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Terry among friends as Arsenal fade

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Phil McNulty | 09:00 UK time, Monday, 8 February 2010

John Terry relinquished the captain's armband for the second time in 48 hours - only this time it was with victory as the backdrop rather than a humbling and brutally brief encounter with Fabio Capello.

Capello took only 12 minutes to sack Terry as England captain on Friday, although the business end of the conversation took a lot less by all accounts, but the defender was mostly among friends at Stamford Bridge.

And at the end of a traumatic week, with Terry swamped by allegations of a relationship with the ex-girlfriend of England team-mate Wayne Bridge, he responded to the warmth of his reception and the satisfaction of an easy win against Arsenal by milking the moment.

Terry concluded a one-man lap of honour after the final whistle by throwing his Chelsea shirt into the crowd and carefully presenting a supporter in the Matthew Harding Stand with the armband. Redemption time.

John Terry throws his Chelsea shirt into the crowdJohn Terry throws his Chelsea shirt into the crowd

Arsenal also played their part by flatly refusing to burden Terry with any of those nasty defender's worries, such as the fear that the opposition might have a few shots at goal or exert even the slightest modicum of physical pressure. Perish the thought.

Terry was always going to command the attention, even overshadowing the importance of a game that graphically illustrated yet again why Chelsea are serious title contenders and Arsenal lightweight pretenders.

As expected, he demonstrated that, in this familiar environment, he has the strength of mind to cocoon himself from any personal pressures and focus solely on the game. In a football context, it is an impressive asset and one that will have been carefully noted by Capello as he weighed up his judgement on the England captaincy.

And as Capello repeated in Warsaw after the draw for Euro 2012: "John Terry is still an important player for England. He is one of the most important players for England."

The same applies at his club and Terry emerged to warm applause before the game, but Stamford Bridge's real show of support came in the seconds before kick-off when the stadium resounded to chants of "There's Only One England Captain". The fact that the one England captain is now Rio Ferdinand appeared a matter of supreme indifference. If there were dissenting voices among Chelsea fans, they could not be heard.

And, almost inevitably, Terry was swiftly in the action to set up Didier Drogba's first goal. Freed from the cares of the outside world and in the arena in which he thrives, Terry even felt confident enough to launch a dashing counter-attack in the latter stages of the first half.

It was more of the same after the break - and it was a sign of the relative ease of his afternoon that Terry's only serious moment of discomfort came when Chelsea keeper Petr Cech accidentally clashed with his captain. Terry finished the game with heavy strapping on his left thigh but looked sprightly enough as he took the acclaim at the final whistle.

Carlo Ancelotti, as he was before the game, was fulsome in his praise of Terry. It was Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, however, who arguably offered the most pertinent insight when he said: "I had some players who, when they had private problems, were even stronger on the pitch because it is the place where they get out of it, get away from it."

Terry's ability to comparmentalise events on and off the field will have made Capello's decision - a wholly correct one - to take away the England captaincy even easier. The Italian knows Terry's performance is highly unlikely to be affected by matters around the periphery once the action starts.

Wenger's assessment of Terry was one of his better moments in an after-match briefing that was at best wildly optimistic and at worst delusional. Amid damning this vastly-superior Chelsea side with churlish faint praise - "we didn't get a demonstration of football but they were efficient" - Wenger somehow reached the conclusion that Arsenal were actually the better team.

Not quite sure what the French for "poppycock" is, but Wenger is in serious denial if he believes this to be the case. He quoted statistics about possession and about how Chelsea's greater experience allows them to know where and when to commit fouls. Like his Arsenal team, Wenger will have to do much better than that.

Wenger's flawed analysis was surgically dissected by Ancelotti. "Maybe they did have more possession, but football is about attack, defence, keeping possession when you need to - and results," he responded. "You can't just speak about possession. You have attack, defence, counter attack and keeping results. That is football." Touché.

And here is one statistic Ancelotti will be happy to offer up as evidence that Chelsea's way is preferable to Arsenal's - namely the aggregate score of 5-0 in the two meetings between the teams this season.

Wenger's apparent satisfaction at Arsenal's performance was betrayed somewhat by his heated touchline behaviour. He was ticking from the opening seconds, responding to the offer of a coat from a member of his backroom team by throwing it on the floor and later kicking it in a moment of fury, barely letting up for the whole afternoon. Wenger was as energetic as any of his players.

Chelsea fans register their support for John Terry with this bannerChelsea fans register their support for Terry with this banner

For all his sugar-coated offerings, such as "our spirit was great and our performance was great" (not really Arsene), Wenger is kidding only himself. There was barely a moment when Chelsea were not in total control of the game, either in defence or attack.

And coming on the back of Arsenal's dismantling by Manchester United at the Emirates, this latest defeat completed a chastening seven days for Wenger, who has seen all his words of optimism put in context by two of the clubs he hopes to overhaul this season.

If a moment summed up the gulf between the sides, it came in the closing moments when Drogba tumbled in a tussle with Cesc Fabregas. The Spaniard held his outstretched hand high and low towards referee Mike Dean in an attempt to illustrate how it was physically impossible for him to bring the striker to the floor, such is the differing statures.

Fabregas could have been offering a commentary on the game. It was almost an unwitting admission that this was men against boys. If Arsenal summoned up all their collective strength to land a punch on Chelsea, it is hard to see them even forcing a blink.

Chelsea may not have won many marks from Wenger for artistic impression, but their brand of powerful play and attacking variety stands more chance of success than the current Arsenal template, built around wispy, lightweight artists.

Drogba and Chelsea prefer the direct route to goal, whereas you get the impression that it does not actually enter the heads of some Arsenal players to take a shot at goal when they can make another pretty, but utterly pointless, pass.

Wenger will cling to the belief that Arsenal can somehow make up the nine-point gap between themselves and the top of the table, starting against Liverpool this week, but it is a diminishing prospect.

And amid the general gloom, of wider concern for Arsenal and England was the non-event that was Theo Walcott's performance. It was no surprise when he was substituted after 63 minutes, looking light years away from the player who terrorised Croatia with a hat-trick in Zagreb in England's World Cup qualifying campaign.

All the good news belonged to Chelsea - and Terry was happy to share it, as well as his shirt and armband, with their supporters at the end of his week of turmoil.

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  • Comment number 1.

    "Wenger's flawed analysis"

    Ha ha quality Phil you and Wenger must be one and the same!!!

  • Comment number 2.

    1st comment, woo!

    Good article, whats a shame is that almost everyone bar Wenger knows what type of players Arsenal need which is a shame because they are only a few players away from being serious title contenders.

  • Comment number 3.

    Wenger should be executed, right Phil? Even some Chelsea fans had better things to say than you did. You must be licking your lips for Wednesday. Win, draw or lose- Wenger or Benitez or both are in some for harsh words from you.

    I have a question for you though: How come the self-sufficient-we-dont-need-a-manager 'Men' of Stamford Bridge havent won the league title for the last 3 years?

  • Comment number 4.

    Isnt it a shame for the Premier League that a bunch of wispy,lightweight utterly pointless boys led by a deluded "poppycock" whinging manager is still third in the table? What does it say about the rest of the Premier league then?

    Isnt it a shame that this deluded "poppycock" whinging manager is the third most successful manager in Premier League history behind Sir Alex and Phil McNulty? What an unfair world!!

    By all means criticise. But do not be disrespectful.Watch it.

  • Comment number 5.

    #2 - Oh dear that comment looks very foolish now!!!

    #3 - Agree totally

  • Comment number 6.

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

  • Comment number 7.

    Unfortunately, some Arsenal fans are going to get the hump about this article. Notably the ones in the same state of denial as their manager. Some Arsenal fans however, will generally agree with the points made here.

    It doesnt take a tactical genius to work out that if Arsenal had a Van Nistelrooy or even an Owen in their team, they would be a frightening prospect. Arshavin, Walcott and Nasri simply are not going to scare the likes of Vidic, Terry, Ferdinand and Carvalho. Luckily, Wenger refuses to see this and continues to play without a recognised striker. I wonder if he regrets not fielding a stronger side against Stoke in the FA Cup now.

    If Arsenal were a cricketer, they would be Graeme Hick!

    And the reason Chelsea havent won a title for 3 years... put simply, Cristiano Ronaldo. We have won other trophies though.

  • Comment number 8.

