the ball just out on the left touchline, slipped, lost it, and Sp*rs went on to make it 4-3. That gave them the impetus to come back again and make it 4-4.
    He done the same again yesterday, lost it, but this time the defence covered his mistake.
    So come back Gibbs, we have cover for you in the form of Tom Cruise.
    Will Wengerbe tempted to sell Clichy,Eboue and Denilson next month and bring in Mertesacker and another defensive midfielder.
    I dont know!.
    Only Arsene knows.

  • Comment number 51.

    Arsenal fans. Let's hear from you on your team's performance. Wenger talked about the "mannish dimension" and how they will no longer be bullied. Do you feel you came of age last night or not?


    ------------

    Yes. Right from the outset you could definitely feel there was a particular hunger and a determination to win that match yesterday that hasn't been there in previous encounters with Chelsea.

  • Comment number 52.

    write chelsea off at your peril .they will still win the title just got 5.1 on betfair

  • Comment number 53.

    This coming of age thing is ridiculous. I'm a neutral and all I saw was Arsenal taking advantage of a very out of form Chelsea at home. They didn't take Chelsea apart, in fact Chelsea looked by far more dangerous during the 20 mins or so they decided to play.
    Honestly I love watching Arsenal but the reaction today has made me think they are more immature they they were yesterday.

    Enjoy your day in the sun, that's all it is.

  • Comment number 54.

    I see McNulty still can't resist putting "Arsenal" and "exposed cracks" in the same headline.

    I bet he can't wait til a new player turns up called "Chocolate Starfish".

  • Comment number 55.


    " do you now trust your team more or do they still have to convince you "


    That in many ways sums up the real issue!

    One game, and everyone seems focused and has a desire! the next game? well who really knows what to expect, this is where I feel Wenger and his
    assistents have been very weak to say the least. This was clearly seen in the CL!!!!!!!! and of course the reason why we failed to secure Top Spot and now face Barca. had Effort and Application been appiled properly throughout then we would have been looking forward to more coffers in the bank via progression to the next round. as it is they have now made life very difficult for themselves and Wenger needs to take full responisibilty for that!

    The PL is of course much different. IMO there are in fact a few other teams that are well within a decent shout at the title, and yes I include City and Spurs. The Title will NOT BE GOING TO CHELSEA THATS FORE SURE!!!!!!

    Wenger now needs to kick on as it were, and ensure the same effort and application is shown in all! games not just the Chelsea or Man U ones.

    We beat Chelsea? so what! we should have beaten them before! we lost to another flukey effort at OT and of course the failure, yes failure to " turn up " again. However this little matter can be resolved come the return match and i am sure many mancs will trudge out of the Emirates and back to Surrey having lost the Title! due to a master class from Arsenal.

    However before then there is a little matter of Wigan to deal with.

  • Comment number 56.

    CHELSEA KNOW HOW IT FEELS NOW.

    They are just blaming this result on 'no Terry or lampard' but we've had to deal with bad injuries to key players (verminator, fabregas, RVP) for some time now. The chelsea fans that gloated when Barcelona beat a barely playable arsenal and then find excuses for a 3-0 loss at Sunderland are idiots.

    As for man united, it's nice to get back to the early noughts with us 2 for the title and Chelsea 4th... but man u are still favourites, by a long way.

    BUT THEY ARE NOT CERTS YET. Chelsea were 'definitely gonna win the league' and now look.

  • Comment number 57.

    Chelsea arent a bad side they are just an old side. Their most influential players are in their 30's now and that catches up with any side over a season. Most of their stars played in a double winning side & then went to a World Cup, they will be be playing too many games for their bodies to fully recover.

    Their success was based on a physical, pressing style. They looked unable to move across the pitch as a unit like they did under Jose & Carlo last season. Have you ever seen a Chelsea side as spread out as they are in the last 2 months? There are gaps all over the pitch which they simply didnt allow in their pomp.

