Chelsea 6 Arsenal 0 – Arsenal Humiliated On Wenger’s Special Day
When the sun finally sets on Arsene Wenger’s illustrious career, it’s safe to say that he won’t look back too fondly on his 1,000th game in charge of Arsenal. In the 18-year long tenure to date we’ve endured some humiliating displays especially in recent years, such as the 8-2 mauling at Old Trafford or the 2-1 Carling Cup final defeat to Birmingham City both in 2011.
But none of them have quite left as sour a taste in the mouths of Arsenal fans like the 6-0 battering handed to us by Chelsea yesterday at Stamford Bridge. The home side didn’t even need to be at their best to comfortably score six unanswered goals, as a calamitous display from the visitors in which we gifted Chelsea all six of their goals surely now ends any hopes of winning our first Premier League title since 2004.
It was all realistically over within seven minutes although Arsenal, unchanged from last weekend’s victory in the North London derby, could have taken the lead in the fourth as Tomas Rosicky fed through Olivier Giroud but the Frenchman’s shot was weak and easily saved by Petr Cech.
The first gift happened just a few moments after that Giroud chance with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain responsible for the initial of several Arsenal mistakes that resulted in the ball in our net. He was caught in the middle of the park, prompting a quick Chelsea break through Andre Schurrle. Schurrle found Samuel Eto’o who cut inside and curled the ball beautifully into the far corner, leaving Wojciech Szczesny helpless.
Two minutes later it was 2-0, this time Santi Cazorla found himself caught in possession with Schurrle again homing in on our goal, only this time he took it upon himself and buried it into the bottom corner with another good finish.
Two early goals conceded completely of our own making after we got dispossessed far too easily, and then carved apart due to a lack of midfield protection in front of our back four.
As if this wasn’t a bad enough start, in the 15th minute Oxlade-Chamberlain used his arm to divert an Eden Hazard shot wide of the goal after it had beaten Szczesny, although it was Kieran Gibbs who was sent off in a remarkable balls up by referee Andre Marriner.
Marriner seemed convinced it was Gibbs who had that final touch, despite Oxlade-Chamberlain admitting it was him in an incident providing additional proof that further video technology is needed for referee’s to get big decisions right. It would have only taken five seconds for any extra referee/observer to spot it was The Ox that had the touch and this embarrassment could’ve been avoided.
There are even debates as to whether or not the handball even warranted a red card, with the ball not heading goal wards thus not denying a goal scoring opportunity.
Still, penalty it was and down to ten men we were with Hazard converting the penalty and Chelsea 3-0 up. The referee incompetence aside, we had already committed suicide by this stage but it was an impossible task from here to overturn a three-goal deficit with a man less.
Lukas Podolski was sacrificed for Thomas Vermaelen to balance the defensive set up and the game fortunately settled somewhat, although The Ox was again dispossessed in the middle with David Luiz’s shot from the break deflected, forcing a smart save from Szczesny.
Arsenal enjoyed a rare spell of possession towards the end of the half but couldn’t create any serious opportunities, before Oscar made it 4-0 just before the break, tapping home from close range substitute Fernando Torres’ simple ball across goal after we again gave Chelsea far too much space in behind our defence.
A Giroud shot into the side netting and Rosicky effort from distance that tested Cech saw about the end of the half without amending the score line, and we were in the dressing room a miserable 4-0 down at half time without a prayer of getting back into it and enduring an arduous task of damage limitation against a Jose Mourinho side hungry to put us to the sword.
The Ox was brought out of the firing line for Mathieu Flamini and Laurent Koscielny came off for Carl Jenkinson as Wenger utilised his final substitutions at the break, hoping to lock down the midfield and give some more support to our flailing defence.
Initial signs suggested that this hadn’t quite worked, as Torres easily brushed off Vermaelen in our area and only a last ditch sliding block from Per Mertesacker denied the Spaniard, with Szczesny saving Luiz’s follow up shot well from close range.
The second half plodded slowly along without much incident and fortunately with Chelsea not as rampant as they had been in the first, but Arsenal couldn’t find any kind of fluidity anywhere on the pitch. We struggled to keep the ball or create any real chances, even our first and only corner of the game didn’t get close to beating the first man.
Cazorla did get into a good position in the left hand channel of the box and faded a low shot just wide of the far post, before Flamini couldn’t properly connect to a Mikel Arteta free kick as his free header went down into the ground rather than anywhere near the net.
Just when it looked like we might get through the second half unscathed, Chelsea scored twice in five minutes to pour salt into our already gaping wound.
The fifth was again completely avoidable as Rosicky gave the ball away carelessly just outside our area, and Oscar’s shot from range bounced awkwardly for Szczesny who could only help it into the net.
Mohamed Salah then added a sixth in the 71st minute with a low finish having beaten a half-arsed Arsenal offside trap.
The game did thankfully peter out from here without further demoralisation for Arsenal and 6-0 it finished, Chelsea’s biggest win in the Premier League under Mourinho and their biggest ever over Arsenal.
It was shite. Pure and simple shite and an absolute cluster fuck of a performance that really should’ve been an awful lot better from eleven men representing Arsenal Football Club.
There’s no point even looking at the contribution of individuals as I normally do as they were all equally abysmal, but individuals is exactly what they were. There was nothing to suggest that this was a team who was competing for the League as all kind of structure and communication appeared to be void for the 90 minutes that followed the start of the game.
It’s another balls up of a big game against a competing side in the League, and that’s 17 goals conceded now in three away games against Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea and that suggests there’s a problem.
We can do it pretty consistently against the lower placed teams in the division, but there has been an inability to get results against those around us for some years now.
After the game, Wenger rightly said that focus must now go on how we respond to this defeat against Swansea City on Tuesday. But questions do need to be asked as to why there is a continued failure against the other top teams. People at the Club are being paid world-class wages, but can’t compete against other world-class teams when push comes to shove.
I love and admire Wenger for all he’s done at Arsenal, but you can’t help but wonder after games like yesterday if his best is behind him. It was a day that was there for him to celebrate a momentous milestone in style, whereas it turned out to be a stark reminder that when it comes to the big games we bottle it.
That’s a mentality that has been consistent for years and the constant with that time period is the Manager. Opinion on whether Wenger should get a new deal changes thick and fast, mine included, but it’s hard to envisage any real change in philosophy at the Club as long as he is there, and the predictable way we set up and are able to beat the lesser teams but struggle against the top teams hardly looks likely to shift.
What we can hope for is success in the FA Cup and a trophy under our belt so that the core of this team, that is set to remain for the next few years at least, has won something collectively and can take confidence from that.
And I hope we achieve that for the player’s sake, the fans and also for the Manager. How long Wenger remains in charge at Arsenal remains to be seen, it would be interesting to see the BetVictor betting offers on that. But he deserves to have one final moment of success before he does inevitably drift off into that sunset.
That won’t happen playing like we did yesterday though, so there’s plenty of work to be done before we can add to that cobwebbed honours board at the Emirates Stadium.