Monday, May 07, 2007

Arsenal 1 - Chelsea 1: Schadenfreude is not enough.

I expected a niggly, frustrating game full of snide challenges and I guess that's exactly what we were served up at the Grove yesterday, in a match and atmosphere full of venom.

Coming up the steps to the stadium, it was clear the crowd were up for this one: inflatable mobile-phones were in abundance, as were chants relating to Msr. Cole. It's a shame that it took a pretty visceral hatred of one of our ex players to motivate the crowd into an atmosphere, but there you go.

Indeed, real enmity was palpable yesterday. Whether it be the chants of 'Liv-ah-poool' coming from the Arsenal fans or the 'que sera, sera' chants from the Chelsea fans; whether it be Steve Clarke making gestures of 'zero' (trophies) to the Arsenal fans as he trooped off the field, or Mourinho, Lampard or Terry all 'clapping' the Arsenal fans' hail of abuse as they exited; whether it be Terry spitting abuse at the referee at any given opportunity and Lampard niggling and winding up the opposition (particularly Cesc) from the get-go; whether it be Arsenal fans celebrating at the end, not jubilant at our team winning, but at preventing Chelsea from a league triumph.

It was all rather pathetic. We can mock Chelsea for a lack of class, and they have little - Terry is possibly the most despicable individual to captain the national team in my life-time, and his manager's actions at the end perhaps only emphasise why so many people revelled in Chelsea's failure yesterday - but to revel in the misfortune of others - schadenfreude - makes us little better than those Spurs fans who celebrate every draw against us like a title winning moment. Our club, and our fans, should be better than that.

Somewhere amongst this a scrappy game of football was played; not one I particularly wish to dwell upon, I must say.

We started with a four central midfielders playing in midfield, one of which - Denilson - who we hadn't seen for some time. Why Wenger decided that now would be the moment to drop/rest Hleb is beyond me. A game like this would be the ideal forum for his trickery, and whilst he bottled one chance at the end, he had another effort well saved by Cech, and he created opportunities against a stretched Chelsea back line.

The BBC described Chelsea's performance as 'remarkable', and they certainly showed a great spirit to maintain some form of cohesion throughout the second half. They didn't deserve to win, however, and what was more remarkable (or predictable) was our inability to put the game to bed. We spurned chance after chance - Adebayor and Gallas being particularly culpable - and whilst our midfield quartet played some lovely football, it was another case of profligacy coming home to haunt us. Predictably, after missing our chances, we let Chelsea back into the game and they took their chance with a professionalism that emphasises why they're above us in the league this year. And had it not been for a superb save by Jens in the dying moments, it could have been worse.

Chelsea didn't look particularly special, but defended and harried well. Mikel looks a real prospect and Essien was excellent, again. What I wish, and what I think puts Chelsea down in so many persons estimation, is their constant gamesmanship, their constant sniping. Kicking the ball away at free-kicks, throwing the ball past players instead of too them when free-kicks are conceded, feigning injury, harrying the referee, constant fouling: it's all there and Wiley did very little, aside from the deserved sending off, to deal with it. Undoubtedly, Cesc will be pilloried for throwing the ball at Lampard - but he had thrown the ball at him to start with, and Lampard seemed the more interested in continuing and exacerbating the Carling Cup spat. But then I suppose Lampard is English and Cesc is Spanish, so I doubt the media will do anything aside from absolve Lampard of any sins, yet again.

So, in some ways, it was obviously delightful to stop this current Chelsea side from winning the league. They play dull, financially 'doped' football, full of gamesmanship and devoid of any real flair.

But schadenfreude is not enough. In two years we've sunk to the level of our great rivals, revelling in the failures of our, presently, more successful neighbours.

I stayed and clapped the team during their post-match, post-season 'lap of celebration/thanks/something' but that the stadium was half-empty said a lot. We must do better next year. We need new players and perhaps some fresh ideas. But more on that in the weeks to follow, I hope.


Anonymous said...

As a Man U supporter I thought Arsenal were garbage, at home, 3rd place to go for 1 nil up and against 10 men. At least the Chavs show passion and commitment. Of course you wouldn't have Terry in your team ( well he isn't French after all)

Are you Spurs in disguise?

Anonymous said...

did u see your lot against 'siddy' lol

Anonymous said...

could be worse could be (owned) by foreigners!

Anonymous said...

I stood in the clockend at Highbury in 1991. We went 2-0 up. the Gooners were eerily quiet as the Chelsea fans sang continuously. An hour later Arsenal were leading 3-2 ( Wrighty's first Arsenal goal!). The Gooners were still eerily quiet and the Chelsea fans were still singing continuously! Pretty much sums up Arsenal really. You have fans who do not really deserve the successes you have had over the years while our fans have had to endure 25 years of being in the doldrums. When I first watched Chelsea in 1968 our fan base was as big as both Arsenal and Liverpool's..just look at our attendances during that period. But that base was lost during those 25 years where debt, property developers and hooligans ripped Chelsea apart.
Meanwhile, Arsenal, Liverpool and United had their glory years in the modern era and got their glory hunters to bolster their fan bases.
But, since 1991 when Bates finally fought off the threat of losing Stamford Bridge to the property sharks and where he cleared out the hooligans and then gradually re-built Stamford Bridge until 2003, where it was now a viable enterprise to make Abromavich purchase the club in 2003.
Now it's Chelsea's turn to attract the glory hunters and probably in the next 20 years or so the fan base will be as big as Arsenal's and Liverpool's again.
But yesterday at the Emirates Stadium (Impressive as it is), half the it emptied before Arsenal's players could complete their end of season lap of honour. And it reminded me of that Highbury match back in 1991 when even though they have a big fan base the passioned support is just not there. Perhaps, they need a bit of time in the doldrums just as we did...just to appreciate things a bit more and show a bit more class than they showed yesterday!