    Anelka is an enigma, Drogba has been ill, an illness which Kolo Toure never really recovered from, Lampard has missed games for the first time in 100 years & Terry is not getting any fitter as he ages.

    Carlo can be criticised for nuying Zhirkov & Ramires, £30 million could have been better allocated but if the club are cost cutting then you cant expect to sustain your levels any longer.

    Arsenal were better in pressing the ball higher up the pitch but still dont entirley convince & lets see how they cope against Barca in Februaury, that will be their true test.

    If they do got out to Barcelona that may help them if they can focus on the league & I do see them getting closer this time but that is mainly due to Chelsea going backwards & Utd not being as clinical as in the past (despite what their fans say).

    I expect Ancelotti to be given the bullet in January if things dont improve as Roman isnt known to balme himself for his clubs failings.

    Unless he is prepared to spend £50 million plus this winter then things will continue the way they are and maybe even a top 4 finish could be under threat.

  • Comment number 58.

    If Arsenal play like they did today there should be no reason why they cannot push on to win the title.

    However this also ends up being one of the oldest and biggest problems that Arsenal have. If they approach every single game they play in the same manner they did against Chelsea no matter who the opposition is week in and week out, then it makes it very hard for teams to beat them.

    The constant amount of pressing and the team discipline has to be consistent only then will we know whether Arsenal have finally matured

  • Comment number 59.

  • Comment number 60.

    Speaking as a Gooner I still think we have more to prove in the big games, as has been mentioned before, Chelsea are still on a bad run of form and will have to add reinforcements next month.

    Hopefully we can build on this performance and get a good run of momentum going in the second part of the season because that is what we will need if we are to overtake Manure, history tells us Bacon Face sides are generally pretty relentless post-christmas. However we have yet to play them in the return fixture and Chelsea have yet to play them at all so there is still the possibility of points dropped.

    RVP is seriously lacking in match practise but he will come good, Djourou could well save our season from a defensive point of view - Squillaci is almost like Silvestre MkII,

  • Comment number 61.

    And people are saying 'this means nothing cause Chelsea were bad' yeah well CHELSEA WERE BAD AND ARSENAL WERE GOOD that clearly means we've almost overtaken Chelsea as united's main challenger.

  • Comment number 62.

    this blog really has no value.. waiting for Arsenal to beat Man Utd orChelsea and then writing a piece on their "maturity". What does it mean for Arsenal to reach their maturity? what's to say their maturity is even good enough?? Is Fabianski's 'maturity' going stop them conceding flappy goals?

    A number of Arsenal plays have reached full maturity (Arshavin, Cesc, possibly Nasri but it's too early to put a cap on how far he can go, RVP), the ones that have yet to do so, might never do so and even when they do, are most likely still not good enough. The game against Man Utd is the better gauge of Arsenal's title credentials, not this one!!!

  • Comment number 63.

    On another note, some Arsenal posts have been claiming Arsenal won because Arshavin was dropped......personally I think they're nuts and he would have had a field day last night.

  • Comment number 64.

    Re Hothead,

    Man utd have played one up front home and away from years against the better sides - Clearly at home to Liverpool doesn't count!
    Also unless my eyes deceived me I only saw RVP on his own last night.
    Good old Arsenal hypocrites will fall flat on their face as usual. Reckon we could give you a ten point head start and you'd still manage to cock it up.
    Looking forward to playing at the Emirates where we will soak up your powder puff attack and blow that awful defence and keeper away - for preview see last season and the Champs league semi final.
    You can pretend all you like but you win nothing with a crap keeper and defence - FACT

  • Comment number 65.

    At 10:58am on 28 Dec 2010, PGB Addick wrote

    ------------------------------------

    I agree 100%

    I also have noticed how many of our surporters seem to be knocking him.
    From what I see he works hard at the job he is good at doing, ok that might not include defensive duties, but he was not purchased for that reason and we should have defenders who do thier Job. As another poster pointed out Clichy was again guilty of dwelling on the bal and loseing possession in key areas. Rosisky? when he came on? same problem, easyly brushed aside.

