« Dear idiots, shut up about pass completion rates | Main | Gazidis’ fingers in the till again/Arsenal salary cap points deduction risk »
Wednesday
Nov092016

Oops, wrote off Chelsea too soon

The trouble with writing a blog is that it involves making predictions. If you’re a smart blogger, you won’t make predictions, but the trouble with that is you’ll risk coming across as a fence sitter, and let’s face it, football and fence sitting are diametrically opposed.

On September 27, I wrote off Chelsea’s chances of competing for the Premier League based on a terrible performance against the Gunners, yet five weeks later they’re looking a completely different side.

Manager Antonio Conte has demonstrated his calibre by switching to a back three system and allowing lazy bastards like Fabregas and Hazard complete freedom to play an offensive game. This has not only provided Chelsea with defensive stability, but a remarkable attacking transformation has occurred.

Since the Arsenal defeat, they have won all five Premier League games, scoring 16 goals and conceding none. Those victories includes a 4-0 pasting of Man Utd and an awe-inspiring 5-0 victory against Everton on Sunday, which was about as perfect a performance from a Chelsea team as I can remember.

Liverpool are also battering teams out of sight and now sit top of the table. Arrogant Daniel Sturridge, so instrumental in Liverpool’s title charge two seasons ago under Brendan Rodgers, has been humbled. Now, Klopp only brings him on if he's desperate or the points are in the bag.

However, Man City have floundered. Pep Guardiola’s players are struggling to adapt to his nuanced tactics. It could be that his pressing game is negating their creative potential. The Pellegrini picnic is over and, like Klopp, Guardiola might need a season to discover which of his players are willing to match the physical demands placed on them – or maybe they just need to acclimatise.

A similar problem is also haunting Jose Mourinho, who is already calling players out in public for crying off injured, unwilling to put their bodies on the line.

The upshot of all this is that I now have to reinstate Chelsea as title contenders.

For the first time in 35 years, I did not watch the North London derby and settled for highlights. Spurs impress me more than Arsenal because they have resilience, something Wenger has not installed in Arsenal for over a decade. Even when they’re down on their luck and missing key players, Spurs won’t roll over.

If you add up all the points Arsenal have lost in big games due to Laurent Koscielny clangers, it would be very revealing, and he was at it again on Sunday. Koscielny is an accident waiting to happen. Like the club he plays for, he always flatters to deceive and reveals his flaws eventually.

From where I’m sitting, Arsenal have been lucky this season and don’t deserve to be above Tottenham. Against Leicester, they were lucky to get a point when the home side were denied a stick-on pen in the last minute, and at home to Southampton they got a goal at the death that should have been disallowed due to a head injury in the box. Wenger’s men narrowly beat Burnley, but only after Koscielny handled the ball before scoring.

Most of the key decisions in games have gone for Arsenal this season, but they still don’t look convincing. Meanwhile, Wenger is busy destroying his only world-class player, Alexis Sanchez. He plays him up front in every game and never rests him. By February/March, he’ll be ruined.

Note: Arsenal Truth is now on Twitter @TruthArsenal.

—oo— 

Comments should be intelligible and relevant. All others will be unread and binned.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (9)

You said it all. This Chelsea squad is a ravaging armoured tank. If they sustain this momentum you will be justified.

November 9, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterjimoh Mohammed

Aren't you usually the first person to dismiss luck and key decisions going your way/against you as complete nonsense?

Anyway, as for the challengers, I'm not sure we've learnt that much more than we already knew apart from Chelsea who look good now he's found the right formation.

As for Liverpool, yeah they're scoring for fun but that was the case last season as well when they were the highest scorers in the league between Jan-May, the problem is that their defensive frailties still haven't been addressed. Teams who have that "you score two, we'll score four" approach tend to come unstuck eventually (Liverpool under Rodgers being a prime example).

If he can sort that out then they'll be right up there, I just wonder what will happen if the forwards hit a poor patch and they're unable to grind out results. Surely they can't keep it up all season?

City look inconsistent, not much has changed there either but when they look good (like against Barca) you can certainly see the potential.

Spurs look the same as well, nice and compact with a great work ethic but they're far too reliant on Kane's goals and I can see them struggling if they stay in the CL until February time.

Utd are the only ones who've been consistent - consistently bad. I'm actually starting to wonder if Mourihno's lost his touched.