    What's with the anti-McNulty brigade waiting to pounce every time he publishes a blog? Seriously guys, chill!

    Back to footballing matters, as Phil points out towards the end of his blog, surely on this form Theo Walcott is a non-starter for England - at least in the starting line-up? With James Milner in the form of his life and Aaron Lennon playing excellently when fit, either of these two could stake a claim to being the first choice right winger in South Africa. I hope the arch-pragmatist Capello will select Lennon, who has added an end product to his electric pace, and not Theo, who had one excellent game for England and not much else.

  • Comment number 9.

    My heart sank when BBC showed fans hailing Terry, the human race has gone down the toilet. Lets give bees a go at ruling the earth huh?

  • Comment number 10.

    STENDEC - You seem to be upset about something. I don't quite know where the 'we-don't-need-a-manager' comment came from but Wenger's failing ideas certainly seem to have struck a nerve with you.

  • Comment number 11.

    Good blog Phil!

    It's rare I agree with Andy Gray, but what he said about Arsenal is spot on. He said, ' They say in football you learn a lot from your defeats, well Atrsenal just don't seem to.' Spot on, couldn't be more right. If Drogba's brilliant freekick had have gone in, it would have been a carbon copy of the first game at the Emirates.

    Arsenal again played Chelsea off the park, but never really looked threatening. I always say the sign of a good manage - which undoubtedly Wenger is, is a manager who isn't afraid to tweak things in the middle of the game i.e. change formation, if it is clear your initial plan isn't working, as Arsenal's wasn't.

    But no, Arsenal continue to play in the same way, trying to walk the ball in, rather than just have a go. My granda always says if you have a go, there's a good chance of the ball taking a deflection and going in, as is backed up by the United, Pompey game, three goals via deflection.

    Arsenal need to learn yes they can pass the poorer teams to death, but they need to learn to mix up their game, against the top teams, because playing like that although attractive, isn't going to get you anywhere.

    Now to Walcott. Yes he's returning from injury so I should be slightly more leanient in my assesment of him, however his down turn in form, as well as Clichy has been bewildering, and I'm not sure returning from injury is a valid explanation.

    Walcott seems to have suddenly developed the first touch of Gabriel Obertan (I'm a United fan) and seems to have become attracted to grass, - he won't take his eyes off it. He needs to lift his head up, half the time now he just runs into a cul-de-sac.

    This was tipped to be a crunch time for Arsenal and it seems many of their prospects this season have been well and truly crushed, and unless they can beat Liverpool on ednesday, I feel their title hopes are well and truly gone.

    I think the events of the last two weeks, have further backed up my claim, that we are dealing with a top 2 not a top 4, as journos like to make out.

    Yes you don't necessarily win the league by beating your direct rivals, as Liverpool found out last year, but it certainly helps, and Arsenal need to learn to overcome these hurdles in my view if they are to be considered genuine contenders.

  • Comment number 12.

    #9 - Personally, what John Terry gets upto in his private life is none of my business. If he puts in the performances on the pitch (which, without fail he does), then Im happy. In very much the same way Arsenal fans still think Tony Adams is a legend, the same way they got behind Paul Merson when he had his troubles.

    I dont agree with what he's done, but who am I to judge him?! Did you really expect 45,000 Chelsea fans to boo him? Delusional in the extreme!

  • Comment number 13.

    Wow, this has got a few people's backs up! My word...

    Just to add fuel to the fire, I agree with Mr McNulty wholeheartedly. Arsenal looked comfortable on the ball until they got to the final third, then they had no answers. It's not even fair to say they ran out of ideas, they didn't have any to begin with.

    Chelsea were tight and narrow, so Arsenal couldn't pass through them. They had to be forced wide, so that the only real option was to cross - and with no height in the box it was bread and butter for the Chelsea back four.

    Lots of comments about past seasons and past successes/Chelsea's lack of recent titles, but is Phil referring to seasons gone by? No. Is he talking about the here and now? Yes. Are Arsenal a better side than Chelsea? Clearly not.

  • Comment number 14.

    I did think that Arsenal's performance yesterday was better than against Manchester United, but there is a dreadful lack of punch in the front line. I can't for the life of me see how crossing the ball in from the wings to the smallest front line in the premier league (Arshavin and Nasri could easily appear in Panto as some of Snow White's companions) against probably the most accomplished back four in the league is going to yield results. Yet time and again they tried this tactic.

    However, Lets not forget that is almost every statistic - bar one - Arsenal had the advantage over Chelsea. Unfortunately for them, that one statistic was the goals scored column. It was a good display by Chelsea, but not a great display, and i daresay that more "scrappy" sides will make things more difficult for them than the artisans from Highbury.

  • Comment number 15.

    "You can't just speak about possession. You have attack, defence, counter attack and keeping results. That is football."

    Love that from Ancelotti. Absolutely spot on. Wenger is employeed by Arsenal to form a team that can win the league, playing good football is simply a by-product and if anyone can prove it can be achieved it's Wenger. This crop however are not currently delivering.

  • Comment number 16.

    To LampsRightPeg..."If Arsenal were a cricketer, they would be Graeme Hick!"

    Interesting comparison and one that has some merit. Hick, of course, was infamously labelled a "flat track bully" by New Zealand Test cricketer and coach John Bracwell, who pointed to his his ability to pile up runs against the lesser sides but fail against those in the top-class.

    Arsenal fans are on the defensive about criticism of their team and manager, but Arsene Wenger could not seriously suggest they were the better team yesterday, and his assessment of Chelsea was grudging.

    The truth of the matter is that this was a repeat performance of previous Arsenal struggles against the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United and I suspect it may be a case of the truth hurting, especially when they have been exposed twice in seven days.

    It is correct to say that Chelsea have not won the league for three years, but they have had other successes in that period, while Arsenal have gone five years without a trophy and are struggling to win one this season.

    If some Arsenal fans out there agree with Wenger's assessment that they were the better team yesterday, then as always feel free to outline your reasoning here. The platform is yours.

  • Comment number 17.

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

  • Comment number 18.

    Hey Thom, I have nothing against Chelsea or its supporters. I was merely making the point that the league is incredibly hard to win. We are far from a complete team which is bound to attract criticism but not knee-jerk cynism and disrespect.This sort of shabby knee-jerk journalism is part of the reason for a high-attrition rate among Managers in the PL. Fans read this stuff and become ever more restless.

    As for the 'we-don't-need-a-manager' comment, it came from your club captain this if you dont believe me.

  • Comment number 19.

    Arsenal should have goten somethng from that game but it seems like they wanted to walk the ball into the net. anyway they say if you want somthing done do it yourself..... cant wait for chelsea at old trafford, i have a snicky feeling that game will be a major pointer as to where the league will be headed.

  • Comment number 20.

    2. At 09:28am on 08 Feb 2010, The_Chief_Architect wrote:

    Sorry buddy you missed 1st post slightly!

    Was a bit of a shame to see Arsenal bullied out of the game, being a UTD supporter, I sort of tried to convince myself they could maybe push for a was clearly wishful thinking!

    Do you think that UTD are genuinely in the race or do you think Chelsea will wrap things up?

    I'm worried that we still have Villa, Spurs, City, Chelsea..and our boggie team - LIVERPOOL.!!

  • Comment number 21.

    17. At 10:05am on 08 Feb 2010, you wrote:

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

    That is a joke!!!

    All i said was Wenger does not deserve this personal attack from a supposed "chief football writer" (and i use that term very loosely)

    Congratulations to Chelsea thay are a very good side but equally Arsenal are not as bad as what is being said here.

  • Comment number 22.

    Hi Phil,

    Interesting article, and I agree with you on most of your points, but I think you are too harsh to Wenger and Arsenal. Arsenal look to me two players short of a class team. I didn't think the margins between the sides were much larger than that. Those two players were:

    1) Robin Van Persie. They unquestionably looked short of a striker yesterday and by leaving Bendtner on the bench Wenger knows he is not the answer. Van Persie would have given them the prescence and danger in the box they missed yesterday. How many crosses went in for Arshavin yesterday? Pointless. If it had been Van Persie attacking those crosses then I could have seen Arsenal threatening.