    I think Arshavin has done very well and anyways the guy deserves a rest.

    Bendtner is utter rubbish both in his role and most other matters relating to " team " effort he without doubt needs to be shown the door.

  • Comment number 66.

    To be fair on Chelsea they have had some bad injuries that have left them out of sorts. They have been on a terrible run loosing 3-0 at home to Sunderland would have been inconceivable last season or at any time recently, (no offense meant to a very Sunderland who are currently a strong side), but this victory ahas more to do with a bad run for Chelsea than a show of strength from Arsenal, but as has already been said we will see what form Arsenal are really in when they face Barcelona soon.

  • Comment number 67.

    Why are all the Man Utd fans on here so quick to dismiss Arsenal`s performance last night?

    "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

  • Comment number 68.

    Seven weeks - that's a long moment Carlo. I don't know what all the fuss is about. We beat a poor, one dimensional Chelsea. Ancelotti, the BBC (Mr McNulty excepted) and Chelsea supporters, who must be smarting a little today, can try to rewrite last nights match but the facts are; Arsenal won the game without ever really breaking into a sweat, they could have scored more. Chelsea look like they have about four players that are interested, players that have reached their 'best by' dates, and nothing coming through the ranks. They didn't even start to play until after converting from Drog's free-kick. I'm not sure any Arsenal supporter would claim that on the back of last nights result we will win the title but on form so far this season Arsenal are not a million miles away from the current table-toppers MUFC. We have poblems with central defenders, although JD owned Drogba last night and our third choice gk would appear to be the best of the lot but on the plus side, we have players coming back and goals from pretty much all over the pitch, We have a great squad. I would put money on it that the league can only be won by one of the two best teams in the EPL, MUFC and AFC. Last seasons title was lost on more than one occasion rather than won. I personally think that United look solid and SAF is way too experienced to let his team lose the title again this time around but I also think that AW must be feeling pretty good today.

  • Comment number 69.

    I wasn't suprised Chelsea conceded 2 more goals last nite
    The fact is that Ancelotti made a tactical blunder last nite
    one would think he would've taken off Lampard for Rami not immediately after the interval but after some more mins played cos frankly Lampard was just a mere shadow of himself
    Mikel doesn't score or attack, yes!!
    But without him standing in front of Chel's centre halfs they are always prone to make mistakes and at that those Essien is likely to play in the holding midfield where he doesn't have the chance to do some stuffs upfront
    Whether am heard or not Mikel is the midfield General in key times and he has the ability to hold the ball and distribute it when the other midfield players are marked out
    once again he proved Ancelotti wrong

  • Comment number 70.

    Oh you Arsenal haters..stuff it!

    Absent Alex, that was Chelsea's full squad out there today that got beat and beaten well by Arsenal. But for lackadaisical finishing by Nasri and RVP, that would have been 5-1. Rather than be big enough to tip your hat to Arsenal, you make excuses: Chelsea was out of form, Chelsea was this, was that! So what? The fact is for the first time really, a fully fit Arsenal first 11 (absent Verma) showed up and played Arsenal football. The beat a full Chelsea squad fair and square. Whether that means they win the title I don't know, but I know for a fact that Man United stands to get a good combative game at Emirates if this team can stay healthy together.

    It is just unfortunate that the key players for Arsenal (RVP, Fabregas, Walcott) all tend to pick up injuries at the same time knocking out three top players (a big hit for any team). But with these three fit and firing, you clearly saw what Arsenal can do. I for one am savoring the victory and I take it all one game at a time.

    Finally, for all of you crowning Man United champions, not so fast. They have not been spectacular (and yes beating a Sunderland side with 5 starters 2-0 is not spectacular). The did deservedly beat Arsenal but just as easily they can drop points. So to hand the trophy to United, as many of you had handed it back to Chelsea after the Match Day 1, is foolhardy! Anyone of City, United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs can win this title IMO. That is the lesson of this season so far!