Anonymous said...

Fucking morons that think just because you get drunk and shout your mouth off at a football match it makes you better fan. Where has this ridiculous conception come from? I pay my money like everyone else and never leave before the end of the game but if I CHOOSE not to sing, how dare you question my loyalty to the team I support? Passion isn't about mouthing off all the time.

Anonymous said...

Did you really manage to get through all that rubbish without mentioning that the gooners were playing against 10 men, and yet still managed to be outthought, outfought and outplayed.
Terry has at least heart which is more than can be said for the mercenaries at the Emirates.

Goonerboy said...

I doubt Terry could out-think much. Maybe a ten year old child, or something.

Anonymous said...

terry is overated, and cried like a baby! arsenal had nothing to play for unlike the chavs who put in an obscene effort towards the end, but ultimately ran out of talent. get over it chavs its gone!

Anonymous said...

I agree with you in general re: schadenfreude, but they are so vile, on so many levels, that i will ALWAYS under any cicumstances revel in the misfortune of Chelski.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Yes it is not necessary to lower our levels to those of the Spurs fans. We should have more class than that.

The Arsenal team lacked balance. Starting with Denilson and Diaby in the wide midfield positions congested the midfield.

Failing to kill teams off punished Arsenal again! When you do not score the goals you have to rely on the defence to shore things up.

Conceded again! This is unacceptable. The defence will have to be tightened up. If this is not done then forget it for next year!

Anonymous said...

Blue till i die - fair history except that 1) Chelsea were popular and fashionable in the 60's and early 70's without ever having been successful or indeed particularly outstanding in any way.
2) Your 1991 recollection is completely false.....the only game i can think of that might match your description was some years later, and wrighty's first goal was not against chelsea in any year.

3) Highbury had cack accoustics, and unless it was really rocking always sounded pretty quiet once it went all seater, but the section you are in always sounded the loudest. Also away fans tend to be a loud bunch...

4)Arsenal - glory days in the modern era - maybe in the wenger years, but you'll find most of the fan base are fairly long standing

5) Nice glossing over of the Chelsea cousin;s a Chelsea fan and only today he was saying he tries to avoid any chelsea fans over a certain age...

To the rest

We lack width...Wenger has commented on this twice this week....losing Reyes so soon after pires really shagged our pre-season plans. He seems keen to address this. Also Henry and Van P are strikers who create a degree of width themselves and have been missed.

Chelsea's character was admirable in the last 20 mins, but by then the game should have been out of sight. Essien, Terry are both strong characters who I'd love at the arse (though JT seemed more mental than I've seen him in years on Sunday, and was generally taking the invetibality of losing the title very personally). Lampard is overrated and basically lacks balls at the highest level.

I think we'll be a lot closer to them next year, but signings and weeding out of weaker elements are needed

Goonerboy said...

I like aspects of Terry's personality - his drive to win and heart - but I don't think he's a very nice individual, and the way he conducts himself on the field annoys me.

I agree with Mat: we've lacked width all year. Arsene should have addressed this in January, but didn't. We need goalscoring wingers next year, or we will struggle to challenge again.

Anonymous said...

Did you see our players revel in a home draw? No. Nor did our fans. They took the p*ss out of Chelsea. The Mancs fans would take the p*ss out of Chelsea in our position as well.
Outfought and outplayed? Who had the best chances throughout the match? Which teams' right back was it who hit the bar seconds from the end? Chelsea only showed desperation to win 20 minutes from the end, but they had to as they were in the Last Chance saloon. Perhaps instead of repeating parrot fashion Mourinho's mantra about being so proud of his players perhaps Chelsea fans should question why they didn't show the same desire to win against Liverpool in the week, why they were so poor against Newcastle & Bolton in must win games. It's all spin, it's all nonsense as usual, and the idiots (including some Gooners) are falling for it.
As for us? Get TH14 & RvP fit, buy Ribery, jettison Hleb and work on dead balls in both attack & defence. That way, with no new stadium syndrome, there are no excuses for not getting the new season off to a flyer.

Anonymous said...

Mat Wade....Sorry mate, your memory's putting in a poor show! I went to Arsenal v Chelsea on 5/10/91 at Highbury and we were 2 up in the first half ( Le Saux & Wilson ). I'm 95% certain Ian Wright scored his first goal that day to help Arsenal win 3-2.
True Arsenal have a genuine long standing fan base. Helped by a well run football club over the years that managed consistent success in the 70's, 80's & 90's before the Wenger era.
In contrast, Chelsea went into meltdown from 1974 onwards to the early nineties and most football clubs would loose their fan base in similar circumstances.

Anonymous said...

Ian wright signed for Arsenal in September 1991 for £2.5m, which was at the time a club record fee. He scored on his debut against Leicester City in a League Cup tie, and then scored a hat-trick on his League debut against Southampton. He won the Golden Boot in his first season by scoring 29 league goals, five of which were for Palace, and 31 in all competitions