    2)A Vieira type player. If Vieira had been in the defensive midfield position there is no way Drogba would have scored the second goal, Arsenal were crying out for someone to close the ball down initially, and following that someone to organise the defence. Song just isn't up to it. Arsenal are so fragile to the counter attack at the moment because they lack a class defensive midfielder.

    If they had a Vieira type player and Van Persie fit for a season I could genuinely see them winning the title.

  • Comment number 23.

    McNulty - as you seem to have adopted the increasingly spreading habit of referring to people by their surnames almost exclusively, I shall do the same?
    Firstly, I cannot do anything before I congratulate Chelsea on a good performance. I agree with Arsene Wenger's assessment, although not in choice of words, that Chelsea played well but were within themselves and they were also efficient with the opportunities they had. And it is this last point that splits this game for me.
    Had Arshavin taken the opportunity to equalise in the first half the game could well have been completely different as Arsenal were in the ascendency and were dominating for most of that first half. We had an equal amount of opportunities thereabouts but just did not take them. We were playing well, using width and getting much more stable in the final third - we didn't even get into the final third against United! Although, again predictably, Drogba was the undoing - I don't seem to recall too much pressure or danger from any other player in a blue shirt? Again countered by the fact that Arsenal were ineffectual upfront without a proper front man - Arshavin is not that man and we are making ANY game an uphill struggle using him as a front man - I would prefer Bendtner be there as he improved us further in a second half in which we tested Cech again and he also played a part in preventing the game flowing back our way.
    Walcott's non-appearance is concerning. I appreciate he is very much a confidence player, but it's taking far too long for him to even show up in any of the last few games he's featured. I'm not even saying I expect him to get a goal/assist - but make a run, cause trouble - he has failed to do this at all in the last few weeks. This is further problematic in that he is our widest playing-player - the lack of width this team has is concerning. We flatter to deceive at some form of width when we play a five-man midfield - a formation that itself makes you 'wider on the pitch' but not 'wider in style of play'. You cannot pass around all teams, you have to loop balls over the top to use pace to run onto, or you have to play wide and get the ball in - ultimately you need to be able to mix it up when you need to - to have a plan B. We can fight and we have a good mentality - even though I'm not entirely convinced that Fabregas wearing the armband is actually a little like running with the brakes on a bit, from a pure leadership perspective. But we need pace up front and we need height/strength up front. The funny thing is, Walcott centrally and playing Bendtner with more faith offer us both of these. Whether they work or not is different and it would need some team adjusting, but we can't continue to hit brick walls in games - a top side does not do that. Yes we have proved we can still fight when the going gets tough and the heads don't drop too much - but you need a light at the end of the tunnel to aim for, a differing approach that can reach a dividend, or at least a distraction to then try and hit back the faithful 'special passing' way! I understand the reticence of many fans to play Bendtner but I think the boy is young, strong, truly excellent in the air and capable of winning the ball and he has proved he can be selfish enough up front to take shots. I also think it's time to put Walcott centrally and he is never short of confidence - he is short of a starting position in the team - give him the chance, see if he takes it. He's confident at all times and is never affected by the game around him, he just needs to know WHEN he is going to play and I think he can start to prove his worth - and if not, then we know it's a waste - it's a win-win surely? As for Theo - he's clearly not able to use his pace against the pacey wingbacks in the league, maybe taking on centrebacks would at least give him a change, a motivation to find another way to play for his longterm future.
    As for Arsenal - we need to learn to concentrate defensively - every single goal we have conceded against the big boys have been terrible errors and mistakes - and you cannot do that at the highest level - especially not so early in the game... This is the thing that concerns me most - why are we making identical mistakes to opponents in identical situations? It is inexcusable in my view, I see Wenger doesn't understand it, and neither do the fans - this needs to change...NOW!

  • Comment number 24.

    RE 16: Phil, we are not claiming that Arsenal were the better side or deserved to win . I am merely suggesting that your reactions are excessive, as indeed is that of the media in general. Either sky high praise or ripped to shreds. There has to be some middle ground.

    As for Arsenal not winning a trophy for five years, I am prepared to go one step further and say we havent won the league for six years.
    We would be deluding ourselves if we felt winning the league cup or the FA cup could be classed as a significant success. For someone who gets so much criticism for it, do you not think that Wenger could have easily thrown away the league and focused fully on the FA CUP this season?

    Or perhaps there is some sane explanation, that Sir Alex is after Liverpool's League titles record and not their League Cup record.

    On another note, how much did winning the FA CUP help Chelsea last season or Pompey the season before?

  • Comment number 25.

    "There was barely a moment when Chelsea were not in total control of the game, either in defence or attack" This is what Phil, a spectator said of the match.
    Now the following is what Drogba, Chelsea's match winner said of the game: "....But we suffered a lot in the second half, Arsenal played well". Judge for yourselves forum, These are the kind of articles Phil has been putting out there. Puzzling!!!!!!

  • Comment number 26.


    I'm of the opinion that Capello is as right as he is wrong over the captaincy.

    For example, as Terry continues to perform well on the pitch, we look to Old Trafford to check up on the new captain. And where is he? That's right, he's in the stands having been suspended for violent conduct on a football pitch! Terrific! (Add that to his injuries and poor form at times, and at least he'll be rested come the World Cup.)

    But overall, I understand why he did it and kudo's to Capello for not getting involved in the gossip at the draw for the Euro's yesterday.

    As for the game, I was with an Arsenal fan in the pub and he was screaming for a proper centre forward to come on (if Bendtner can be described as such) because it was obvious that Arsenal weren't going to be able to get through Chelsea's defence the way they were trying. Little width from Arsenal and with smallish players, even the corners they got weren't that threatening.

    Sure Arsenal had more possession, but you really get the impression that Chelsea were schooled to let Arsenal have the ball and run around with it if they want because they do so little with it.

    I'm just not sure what Wenger is trying to do. What he has created is coming up short time and again, every season and in every competition and yet it doesn't change.

  • Comment number 27.

    Good impartial blog again Phil. Once again full of complete praise for Arsenal's opponents without the slightest regard for Arsenal. You seem to forget how hard Arsenal have had it this year with all the critics writing us off before the season, the inevitable injuries we've sustained to almost the entire squad at one point in time, playing a game behind everyone else for the majority of the season due to Cl 'qualifier' and then in addition to playing the rest of the top 4 in 2 weeks....yeah thats easy to deal with!

  • Comment number 28.

    21. At 10:17am on 08 Feb 2010, LABSAB9 wrote:



  • Comment number 29.

    What John Terry gets up to in his personal life is a matter for his wife. Though why we are being burdened by bucket loads of sycophancy from journalists on the subject is anyones guess.

    On the game itself it is clear that once the scale of Van Persie injury became apparent then a replacement was needed, Arsenal had no recognised forward until the intervention of Bendtner.
    Your point on Arsene Wenger seriously believing Arsenal were the better team yesterday was also shared by Graeme Souness on Sky who commented that Arsenal would be wondering how they took nothing out of a game they bossed.

    I suppose you pays your money and takes your choice.

  • Comment number 30.

    In response to Simon Samm (20),

    On current form we are firmly in the title race, and Chelsea and their fans know it.

    Yes we still have difficult games to play, as does everyone, so I'm not overly concerned about that. Of the fixtures you mentioned above the Spurs, Chelsea and Liverpool games are at home. I think I am right in saying we play Villa on Wednesday, thus getting a difficult fixture out of the way.

    I believe if we play with the same intensity, and swagger of our last 3 or 4 games, we will emerge from Villa Park with maximum points, but if not I am confident we will avoid defeat.

    I can understand why your still to be totally convinced by United this year, until the last couple of weeks we've been distinctly avearge, - for us, but we seem to be moving through the gears now, as we traditionally do, and we have virtually a full squad to select from now, which although not an excuse as every team suffers injuries, it has definetly affected us.

    So answering your questions I believe we have definetly got Chelsea worried now, we won't go awayy, - they know that.

    I would add two weeks ago, I tipped the Terry revelations to affect Chelsea a little like the infamous Rafa rant affected Liverpool. Time will tell. Hopefully my predictions comes true, and we are the ones celebrating come the close of another PL season.

    Open to a reply on my comments Pal.

  • Comment number 31.

    In agreeing with some of the other posts on this article, the journalism is just all too reactive, you seem desperate to blog on Arsenal every time they lose so you can bring up the same old cliches 'men against boys', 'pretty but ineffective' etc. Arsenal's season isnt over yet, in fact they have a relatively easier run of fixtures coming up, and it is too early and predictable to write their obituary every time they have a poor result.