  • Comment number 71.

    28:İ don't support anybody but why do you come out with such drivel,law of averages say's you are going beat Chelsea at some time and i might add not before time,Man Utd fall flat on their faces when did that last happen? i seem to think they have won the title 3 times out of the last 6 and should have beaten you by far more at Old Trafford because once again on that occasion you bottled it and never turned up, and what did your manager do blamed the pitch,pathetic.You beat a team last night that are totally out of form so well done,however your goalkeeper and defence are are a big problem when you look at the goal you conceded,any one of 5 teams can win the title this season you are one of them that's all.

  • Comment number 72.

    This night will be remembered. Chelsea allowed Arsenal to look world beaters. You expect that a team who are the champions to be able, at least, to put up a fight after they go one goal down. It does explain the home loss by Sunderland 0-3 and the other recent results.

    McNulty confuses politics with sports when he uses the term 'austerity'.
    Austerity, as a term, is used to define a long period of limited expenditure to a country that finds itself in a poor state and has to overcome financial difficulties, oblidge with obligations to other countries and has a target of improving the future. Austerity and football don't mix, especially at a club like Chelsea. Chelsea are loaded, every season, with premiership and champions league cash and, as a club, have been able to break even after the crazy spending some 10 years ago. Austerity what? :)

    Nobody can criticise Abramovic for having cut spendng for years now and is prepared to only pay handsome pay off's to managers?
    Really? Chelsea find themselves in serious danger of losing a lot of revenue from Champions League football, dare I say. Last night it was not a night for Arsenal to be thought of as premiership champions. Only a few days ago a 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford flattered them as they created nothing for 90 minutes and were unable to put a single threat on Man Utd, at Old Trafford. Last night it was pleasant alarm bells for Harry Redknapp and Mancini: the former that Champions League football is viable next season, after all, and the latter that qualification to the Champions League will be easier.

    Chelsea had nothing in the bag to change their approach, last night amd this was not Ancelotti's fault. A long, hard winter is here and it will be a miracle for this team to challenge for top four spot, never mind the premiership. Even Everton, when it comes to needing a youngster to come in a match and help the club get a result, have the capacity to bring in a Rosling, a Rodwell who can add something positive for their club. Chelsea are missing such a nucleus and they haven't been renouned of having it, anyway. Last night they looked so fragile. They almost looked like a surprise-gift, for any opposition. It's almost sad to view such a rapid decline.

    I don't want to look as though I overlook Arsenal's resilience and will to win. It was a match of two halves for them. In the first half they produced nothing until an opportunistic goal at the end of the half. While watching the match, I was thinking that it had gone almost two and a half hours, in two big matches for them, that they looked toothless. In the second half they looked like world champions, playing Chelsea's ghosts.

    It's a pleasant Christmas for SAF, Redknapp and Mancini. SAF will have less to worry about, Mancini must surely believe now that a Champions League football position can be cemented, while Redknapp must be thinking that they don't have to overcome City but Chelsea to keep playing Champions League football.

    Does this represent a prime indicator of a change of guard completion of what we know as top four of English football? Time will show.
    Are Arsenal the threat for that elussive 19th title that Manchester United are seeking? What I can guess is that even the ears of SAF are laughing out of joy on this thought.

  • Comment number 73.

    Impressive perfomance going forward by arsenal, looked vibrant and technically good. However, once chelsea actually got at their defence they looked shaky. God only knows what Koscielny will do once he sees messi standing in front of him....

  • Comment number 74.

    This was an excellent win for Arsenal. Yes, people will say Chelsea are out of form blah, blah; but do I really care? the answer is no! They have well and truly been exposed by our pace, passing and team play of the highest order. This was Chelsea we were playing, no small club and we handled them perfectly. Wenger got the game plan right and for the bigger teams we shouldn't sit off them, but get right into their faces, which we did last night and was hugely successful. I hope we can learn from this game and take it to Barcelona and Man u when they come visiting are back yard next year!

