Well, it wasn’t to be.
Arsenal passed and probed but couldn’t move the parked Russian tank. Some might say that Chelsea did what title winners must, but I would say they displayed the mentality of a Sunderland or a Stoke City – making Mourinho no more than just a glorified Tony Pulis.
We can compete
One of the common accusations thrown at Arsenal in recent years is that they don’t have the know how to get results against big sides. And it was a valid criticism – our record against last season’s top four was simply shoddy. This time around we are much better; we haven’t lost to Liverpool and City in the league, and we defeated United on their own ground in the Cup. Chelsea still remain a hoodoo team but I don’t think we were as outplayed as we were in previous years.
We competed toe to toe against the Blues, and on a different day we might have claimed all three points. I also noticed a couple of tactical fouls by our players to stop Chelsea from advancing on the counter (Nacho Monreal and Francis Coquelin), which is a sign of maturity – is a quality we’ve so often lacked over the years. Although I am disappointed by the result, I am proud of our performance. We weren’t intimidated, we didn’t hide, we fought back. That’s a sign of champions – or at least future champions.
We haven’t missed Fabregas
Cesc Fabregas is a great player. There’s no question about that, but did we really need him? We had Mesut Ozil (who is the best No.10 in the Premier League in my opinion), as well as Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and even Tomas Rosicky. Yes Chelsea shouldn’t have got Fabregas but we are not that rich to make a £25 million tactical purchase. Had we bought the Spaniard, I don’t think Alexis Sanchez would have been wearing the red of North London. I believe Arsene was right to let Fabregas go and we have probably a better suited player to our team in the indefatigable Alexis.
Chelsea and Mourinho fear Arsenal
For all the talk of Arsene’s record against Mourinho and our record jn general against Chelsea, there is genuine fear for us more than City and United. Let’s not forget that Mourinho blocked Demba Ba’s move at the last moment as he thought signing Ozil made us title challengers and Ba would have added depth. This time around we just didn’t make a good start. The reaction of the Chelsea players at full time shows how much they valued a point at the Emirates.
The title was always going to Chelsea but second is still in our hands and let’s focus on that. Runners up and an FA Cup wouldn’t be bad in a season that started so poorly it was the worst since Wenger took over.