  • Comment number 32.

    #24 STENDEC

    On another note, how much did winning the FA CUP help Chelsea last season or Pompey the season before?
    Can turn also ran players into winners to a great psychological advantage. Pompey's success clearly is just not sustainable (i.e the entire team has now been sold hasn't it?) so it's perhaps a false comparison. Chelsea's players have been around the block and know what it takes to win.

    May I suggest that this Arsenal side might never 'come of age' if they don't win something soon.

  • Comment number 33.

    The problem for Arsenal is that they have been figured out. If you force them out wide for crosses they rarely threaten. FOr lesser teams the better technical skill and one touch passing can get through but against the best defenders in the league they cant do that.

    I was flicking back and forth between this game and the rugby so there is a chance i didnt get the full picture but for me Arsenal were better on the ball around the midfield and despite getting wav after wave of attack going, it never really went anywhere. Chelsea seemed perfectly happy to let Arsenal have the ball as they seemed comfortable that it wasnt going to come to anything whereas when Chelsea had the ball they were happy enough to have jabs of attack that did look threatening.

    Like with the Man U game, had Arshavin taken his chance at 1-0 it might have made it a bit different but as it was with the lead Chelsea were content to let Arsenal have the ball and then hit them on the break or from set plays

    It should make for an interesting run in as Man U and Chelsea will probably drop a similar number of points and it could come down to the result at OT when the two meet. Had Chelsea not had their lucky win against Utd at the bridge then it would be even tighter!

  • Comment number 34.

    25. At 10:22am on 08 Feb 2010, kofibruku wrote:

    You seem surprised mate, this is the tosh we got off Phil "Chief Football Writer" McNulty all the time.

  • Comment number 35.


    Brutal, but honest! It's time Wenger realised he needs to spend to make the extra step. They play massively attacking football, which can look fantastic, but has it's limits. Aginst the physical, well drilled teams, they simply do not have the answer. They are not strong enough, and will not shoot unless a goal is 100% guarantied.

    Having said that, I would not be surprised if they gave a hiding in revenge.

  • Comment number 36.

    This is sensationalist "poppycock" even by your standards Mr McNulty. Maybe as an Arsenal fan i have a biased viewpoint but i would sum the match up as a lesson in ruthlessness, not 'men against boys'.

    Maybe the second most successful manager in Premiership history, the most successful foreign manager in English league history, and the most successful Arsenal manager in history doesn't command your respect, but he does mine. To call him a delusionalist and a whinger is beyond my comprehension. Do you expect him to come out and say "we aren't good enough" and further deflate his young team's confidence?

    We are PATENTLY not good enough, he should have bought a goalkeeper and a striker in the window, and he is stubborn to a fault. I am not denying that. But a la Benitez, lets look at the facts. We are competing with Man Utd and Chelsea, having had a fraction of their transfer budget, whilst building a new stadium, not being able to purchase ready made replacements on ridiculous amounts of money, and all the while attempting to be the only club run on self sustainment rather than monumental debt.
    If i was the Chief Football Reporter of the BBC, i would hold Arsenal with a little more respect that they try to do things the right way without "financial doping", without selling out to the richest person around, and without constantly sacking our manager if things don't go right for 2 weeks.

  • Comment number 37.

    If Arsenal are going to continue to play the beutiful game with some of the team the size of school boys then they will get nothing from the likes of Chelsea or United. Stoke just rolled them over like lap Dogs in the cup. Not much point in playing pretty football if you struggle to win the big games. Somebody needs to explain to the tiny tots that you are aloud to score from outside the box, maybe they kick that far.Get some big ugly bruts in, blokes that don't mind their hair messed up, put the blood and thunder back in to The Arsenal.

  • Comment number 38.

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

  • Comment number 39.

    "If some Arsenal fans out there agree with Wenger's assessment that they were the better team yesterday, then as always feel free to outline your reasoning here. The platform is yours."

    In terms of possession Arsenal were the better team. However, our calamitous defending gifted Chelsea two goals. I would argue that these were the only two clear cut chances that Chelsea had and they took them with ruthless efficiency. When Arsenal's chances presented themselves (i.e Arshavin and Nasri) we could not take them.

    I think it is also clear that playing Arshavin up front is not working. I think Wenger should give Bendtner the opportunity from the start to prove that he is the top striker that Bendtner thinks he is.

    However, I thought the Arsenal team generally showed a lot of character, especially after the Utd defeat, but if we keep defending in this manner we are going to be sucked in to the scrap for fourth place. As has also been pointed out many times, we need a 'Plan B'. It is clear that the top teams are going to put two banks of four across the box and hit us on the counter attack. Yet we still try and pass through them. We need to get it wide and start crossing it. People will then say that we have no target man to aim for, but I think the solution is simple. Start Bendtner with Diaby in 'the hole', with Fabregas dropping back and tell Diaby to get into the box as much as possible. Suddenly we have two 6ft plus players in the box for crosses and this will provide us with another option. I think Wenger should give this a go at least.

  • Comment number 40.

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

  • Comment number 41.

    At 10:29am on 08 Feb 2010, Jamie Riley wrote:

    I do agree with you pal. As you said up until 3-4 games ago we were looking pretty average by our standards. Since watching out performance against City ( at home ) and Arsenal I have a lot more faith, I agree that I think the Chelsea fans will have a bit more worry now!
    With regards to the Villa game on Wed..are we at home?
    I would like to think we can come out on top, if we can get maximum points and take points off City and Liverpool it could come down the the game against Chelsea – which I believe is at OT?
    What are you views on Berba? Do you think he will find the form he had at spurs..or should SAF replace him and lose out on a lot of money which we paid for him?

    Cheers buddy.

  • Comment number 42.

    Just like to say that I never had any doubts that Terry and Chelsea would rise above all the hassle that's been going around the past week. As a Manchester United fan, I was hoping that Arsenal could take points off them but honestly, both United and Chelsea are on another level completely to that of all sides in the EPL (and most of Europe too). But Terry was brilliant yesterday as was Ashley Cole, Carvalio, Lamps etc, etc..... I know we have gone up a couple of notches lately but Chelsea look great at the moment. Sometimes you have to give the opposition credit and I think Chelsea deserve some today. Well done. May the best team win.

  • Comment number 43.

    #30 Jamie Riley

    I would add two weeks ago, I tipped the Terry revelations to affect Chelsea a little like the infamous Rafa rant affected Liverpool. Time will tell. Hopefully my predictions comes true, and we are the ones celebrating come the close of another PL season.
    It's a bit different because Rafa can only talk the talk. Terry is part of the action and has shown that he can walk the walk.

    If anything, this will make Chelsea stronger and galvanise Terry so that he proves to people that he is a footballer first and foremost, and a damn good one at that.

  • Comment number 44.

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

  • Comment number 45.

    38. At 10:43am on 08 Feb 2010, LABSAB9 wrote:

    Haha - I'll try and improve for you today!

  • Comment number 46.

    Made a small error on my post #23:

    Meant that BENDTNER is never short of confidence and WALCOTT massively is - and also that it's time to test Bendtner with starts and make him prove his confidence is well founded...

  • Comment number 47.

    Some excerpts from Nulty's blog on 30 Nov 2008 after Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-1 at the Bridge:

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

    2.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.

    Sounds familiar??

  • Comment number 48.

    #36 Great Post

    I said as much in post 17 which for some reason was removed because it broke "house rules"

    It appears to be ok for Phil to personally attack Wenger but when somebody puts forward a reasoned response it gets removed.

  • Comment number 49.

    #27 - "Good impartial blog again Phil. Once again full of complete praise for Arsenal's opponents without the slightest regard for Arsenal."

    Phil is blogging on a game that Arsenal deservedly lost, what else do you expect?!

  • Comment number 50.

    I have plenty of respect for Arsene Wenger and have said so on occasions in the past, but sometimes the truth will hurt. I am afraid his assessment of yesterday's game was not a reflection of the reality. If Arsenal supporters are actually satisfied with what they have seen from their team in the last week then I would be very surprised.

    I have given an honest reflection of a game in which Arsenal were vulnerable in defence (once again even when they are actually on the attack) and impotent in attack. Not the mark of the best team at Stamford Bridge yesterday.