    All in all a very happy and hung over Gooner!

  • Comment number 75.

    LOL

    Someone actually predicted the "Wenger Lays Down Gauntlet" slogan for this blog on live text last night!

  • Comment number 76.

    Will we now witness a revival of the Ferguson/Wenger bitter rivalry that we have been missing for some seasons?

  • Comment number 77.

    Normally I dont like to criticise, because i enjoy reading football blogs and articles, but seriously come on, it's like a opinion yo-yo with arsenal. Lost against Man United 2 weeks ago and they're still boys, win against Chelsea and surprise surprise they're now men.
    I think if Chelsea game against United had not been called off they would have been in serious trouble by the end of last night's result, but they will have to get their act together because they cant go on like this during the busiest period of football in the season and still expect to win the league at the end of it.

    Well done to Arsenal, important win that will break their supposed psychological disadvantage against the two big teams, but i'm sure their fans will want to see whether they can repeat that when chelsea have got their act together

  • Comment number 78.

    Carlo should stop playing Malouda, Drogba and Anelka at the same time, they are spent forces and should be used sparingly, but unfortunately he doesn't have any options although I noticed a bit of brilliance from Kakuta. If we can't buy this January then it will be better to struggle through this season with the likes of Sturridge, Mchearan and Kakuta as regular squad players with only one of the above mentioned players being on the pitch at any point in time. This strategy will make the ageing squad to sit up and bring out any goodies left in them, we saw a hungry and angry drogba come from the bench to get a goal against tottenham, that is the way to go. But if we can get 3-4 tested squad players from other teams in the premier league I see us still making a good challenge for the title or at least putting up a good performance in the champions league. BUT IF WE CONTINUE WITH THIS SQUAD OF EXHAUSTED PLAYERS AND THIS COACH, WE WILL FINISH IN THE LOWER HALF OF THE TABLE. I suspect that this same set of players will play better under Hiddinks, so Carlo should take a close look at himself and his squad, if we can't attack freely as we used to then maybe we should make it difficult for the opposition to score...

  • Comment number 79.

    52. At 10:46am on 28 Dec 2010, pb wrote:

    write chelsea off at your peril .they will still win the title just got 5.1 on betfair

    --------------------------------------------------------------

    You (nearly) contradict yourself - there's a reason you got 5.1 to 1 on Chelsea.

    There's also a reason why Arsenal are on offer at the same genorous price.

    The book could be closed soon.

  • Comment number 80.

    (generous - sorry)

  • Comment number 81.

    No. 78.....

    These are the sorts of comments I've been laughing at. Malouda's definitely off the boil, but to say Drogba is past it is laughable. He's looking as sharp as ever, he's having no luck and is not getting any service.

  • Comment number 82.

    A somewhat hollow victory for Arsenal last night against a team so demoralised right now that any half-decent motivated Premier club will beat them.

  • Comment number 83.

    "this was the game that transformed arsenal from "boys to men"?

    how about they try against an in-form chelsea team? short term journalism in abundance"

    Think thats about as good as they get going by the run theyre on. When we took on Chelsea and UTD we had a host of players unfit, Fabregas and RVP being two that spring to mind. With those two back and Arshavin finally relegated to the subs bench we dont look a pushover any more

  • Comment number 84.

    I think what's important to remember about Arsenal is they've been blighted by injuries to key players over the last few seasons. So Wenger had to add good players to fill in, and now the Arsenal squad is coming back to full strength, you can see a depth there which wasn't present with the players they had out.

    As well as Arsenal played yesterday, I thought Chelsea were awful. When they flooded forward on the break, Arsenal looked vulnerable, but Chelsea consistently picked the wrong pass. I agree they're weaker than last year, but I also think their squad looks jaded - in the last two seasons, in FA Cup games or unimportant CL matches, Ancelotti has a habit of picking a strong side. Rotation is important when you're challenging for trophies on multiple fronts, and I'm not sure Ancelotti has mastered that yet.

