A complete and utter shambles is a way of describing what happened against Chelsea. We played for 90 minutes, and the most exciting bit for us was when the referee sent off the wrong player. We all know the reason why and it’s absolutely silly nothing has been done to reprimand the referee (or at least his linesman who confirmed the handball was Gibbs’s), but that would distract from the rest of what happened.
I’ve seen a lot of people singling out this or that player, or Arsene getting the tactics wrong, or God for allowing terrible things to happen to good people. Truth is, everyone was to blame. It was a poor performance from the players, and tactically we were outmatched. If you’re going to single out the main point of weakness, then it was in the midfield, where the casual giving away of the ball from everyone in there cost us dearly. Maybe it was a lack of focus on the day, but the loss was definitely more defined by how terrible we were than how good Chelsea are. Obviously. I mean we handled the best team in Europe better than we did them.
But here’s where my thinking diverges from the masses. A lot of previously positive people have used this result as a catalyst for turning on Wenger, saying that when we’ve faced the top teams this season, we haven’t been up for it and been smashed. While we have suffered three devastating scorelines, one very important thing to note is that these are just three games. The pattern isn’t even as evident as some would have us believe. We beat Liverpool in two of the three encounters with them this season, Spurs never even scored a goal against us, we embarrassed a very good Everton side in the FA Cup, we dealt with Dortmund before injuries ravaged their own season (so if Klopp can’t handle an injury crisis at BVB, what makes you think he’s more equipped to handle one than Arsene?), and of course we blew Napoli away when we first faced them. This is the narrative of a season: some you win, some you lose, some were born to sing the blues.
Anyway, back to my main point: yes the result is humiliating, I have a headache, and my week has been ruined before it’s even started, but it is just one result. We are only seven points behind, with a game in hand. And given that our best performances versus the top sides this season have generally come at home, facing City next week is not as daunting as it would be if we were going to their house. Not only that, but of the eight games remaining, five of them are home fixtures. Honestly, the team I’m most worried about facing is Everton at Goodison Park.
Meanwhile, Chelsea are mired in the Champions League, have to face Liverpool away, and have difficulty with some of the smaller sides. Manchester City is still a very good side, but they are no longer steaming forward like a great freight train. The team that will be up at the top up ’til the very end is the Liverpuldian one. They look unbreakable at the moment. That said, we’re only three points behind them and there’s eight games left to go. Eight. That’s still 24 points up for grabs. I doubt we’ll get all 24 of them, but even if we manage 20, we will be up there near the top. The season is not over.
And imagine (I know it’s hard at this moment) if we beat City next weekend. All of a sudden people will give us a chance again.
In summation: the result was shit. Everything about the game was shit, but the season is NOT over. We’re in the FA Cup and we are still in the mix for the title (anyone who says otherwise needs to go back to primary school and re-take basic mathematics). It’s easy to get carried away after a result like we just experienced, but don’t just yet. To employ an overused cliche – we may have lost the battle, but not the war. Fight on you Gunners.
But hey, if you think it’s all over, we’re getting relegated next season, and Arsene is a figure akin to the Antichrist, please remember: I’m just (very sadly right now) pulling this stuff out of my Arse.