    Wenger's body language throughout the game was also not that of a satisfied manager, and I genuinely feel he is fooling himself if he thought Arsenal were the better side.

    Statistics about possession are as meaningless as the classic "shots off target" tally unless you actually do something with it. Too often Arsenal don't, with players passing on the responsibility of having a shot. I hardly think it is being disrespectful to point this out.

    As succinctly stated in this report, Chelsea were more than happy to let Arsenal have possession when they can be pretty confident they will not make good use of it on most occasions.

  • Comment number 51.

    7. LampsRightPeg:
    "And the reason Chelsea havent won a title for 3 years... put simply, Cristiano Ronaldo."

    Put simply, you're talking rubbish! I suppose you are also saying that United are a 'one man team' this year because of the form of Rooney? (surely that would make United a two-man team last year, when Ronaldo and Rooney both played in the same team?!!). Also, without wanting to sound like Wenger, the statistics don't back up your argument:

    - Up to this point in the Premier League, United have scored 61 goals.
    - Last season they had scored 44 at this exact same stage, SEVENTEEN goals less.
    - The year before that United had scored 49 goals after 25 matches, TWELVE goals less.

    So in Ronaldo's two 'golden seasons', the seasons when he single-handedly won United the title according to you, United scored 17 and 12 goals LESS in the league than they have at the same stage this season. He was a great player for United, no question about that, but without him United score more goals!

    Also, United's defence were instrumental last season - remember the 14 clean sheets on the run? The Premier League team-of-the-year included Van De Sar, Evra, Ferdinand and Vidic (as well as Giggs and Ronaldo) - does that make us a six man team? No wait, that doesn't include Rooney (our 'one man team this year) and Tevez, who everyone is saying we were mad not to sign!!

    And finally, sorry to sound pedantic but Chelsea finished THIRD last season, behind Liverpool as well.

  • Comment number 52.

    I watched the game yesterday i did think we were slightly better than we were against united but in the game against Chelsea we had 60% possession but did absolutely nothing with it.
    I believe we will get back on track with Liverpool at home on Weds, and with United, Chelsea and Liverpool all having still to play each other if we keep in touching distance we might have an outside chance of silverware.
    I do get angry when people have a knee jerk reaction and say Wenger please go, yes we have lost 2 games on the trot but now we possible have the easier run in and both United and Chelsea we have all seen can drop points, and whose to say United lose Rooney and Chelsea lose Drogba to injury like us with Robin Van Persie, you never know.
    The title ends in May not February. Keep the faith

  • Comment number 53.

    RE 36: Completely agree. Even considering his usual mediocre standards, this is quite a windup article from Ulty. I repeat. We should have an "Alert a Moderator" option for these blogs too. Why you are no different than a common 606 WUM?

  • Comment number 54.

    At 10:40am on 08 Feb 2010, randfish wrote:


  • Comment number 55.

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

  • Comment number 56.

    Yesterday was a real opportunity for Arsenal!

    Earlier in the season at the Emirates, Arsenal didn't create a single goal scoring opportunity, but I thought this time round, with Chelsea missing Essien, they would really cause us many problems.

    Ok, Arsenal did at least have a couple of chances in this game, but it was still fairly comfortable for Chelsea to execute their game plan, and complete a 4th consecutive victory over Arsenal.

    But until Arsenal, and perhaps more to the point Wenger, stops looking to blame others for their failings, and instead look closer to home, I really can't see how things will improve for them.

    It pains me to say it, but Manchester United have shown that they have the humility within their club to recognise when things need to improve. For example, how they responded to Chelsea under the Jose Mourinho era.

    Arsenal, under Wenger, lack such humility!

  • Comment number 57.

    "There was barely a moment when Chelsea were not in total control of the game, either in defence or attack" Did you watch the game or were you too busy on twitter describing Arsenal as "lighwieght"? We won the majority of the 50-50s and Chelsea midfield were pinned back in thier own half for much of the game. To offer such a startingly poor review of a game that was ultimately changed by two players is beyond belief.

    Arsenal had at least three clear cut oppurtunities which were denied by the brilliant performance of a keeper who has suddenly found the form he has been lacking all season. Chelsea were camped in thier own half for much of the first and second half and while I have no criticism of thier tactics (they played to win) I think its a point that seriously undermines the credibility of a biassed piece which seems to concentrate more of the bashing of Wenger than the actual Arsenal performance. This was certainly not a battering and any neatral will look at the game and assertain that Arsenal were weak in a few key moments of the match but domination it certainly wasnt.

  • Comment number 58.

    one thing i have noticed in the last two matches (United and Chelsea) Wenger sticks William Gallas up top as a 'Target Man' to aim for, which is the right thing to do considering your team is chasing the game. but what they fail to do, is use him!! they don't pump the ball up to him for him to knock it down to someone else. instead they still keep trying to pass their way through. i mean look at one of Arsenal's best chances in the first half, the long ball over the top and arshavin hit it on the volley, cech made a brilliant save but it shows that it is effective, and who cares if its pretty football, your playing in a derby match against your main competitors for the league, it should be more about winning than looking good.

  • Comment number 59.

    Seriously Phil, I dont know which game you watched yesterday, but you seem to be slightly confused yourself. In the second half we were without a doubt the better team. We put them under intense presseure. Like Wegner said respect needs to be given to Chelsea's defence for withstanding that pressure. Any lesser teams would have crumbled.

    I also do agree that we do need a centre forward but please do remember that the only reason Wegner did not buy a centreforward in January was because Bendtner was coming back from injury.

    I have to applaud Chelsea. Ever since the Mourinho days their back four has been solid and it continues to be even in these days. This is something Mourinho has to have credit for.

    Anyways regarding my beloved Arsenal. I am happy where we are. I remember at the start of the season we were written off completely and it was suggested by a lot of the media that we would struggle to finish in the top four. Well in that case we have certainly exceeded expectations and you should be congratulating Mr Wegner, not calling him delusional.

  • Comment number 60.

    RE 50: Phil, it is not disrespectful to point out that our players "passed the opportunity" to shoot or that we were "vulnerable" in defence. Totally agree.

    But I do not agree with your comment "Wenger's assessment of Terry was one of his better moments in an after-match briefing that was at best wildly optimistic and at worst delusional."

    Nor do I agree that you focus your article on Wenger's post match reaction or his reactions during the game, which points to more intent to create a personal attack rather than write a sensible article.

    In summary, I have seen better articles on 606 from rival WUM's on the Arsenal board. But they had the decency to be respectful.

  • Comment number 61.

    to 9 - You are probably a real Saint, if you can only stop judging other you will be immortal

  • Comment number 62.

    What are you talking about? Abramovich has plowed almost £2bn (!!) pounds into Chelsea. The scorer of the goals yesterday cost £24m. You're talking as if they've managed to bring through a load of youth players and then beaten the mighty Arsenal. The bottom line is very simple and doesn't need a rocket scientist to work out. If Drogba had been playing for Arsenal yesterday they'd have won. Apart from JT there's nobody at the club pre-Russian billions. He could've bought Watford and had the same ammount of success. £2bn. Let's all think about that while people are starving to death in Africa..

  • Comment number 63.

    Another point to be made. Should Villa and Everton beat United and Chelsea in midweek (not inconceivable by any means), and Arsenal beat Liverpool (equally conceivable), then by my reckoning, the past two results are rendered meaningless, as we are as far behind as we were before?
    I assume that will mean we are back in the race to be champions of England and we will get rave reviews for being in with a chance?

    The frustration at being 2 players short of being the team to beat (not my opinion, but Crooks on MOTD2, Souness on Sky), is only increased by the lack of thought and sheer short-termism displayed here. Yes, the last two results have been bad, but is it really as bad as to call Wenger delusional, and Ancelotti seemingly all-knowing?! Laughable.

  • Comment number 64.