    Calling for Ancelotti's head is ludicrous. As was the sacking of Ray Wilkins. I also think players like Malouda, Drogba and Anelka are struggling to hit the standards they set last season - and if Chelsea are to mount a title challenge, which is perfectly possible, they'll need those players to be at their best.

  • Comment number 85.

    Is it really a coming of age of Arsenal????

    they beat a STRUGGLING chelsea side AT HOMME with Drogba off form and lampard coming back from injury

    the only thing this win highlights is how poor they've been against the big 4 and chelsea in the past

  • Comment number 86.

    If you did a poll of clubs at this moment in time, most of them would be wishing it was their turn to play Chelsea next.

  • Comment number 87.

    "God only knows what Koscielny will do once he sees messi standing in front of him...."

    Probably do exactly what hes done with Drogba and Torres this season, add them to the pile of top strikers hes had in his pocket or 90 minutes

  • Comment number 88.

    The usual knee jerk nonsense from Phil! Arsenal have lost 5 games this season. They beat a Chelsea side who haven't won in 7 and are in dire form. So suddenly they have matured overnight? Get real Phil.

    The benchmark was 2 weeks ago at Old Trafford.....and they came-up well short. I see Arsenal fans now want to describe it as a flukey goal in a 1-0 defeat! Arsenal should have lost that by 2 or 3 and had no idea how to deal with Utd tactically.

    Revisit the Arsenal threads on 606 after the match and they are all saying as much AND, in some cases, starting to question whether Wenger is the right man for the job!

    As I said, ridiculous knee-jerk reactions to a single game.

  • Comment number 89.

    LMAO at the Chelsea rant-boys.

  • Comment number 90.

    Not enough snow to save CSKA London this week then.

  • Comment number 91.

    LOL at comment #4 by foonyroo.

    Is it our fault that Chelsea were not in form yesterday? Come to terms with the fact that Arsenal won it by adopting tactics. And for the first time I have seen Wenger doing tactical changes into starting XI. Theo Walcott in place of Arshavin was wishful thinking on part of Wenger.

  • Comment number 92.

    Hindsight is 20:20 Phil. You and just about every other journalist were backing Chelsea at the start of the season. Not a mention of lack of squad depth.....Carvalho, Ballack, Deco, Cole and Beletti all considered past their seel-by date and no loss.

    If I remember rightly it was Utd's and Arsenal's strength in depth that was the issue.

    So was that bad judgement on your part or have I got it wrong?

  • Comment number 93.

    Does bad days really mean Chelsea are out of the way for the title??!??
    certain no!!!
    Even Alex knows that the only threat they have is Chelsea
    leave the match at Emirates aside
    I still believe this whole scenario would come down to who goes home with the title either with 1 - 2 point gap or goals difference and that is Man U and Chelsea
    and then it would still be Arsenal sitting comfortably on the 3rd row and watch Tottenham and Mancity battle for the last Champ lig slot

    Mark my post !!
    The time will come when men will really show they have the heart
    I don't regard Arsenal as "men" till they suprise me by standing clearly above others in the table with a wide margin
    unluckily its 2 early to call them title contenders
    Chelsea would still be there as long as Abra is still at the top there

  • Comment number 94.

    89. At 11:52am on 28 Dec 2010, H Ulike wrote:

    LMAO at the Chelsea rant-boys.

    ---------------------------------------

    Chelsea fans also seem demoralised - not very many up for it here.

  • Comment number 95.

    Phil's tip last year didn't even make a European place - couldn't happen again, could it?

  • Comment number 96.

    "Phil's tip last year didn't even make a European place"


    That explains why they are playing in the UEFA Cup then.

  • Comment number 97.

    Re 88 WordsOfWisdom.

