Arsenal 0-0 Chelsea
One point from six now, and yet we remain in charge of our own destiny – just about – thanks to our twelfth man, ‘results elsewhere’. God bless Results Elsewhere and all who sail in her!
That our closest rivals now – or at least, for now – are not from London but from Newcastle will perhaps be as much as surprise to them as it is to everyone else. The Geordies are on cracking form.
The whiff of tottering-over-the-line is in the air though after another strangely listless performance from us. The dreaded handbrake (the on one, not the off one) made a reappearance in Wenger’s post-match interview, which probably tells you all you need to know. In fact, it’s is one-word match report, isn’t it?
Arsenal Match Report
By East Lower at the Emirates
On the face of it, these were two teams that were so far from home and dry in the race for Champions League qualification that they were still gulping seawater, and yet the game was tight, slow and cautious. Chelsea made wholesale changes, came for a point and sat on the game accordingly.
Ultimately, I think it was a game that both teams were too scared to lose, and it showed.
Not that we couldn’t have won it. Early on, van Persie hit the upright from a Walcott free kick, and in our best period of the match, just before half time, Koscielny hit the bar himself and van Persie fired straight at Cech. In the end though, the final whistle came as a blessing. It was pretty turgid stuff.
At times, the ball was like a hot potato for Arsenal. Our passing was poor and lacked invention. Ramsey was willing but wayward, Rosicky out of fizz and only really Song shone in the middle. Without the metronomic and underrated Mikel Arteta, and with both Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain completely shackled, getting through was our main problem.
I lost count of the number of times Arsenal players on the ball shrugged their shoulders in frustration at the lack of options in front of them – symptomatic of the difficulties we were having creating space and opportunities.
All our substitutions came in the middle of the field in an attempt to remedy things, and our last throw of the dice was introducing a left-back for a winger. Despite van Persie looking off the pace – it was his 50th game of the season – there was still no room for Chamakh. As an indictment on our forward options, that’s about all you need to know.
The fact is, van Persie needs a rest but we have nobody else that offers a goal threat in his position. It should never have come to this. That we remain third with only one operational striker is a miracle.
Now, it’s all about dragging ourselves over the line, but we’ll have to do that without Walcott, hamstrung yesterday and out for the season. A good opportunity for Gervinho, and indeed for the returning Diaby, so where one door closes, etc.
Our last three games are winnable ones, but only if we rediscover some spark and more energy.
I’ve a bit run out of battle cries though. Final word goes to my cousin Capability Mike, who texted me this last night:
“I think if the league finished today we’d all be happy”.