    "you get the impression that it does not actually enter the heads of some Arsenal players to take a shot at goal"

    Dear oh dear. Many of us Arsenal fans or otherwise have come to realise that Mr. Mcnulty's "comment and analysis" usually smacks of a man who looked at the scoreline and read the analysis from a red top early morning and jumped on the subsequent bandwagon. Most Arsenal fans know that we did not deserve to win and that Chelsea deserved the 3 points. What many including myself feel the need to gripe about is the complete glossing over of the FACT that Chelsea only had 3 shots on target over 90 minutes while Arsenal had double that amount and more posession. Arsenal DID dominate the second half but could not put the ball in the net and thus did not deserve to win. Simple. The "analysis" put forward here is laughable. Do we really pay for this? Finally Drogba dived, hence Fabregas' insistence it isnt likely he pulled him down. Something Drogba is famous for. If you're going to make a comparison of the gulf between the sides, look no further than Almunia and Cech. Cech made one excellent stop and a number of decent ones while Almunia was tested 3 times total and although the first goal was not his fault, for Drogba's second, i could have sworn he closed his eys. Goalkeeping is a skillset not a game of chance.

  • Comment number 65.

    I was actually proud of the performance yesterday. The way we started, we could have totally capitulated. We fought back and had chances to score, the main difference i could see was one thing, Didier Drogba. Once again he made the difference. Interesting to note that the last time we beat Chelsea was at Stamford Bridge when Drogba was out but Van Persie played and scored 2 for us. I think if Man Utd had to play most of the season without Rooney and Chelsea without Drogba then we would be much closer to the top.

    I think we only need one or two acquisitions and we will be capable of winning the league. We have improved this season, while our injury list as still been huge, so there is not too much wrong. Maybe it is time one of the younger goalkeepers stepped in though, not convinced by Almunia.

    Anyway, I for one will still go to every home game and cheer the team, thankful for the great footballw e play and guarantee of european football each season, safe in the knowledge the club isn't going to go bust. A lot of clubs would love to be in our position.

  • Comment number 66.

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

  • Comment number 67.

    At 10:45am on 08 Feb 2010, simon samm wrote:
    What are you views on Berba? Do you think he will find the form he had at spurs..or should SAF replace him and lose out on a lot of money which we paid for him?

    I know you were asking someone else but if it were me i would try and keep him sitting in between midfield and the strikers. While he has lost his form in front of goal his link up play and touch are still excellent so if you have his main job as opening up the opposition and not on scoring goals he would be excellent most weeks!

  • Comment number 68.

    I don't think your analysis stands up, Phil. Arsenal do look short of a striker, but when Wenger let Adabeyour go, it looked like he had plenty of attacking options - and to be fair, scoring goals has not been a problem for Arsenal against most teams this season, even physical ones. For me the key to the game was in defence, and the form of one player. Chelsea looked assured and managed to pack the defence whenever Arsenal broke forward, whilst Clichy looked desperately out of sorts and gifted Drogba both of his goals. Full credit to Drogba for taking the opportunities, but the goals have to be put down to elementary defensive errors. The first goal Clichy drifted out of position to leave a midfielder covering three players, and for the second he committed himself as last man to a tackle he had little chance of pulling off.

  • Comment number 69.

    RE--63 : Quote : "Yes, the last two results have been bad, but is it really as bad as to call Wenger delusional, and Ancelotti seemingly all-knowing?! Laughable."

    Welcome to the Nulty blogs. Wait a few weeks though before Nulty brings out the "Ancelloti fails to emerge from Mourinho's shadow" rubbish.

  • Comment number 70.

    #62 grueben

    Where on earth do you get those figures from? Your want to exaggerate actually undermines any sensible point you are making.

    If it is about money, how about Wenger uses some of the money that is reported to be available and buys someone good who can make the difference.

    If Arsenal are well run (and I don't doubt that they are) then what is the point in sitting on cash? Let's say that all things are equal when Arsenal have repaid their debt and they start to record bigger profits. Is Wenger going to spend on better players then, because it seems it would be equally against his principles. Or, will Arsenal reduce ticket prices to benefit the fans who are currently paying the most in the country.

    Football is about maximising resources to be successful. It would seem that right now, Arsenal are not doing that, and that point is nothing to do with what we saw yesterday afternoon.

  • Comment number 71.

    51 - Eddy Cordoza.

    I also hate to be pedantic, but at no point did I say that United were a one-man team. I also never said he "single-handedly" won United the title. These are both things you assumed because it suits your argument. From one sentence youve assumed that I think youre a one-man team THIS season AND have been a one-man team for the last 3 seasons.

    My point was that he was simply the difference between the two teams at that time. Now that he's gone, there appears to be very little between the two sides. I dont need goals scored stats to back that up, I'll just look at the league table!

    So take a chill pill, and stop assuming that everything anybody says is some attack on your team!

    And also, dont read too much into statistics. Statistics can generally be twisted to suit anybodys argument. Look at the statistics and Arsenal were dominant yesterday. Were they dominant in reality though? Certainly not!

  • Comment number 72.

    it was a good game yesterday and I have to say I agree with alot of what phil says with regards to arsenal (although i think some of the comments could have been balanced by making it clear that you appreciate the reasons behind some of what arsene wenger says - i.e. he has an agenda ansd that is to protect his team and their confidence)

    I have to say i was realyl impressed with chelseas back 4 (especially ashley cole) and of course drogba. The game was dominated by the defending and drogbas quest for another hat trick...and he nearly got, what a free kick that would have been!

    as an aside (a lighthearted one) andy gray spoke of the perfect hat trick drogba was on for, left foot, right foot, header... i was wondering if that is the perfect hat trick?...i think a volley (ala yeboah at liverpool), a bicycle kick (sinclair's for QPR) and a lob (cantona's) would be my perfect three goals...and if there were a player out there who could score those three in a match, i think i might sign him!

    ps - best actual hat trick i ever seen would be rooneys against fenerbahce

  • Comment number 73.

    This is an example of the fickleness of the media, werent the football media in general pointing out that John Terry was the wrong choice for England Captain, now your saying that he is a good captain for chelsea. Then in the same bredth the verdict on Arsenal is that they are lightweight, whihc may be true. Most of the fans are of the opinion that they are lightwieght but as soon as Aresenal thrash a team 3-0 the rest of the press pack will be shouting that they will be challengers again and then the fans that read blogs and watch TV will agree.

    I know the football media is doing its job in gaging opion but its becoming less informative and more opinionated, which changes like the with wind (Opinions).

  • Comment number 74.

    Arsenal fans, and indeed some deluded sports journalists like to make comparisons between their team and Barcelona.

    Yet a quick glance at a Barcelona team sheet, will usually bring you such names as Ramos, Puyol, Toure, Keita and Alves. These players are no pussycats, so it begs the question why Wenger, if he truly aspires to attain the same level of football that Barcelona produce, refuses to recognise the importance of these type of players to the best footballing club side in the world.

  • Comment number 75.

    I'm really pleased to see that Arsenal fans are backing their manager here. I'm not an Arsenal fan but I would be disappointed if Wenger were to leave - I think he is undoubtedly the best manager in the league.

    Things are not going too well at the moment for him and yes he seems to be kidding himself on a bit if he thinks Arsenal were the better team yesterday. However I find it hard to criticise him because he is a great manager and has the right ideas about how the game should be played. I think he is a few players short of a championship winning side but he's in the right direction, albeit taking longer than I thought. I fancied Arsenal to mount a serious challenge this season and it looked like they would a few weeks ago.

    I still fancy them strongly for next season but only if Wenger strengthens with 2 or 3 top players. He has been reluctant to spend too big in the transfer market recently but I hope he realises he needs to in the summer.

    One comment he made in the post-match interview was that his team is much younger than Chelsea which is a valid point. But this potential needs to come to fruition at some point and generate some success and I think this has to happen next season. The Arsenal fans are patient and loyal to Wenger but they can only do this for so long.

    As I said I'm not an Arsenal fan but the way they play football makes me want them to have success. Chelsea(and others like Liverpool) are efficient but let's face it they're boring. Of course not to their own fans because winning is everything but to a neutral observer you want to see entertaining football and you want that to be successful for football's sake.

  • Comment number 76.

    What John Terry gets up to in his personal life is a matter for his wife. Though why we are being burdened by bucket loads of sycophancy from journalists on the subject is anyones guess.

    Baffles me too. Usually we are bombarded by moralistic conservative clap trap from most journos when its ordinary mortals or non-football celebraties. Pity no one gives a fig for Terry's wife and kids in all this. As long as Terry is churning out the 'heroic' performances all is well with the world?