As for Sanchez, well that was well timed as he's injured and could be out for 6 wks. I think everyone saw that coming (apart from Wenger of course).

__
AT

I'm not usually one to blame decisions for a team under or over-performing and tend to believe things get balanced out over a season, but there's little point denying Arsenal have had a disproportionate amount of key decisions go on in their favour thus far.

It's also a bit unfair to say Liverpool came unstuck eventually when they took their title challenge to the last game. It was actually good management. The team did not have quality defenders so Rodgers focused fully on the players' attacking strengths.

If he'd tried to balance the defence and the attack midway through the season they probably would have fallen short at both ends, so he did the right thing at that period of the team's evolution.

November 9, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterhenry8

You called other club's players "bastard and arrogant". Am quite sure your Arsenal team players are all bastards and useless (including Arsene Wenger). That's why they weren't crowned EPL champs for some time!

__
AT

I agree, although most of the blame should be reserved for the tactical, incompetent berk running the team.

November 9, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterklazzik

Well, it's just when things aren't going our way and fans come on here and blame it on injuries or bad luck you're the first person to tell them to shut up (& rightly so). It should work both ways.

And I don't think I'm being unfair on Rodgers, he made a choice to ignore the defence from the start of the season. It's not like he got half way through then realised they sucked at defending. And remember, in the second half of the previous season, Liverpool managed more clean sheets than anyone else (7 from their last 12 games), so if anything they went into that season in good form defensively.

It wasn't forced on him at all.

__
AT

Point is, he challenged for the title, so Rodgers deserves credit for that. He took a team that had not made the Champions League in four seasons and within two came within a single game of winning the league.

Then he lost Suarez to Barca and Sturridge only played 12 games the following season due to injury, so he was debited 50 goals. In retrospect, I really don't see how he can be heavily criticised.

November 9, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterhenry8

"Point is, he challenged for the title, so Rodgers deserves credit for that. He took a team that had not made the Champions League in four seasons and within two came within a single game of winning the league.

Then he lost Suarez to Barca and Sturridge only played 12 games the following season due to injury, so he was debited 50 goals. In retrospect, I really don't see how he can be heavily criticised"

His defensive record in those two seasons was woeful & the sort of record you'd expect from a team in the bottom half of the table. Also, Klopp managed to turn a Saurez/Sturridge-less team into the highest goalscoers in the league within a few months of taking over and he managed it with the same squad. Yes he challenged and I'm not saying he's a terrible manager, I think he has a lot of potential, I just think Suarez's brilliance that season masked obvious frailities in his approach, something that was laid bare the following season and a bit.

Anyway, we're veering off course from my original point which was that teams who struggle defensively rarely win the league even if they score a lot of goals, that was just as example. That old cliche "defenses win leagues" exists because no side has won the league in the last 20 odd yrs having conceded more than 45 goals which is what they're on course for again.

__
AT

Of course Suarez papered over the defensive cracks, but then again maybe another manager wouldn't have got as much out of Suarez as Rodgers did, or would have put him in a different system or utilised him in a way that nullified Sturridge and Sterling.

Managers make a difference. Look at the difference between Leicester under Ranieri and Pearson with practically the same players.

But you're right, ordinarily a solid defence is the cornerstone of a title-winning team.

November 11, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterhenry8

AT - were you surprised then that Rodgers didn't get a higher profile job, after his efforts on Merseyside?

__
AT

Not really, there are not many bigger clubs than Liverpool and he doesn't have the same profile or experience as most of the managers in the very top jobs.

November 17, 2016 | Unregistered Commentermarinersmullet

Where are you on Pardew, might I ask AT?

__
AT

Can't stand him. Bad loser and disrespectful. Hope he fails in everything he does.

November 22, 2016 | Unregistered Commentermarinersmullet

I wish you'd get off the fence sometimes, AT.

__
AT

;-)

November 23, 2016 | Unregistered Commentermarinersmullet

AT, I'll mark you down as a maybe, for now.

In all seriousness though, I tend to concur, talk about ego, vanity etc.

He's the sort of guy you want to buy for what he's worth, and sell for what he thinks he's worth.

November 23, 2016 | Unregistered Commentermarinersmullet
Editor Permission Required
You must have editing permission for this entry in order to post comments.