Oops, wrote off Chelsea too soon
Wednesday, November 9, 2016 at 3:13PM
Arsenal Truth

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.

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