    I'm not saying hes right or wrong, we all make mistakes, but most of us get on with them, deal with the problem and carry on working. The lad played a game of football for goodness sake. His wife is probably sitting there feeling, wow my husband's now a hero, hmmm. As for him doing a 'lap of honour' there's nowt wrong with supporting someone as Chelsea fans were bound to do, but surely Terry applauding the crowd for their support would have been sufficient? Milking that support as if he is some sort of hero doesn't sit well with me.

    Wenger was right, they were superior in most areas according to the stats but Chelsea were efficient and looked like they could step on the gas whenever they needed to.

  • Comment number 77.

    I can't help thinking that there's an irony around Alan Hansen's legendary 'you win nothing with kids' comment against my lot many years ago. With Arsenal's likely 6 years without a trophy, could he actually be proved right? After all, when AH made the comment against us, at least we did have experienced heads like Eric Cantona in the mix. Arsenal don't have that and that's their downfall (something even their own fans admit and have been crying out for a solution for some time now, no?)

  • Comment number 78.

    Very harsh blog Phil, surely your job in this post was to explain in detail what happened during the match, not to just have a pop at Arsene and Arsenal?

    You could argue that Chelsea were happy to sit back and soak up the pressure, but in reality they couldn't put their foot on the ball. The major differnce between the sides was Drogba again, but there certainly isn't a gulf between them, I've no idea how you arrived at this conclusion?

    Ashley Cole had a very good game (you've no idea how difficult it is to admit that) and shut Theo out of it from the very start, so credit to Cole, not admonishment for Theo.

    Surely there are a plethora of young journalists at the BBC who could write this blog without so much barely disguised bias?

  • Comment number 79.

    In response to Simon Samm:

    On Wednesday we are away at Villa Park. Very tricky game under any circumstances. Perhaps, especially as Villa have the added incentive of doing their first double over us in about 25 years. If you remember Villa beat us 1-0 at home (Agbonlahor header) when we had all those defensive troubles. I am however relatively confident we will go their and win.

    My views on Berbatov, are probably similar to your own and many other United fans. One of the most technically gifted players around, we seem another example of this with his silky scoop pass to Valencia. The problem is he doesn't apply himself right. He floats in and out of games, and doesn't do the graft for the team, - which doesn't go unnoticed by United fans.

    So to be concise, fabulously gifted player, but someone who needs to add the word 'work' to his dictionary.

  • Comment number 80.


    only JT before our russian millions?
    so What about Frank Lampard?
    also it was 8 years ago that Abromovich took over, not many teams have players left at the club from 8 years ago, its generally considered a long time.

  • Comment number 81.

    I am so depressed by this reaction from phil mcnulty. What exactly is the shame of loosing to a chelsea side who have looked the best side in the country. Why should wenger come out and talk only of negatives. its not dilussional its management. They might need a couple more world class players but the ones mentioned in the media are not in that bracket and certainly overpriced. Arsenal won't pay for a 30 million pound player. They have to develop from young. Wenger will have to unearth them. wenger is the cause of all this'mess'but he is the best at finding the players to solve it so leave the man be. If you look at the table arsenal are obviously in a better position than any one else to make that step. The attack of failour even against the odds is sickening and what is this obsession with counting the years arsenal haven't won a trophy. Arsenal vs Liverpool will be interesting the clash of wenger the purist who's ridiculed for his positivety, benenitez ridiculed for his negativety. i think the columnist will go into meltdown.

  • Comment number 82.

    Almunia had his eyes closed for Drogba's second goal. With his eyes open, it would have still probably been unstoppable, but at least he would have had more chance of saving it.

    If Arsenal were a snooker player, they would be Tony Drago.

  • Comment number 83.

    #72 bobbieflowers

    Nah, Hasselbaink v Spurs


  • Comment number 84.

    My very first post on here was removed. This will be my second and final one (only because believing in free speach I want to make a point).

    I will tone down what I believe was the offending phrase.

    "Terry concluded a one-man lap of honour after the final whistle by throwing his Chelsea shirt into the crowd and carefully presenting a supporter in the Matthew Harding Stand with the armband. Redemption time."

    Mr McNulty, think about what JT was alleged to have done and think about how his actions yesterday were supposed to have redeemed him. Is this the state of society?

    Back to football...It is obvious that a gulf has emerged this season between Arsenal and ManU and Chelsea. It is Wenger's job to do something about it. He cannot do anything about it until the summer. Short term he has to "mix it up", have a plan B against some sides. Just try something different. There is no shame in that and I cannot understand Wenger's resistance to doing that. I think Arsenal played the better football than Chelsea yesterday, but where they fell down was in their defending. The commentator said that Chelsea were happy for Arsenal to have the possession as long as that possession was in front of them. I'm not sure that is true. Does any team really want to be outplayed at home? Yes, the result is what matters but if Arshavin had managed to score, rather than hit Cech's legs it would have become interesing. As for Arsenal not having won a trophy for 5 years. Remember that the Carling Cup is used for develping young/fringe players. When they got to the final a few years ago they played against a full strength Chelsea side and kept a relatively young side in that final. Even ManU played a full strength side against ManC recently (the same ManC against which an Arsenal 2nd 11 played). You either have to support Wenger in this philosophy and accept that you may not win against full strength top sides, or do away with it if winning trophies in the be all and end all. I think (for now) financial stability and future development is probably more important than trophies at Arsenal. Yes, we all want to win trophies, but you cannopt be so harsh in your assessment of Arsenal when they are still 3rd in the EPL and are regulars in the later stages of the Champions League. One has to take wider view. Breaking the wage structure and going into further debt for short term success is not the way. I for one applaud Wenger on this. If rich owners ever get bored, or creditors come knocking...

  • Comment number 85.

    At 11:16am on 08 Feb 2010, nemesis wanted wrote:


    No problem buddy, it was up for debate – I am pretty much in the same view as you, he can keep the ball very well and as you said his touch and link up play is spot on. Although I do feel that we need someone to take the pressure off Rooney, and god forbid it, if Rooney gets injured I don’t see where the goals would come from?

    Will Owen be with UTD come the summer?

  • Comment number 86.

    36. At 10:40am on 08 Feb 2010, randfish wrote:

    This is sensationalist "poppycock" even by your standards Mr McNulty.

    Randfish: Totally agree with your post 36. I wish my team Liverpool had the financial prosperity of Arsenal, considering the money spent Wenger continues to outdo the rest of the league IMO. When the rest of the top four goes bust you'll be default champions!!

  • Comment number 87.

    RE 74: Neither Wenger nor us Arsenal fans (the sensible ones that is) have ever claimed that we play as well as Barca or we aspire to attain their level of football. We merely opine that we have a similar culture of positive attacking football which no doubt has its shortcomings.

    Barca are on a different planet because they have the greatest player ever to have played football in Messi. There is no point comparing us with them.

  • Comment number 88.

    74. At 11:21am on 08 Feb 2010, I'm just Cheryl's Husband wrote:
    Arsenal fans, and indeed some deluded sports journalists like to make comparisons between their team and Barcelona.

    Yet a quick glance at a Barcelona team sheet, will usually bring you such names as Ramos,

    Ramos???? do me a favour mate!!!

  • Comment number 89.

    While I completely agree the better team won, this article is harsh to the point of the writer simply relishing the opportunity to discount all and every positive aspect of the Arsenal team, their season, and efforts last night.
    Firstly, Arsene Wenger's job is to protect his players and ensure that the majority of focus and criticism comes his way. I have no doubt Wenger will often deliberately make contentious comments to deflect the focus off of the players and onto himself. That is his job - and no one can doubt he does this well.
    Having said that, I think it was a spirited performance by Arsenal last night, albeit exposing our need (again) for a tall and physically imposing striker.
    Contrary to Phil's analysis, there were chances in the game for Arsenal, but I concede that these were too few and not well executed.
    Need I remind you Phil that Arsenal are in the top 3, having spent significantly less money than Liverpool, who are a reasonably distant fourth - and let's not even talk about the disparity in spending between Chelease, Man U and Arsenal.
    McNulty says Arsene hasn't won anything in five years and gives the impression that all things Arsenal have been nothing but failure in this time, but I argue that every time I go to watch my team play at the Emirates, I get to sit in my clubs success - whilst still maintaining a top 3 position - and healthy finances to boot.
    You can argue that Wenger should have bought a striker (and goalie) in January, but as we all saw, there was very little activity at all in January. I believe most teams shyed away from trading in the market due to debts, and the unrealistic environment left over by the Man City and Real Madrid spending binges last summer.
    Finally, and this is the crux of it, Arsenal are two positions (three at most) shy of seriously challenging the top 2.
    A big striker like Edin Dzeko (although I do admit Wenger is unlikely to to spend enough to get him), and Chamakh to add some depth to the striker position, and someone to replace Almunia.
    I believe all other positions are well covered - even if we're currently a bit wanting for form in Clichy and Walcott who have had extended periods out injured.
    As for Walcott, he's been out pretty much ALL season. It was his first start yesterday. The boy will find his feet again - just have to keep playing him. His current lack of form is about the most natural thing in the world. He needs a couple of months to get his mojo back - so plenty of time for the world cup for young Theo.
    To sum up, yes there is a gulf between the top 2 and Arsenal - but Arsenal just need a couple of adjustments to be challenging for the top. Not a bad position to be in for a club with excellent finances, one of the best stadiums in Europe, and a reasonably comfortable third spot in the most challenging premiership in the world. Nothing quite as dire as McNulty would have you believe.