    I would like to add that the 606 blog has frequently enthusiastic reactions from kids playing about while watching football. I don't think it represented the core of Arsenal supporters by any means, at the time.

    Last night was an ideal night for Arsenal, for a simple reason: big teams tend to pack the midfield, lead them out of breath and hit them on the break, with comfort. Chelsea's midfield, though, had a Lampard finding his feet again after a long injury, a clumsy-as-usual Mikel and an Essien who was expected to be at his best and everywhere. And, suddenly, there was no need for the 'only plan A' team to need a second plan.

    While we were watching, in the first half, Fabregas to constantly moan at the referee, asking for yellow cards to be distributed around and Vab Persie diving on every opportunity, Arsenal decided to play football in the second half, because they realised they could. Chelsea had no midfield, last night.

  • Comment number 98.

    Congrats to Arsenal on a job well done!
    Chelsea have an unbalanced squad, which has taken 2 years to be obvious. This has been a result of a lack of proper buying in the last 2-4 years, and no obvious talent coming through the Academy.
    With the departure of Ballack, Carvalho, Belletti, Deco and Cole--all over 30, the sole players in the squad aged between 21 and 26 are Mikel-23, Ramires-23 and Kalou-25,Turnbull-26(nearly) not exactly big hitters!! You are then left with Sturridge-21(just), van aanholt-20,Bruma-19,Kakuta-19,Borini-19 and Mceachran-17. Of the remaining 15 10 are 26-30 and 5 are 30 or over.

    No wonder the squad is described as threadbare!

  • Comment number 99.

    39. At 10:12am on 28 Dec 2010, The Lone Rangel wrote:
    "Manchester United have been consistent but unspectacular so far. No doubt however that in a season not as weak as this one they'd be nowhere near title contention. There's a dearth of quality coming through the youth ranks"

    --------------------------------------------------------------------
    I'm not quite sure what it's like in your world but in mine the "dearth of quality" includes:

    Amos
    Rafael Evans Smalling Fabio

    Bebe Gibson Cleverly Obertan

    Welbeck/Diouf/Macheda/Hernandez

    Cleverly, Welbeck and Diouf are all out on loan and doing well, including scoring for their teams. The rest have all had significant exposure at every level (bar Amos). Rafael and Evans are established and Hernandez is off to a very good start. I could go on to list another half a dozen very promising young players you've never even heard of.....but I think there's enough there to make a mockery of your comment.

    Yes, not all of them will make it but Fergie has invested heavily in youth and their are many very promising players in that list.

    Just so you don't make a mug of yourself in future!

  • Comment number 100.

    Am still high, not from the Mary-j i kissed during the game due to anxiety of loosing to chelski, but high from the win.
    Flappyhandski needs to borrow more confidence from the likes of lloris, Akinfeev(both my fifa 11 targets for arsenal) Casilas & co, hehehe, Sagna is the man behind the wall,
    Laurent (cos his last name is difficult) looked a little shaky but will improve, djorou needs more game time, but hey he bossed Drugba a bit, sometimes i feel clichy is on steroids (he did a good job of returning), who doesn't love Song eh! (starting to be rock solid, like Uncle Song), Jacky-boy needs to work more on ball control, but hey he surprised me by muscling Essien, and C.GAS came to play soccer while Nasri is rewarding the faith we have in him (where is Ben Arfa after he told Nas not to go to Arsenal)welcome back RVP(even tho you blew chances) i forgive you. and then the man of the moment for me...Pretty boy Walcott (lol sounds like names from the mafia flicks, except the walcott part, could be Walcottino in the mafia movies or Walicoto or Walliconte.. anyways) he rocked my socks last night, what did Cole actually say to him last night, Oboy why U dey wahala me like this (Thats in pidgin or broken English, meaning, Dude why are you giving me problems), and the Prof must have started breaking water bottles in the changing room before the game cos i saw motivation. Sorry Chelski,you guys are still sleeping let me know when you wake up, i might need that particular mattress. Adios.

 

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