  • Comment number 90.

    I’m not quite sure why The Arsenal fan base are having a dig at Phil for his review on the game, YES you did have 60% of possession, but you didn’t threaten until you were 2 goals down – same story as when you played UTD last week.
    If I was a Arsenal fan I would be quite concerned that they try and walk the ball in to the net and are so reluctant to take a shot.
    I know fabregas is a complete gem but his form over the past few weeks hasn’t been great, I know he’s recently come back from injury but he looks so frustrated when on the pitch.
    Do you honestly think he will stay for too much longer? I’m not having a dig at all I just simply don’t understand how you think that Arsenal shouldn’t be criticised.

    Yet again Arsenal in my eyes are a nearly team..which has been the story of the last 5 years.

  • Comment number 91.


    so chelsea play boring football?

    since the turn of the year our results have been:

    Chelsea 5-0 Watford
    Chelsea 7-2 Sunderland
    Preston NE 0-2 Chelsea
    Chelsea 3-0 Birmingham City
    Burnley 1-2 Chelsea
    Hull City 1-1 Chelsea
    Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal

    now thats 22 goals scored and only 4 conceeded, to me thats entertaining football.

  • Comment number 92.

    At 11:27am on 08 Feb 2010, Jamie Riley wrote:

    Yeah Unfortunately I remember the game, I don’t like to think about it too much. I had a football accumulator on and needed UTD for just under a grand. Ouch.

    Villa away – always looks like a tough fixture but I do believe if we pass the ball around as we have been doing we can walk away with maximum points.
    I would personally play Rooney on his own upfront so that we control the midfield and leave him to work his magic on the counter.

    Regarding Berba – Yeah that pass was unreal. His goal wasn’t bad at all either. Wish he would prove the critics wrong though with a bit more work rate.

  • Comment number 93.

    All Chelsea fans seem to forget how close 'Mr Chelsea' was to moving to Manchester City.
    He was and is only concerned with himself. He knew by threatening his employer he was guaranteed a wage increase by either leaving or with the club succumbing to his pressure.
    This is just one of the numerous negative JT stories, 9/11 dis-respect/assault/training ground tours etc.
    This is not somoeone who deserves to be captain. He should be ashamed of his behaviour.

    If JT could have kept his off field behaviour in check he would go down as a player of the calibre and respect of Ryan Giggs. Unfortunately in my eyes he is a great player but a pathetic person. Shame.

    Looking forward to him crying on the pitch when Man U win the league on the final day of the season

  • Comment number 94.

    RE 75: What right have to call ourselves 'Supporters' if we scream the same drivel that is written here? It is not just about Arsenal or Wenger.

    Over the last year, Benitez has been attacked enormous times by the media, Mancini branded an 'impostor', Scolari found 'failing to step out of Jose's shadow' and Paul Hart caught out of his depth.

  • Comment number 95.

    Brutal reaction to Wengers analysis of the game there Phil, but nothing that wasn't merited by Arsenals struggles last night. Arsenal simply didn't deserve anything from the game.

    Wenger for some reason seems content in his world where the most artistic and full flowing teams always win, but one look at Stoke and Blackburn just shows how pragmatic sometimes you have to be. Not pretty to look at, theres some awful performances along the way, but they get the job done.

    For me, I think Arsenal will always come unstuck unless they pack a destroyer into the midfield, if they can't pick through the opponents defence then they'll just smash it through. Chelsea have this in abundance, when the passing of Deco and Lampard and skill of Anelka doesn't work, they push Drogba and Ballack to go and cause havoc through the middle while Essien cleans up behind them. Again not pretty to watch but the ease with which Chelsea dealt with everything Arsenal threw at them was astounding.

    If it had been a boxing match I don't think Chelsea would even have blinked.

  • Comment number 96.

    #93 Simon Rose

    What drivel. I would suggest that you spend too much time believing journalists stories that are they for little other purpose than to sell newspapers.

    Terry is a footballer. That's all we need to know and we can judge him on that.

    I see his morals as dubious but I'm not one who puts him on a moral pedestal in the first place.

    John Terry, Chelsea legend, still doing the business for the Chelsea team despite the best efforts of many to try and put him off.

  • Comment number 97.

    To be honest, the only difference between the two sides playing yesterday was the contribution of one Mr.Didier Drogba.
    The man is truly on fire right now and the only complaint i have against Arsene Wenger is that i feel for all the elements of the beautiful game that arsenal have imbibed from the professor, they lack the leadership ability among the players in that final third.
    I think it's more or less the characteristic of an arsenal player these days to receive the ball and then instantly pick out via some Radio Sensor's attached to his mind the next nearest man available to pass to on the basis of some french algorithm driven into his brain by hours of practice.
    What they really lack is one or two players who are trigger happy up front.
    As yesterday's game progressed Chelsea looked more like a bunch of sumo wrestler's waiting for their feeble opponent's to come within swatting range and as soon as they did they jus thwocked the damn ball away.
    And eventually, for all the beautiful game that Arsenal display, Wenger needs to realize the result comes on the basis of Goal's scored and if you have a side challenging for the Premier League Title, you need to be able do produce your brilliance against your closest competition and not just the club that's struggling at the bottom of the table.

    I hope they fight back and show that they still want this title, but it's now seriously going to require a lot of crossed fingers for Arsenal.

    I've got mine crossed.

  • Comment number 98.

    I accept that Mr Wenger does not operate on the same kind of budget as Man Utd or Chelsea (by necessity or choice I'm not sure; if it's the latter he is not living in the real world but an idealised one which involves little debt but leads to minimal success). However, he could have bought Adam Johnson for £7m and gained one of England's finest young talents that would provide his team with needed width. He could have got Huntelaar on loan which would give a presence in the area (Huntelaar stated his desperation to play games anywhere during January) and he could have bought Begovic from Pompey which would provide a young commanding keeper of excellent ability to replace the unconvincing Almunia. These three would have cost around £12m between them and would undoubtedly improve at least the squad but arguably the first team. I know that we aren't privy to all the dealings during Jan. but when Wenger repeatedly says Arsenal won't be doing business then that suggests they aren't pursuing anyone seriously. I admire Wenger hugely, but I feel that lately he has become too proud. Flamini leaving was a big mistake (for both parties as it happens)and how they could do with his energy and strength in the midfield now. There are several issues that need to be addressed before Arsenal challenge again. RVP is in my view one of the Premiership's best, but if he is injured then that is irrelevant, and it happens fairly often. I don't disagree with selling Adebayor or Toure at all, but to not replace Adebayor is mind boggling.

  • Comment number 99.

    Dear oh dear. I'm a Chelsea supporter and even I think that Phil has been overly harsh on Arsenal here! That isn't to say that he isn't speaking some sense though.

    Arsenal defintely look like they need a go to man up front, someone who can use their strength/height (ideally both!) to fashion a goalscoring opportunity, and put that opportunity into the back of the net.

    As it is, yes, they're unlikely to beat Chelsea (and admittedly United) with they're current team and playing style. But anyone who is writing them off for the rest of the season is having a laugh. I'm keeping just as close an eye on them as I am United.

    Lets hope that Liverpool can turn them over on Wednesday though, and that United slip up as well!

  • Comment number 100.

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


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