As I arrive home tired and slightly bedraggled I have had a fair amount of time to cogitate over today's defeat to our rather unsophisticated brothers from West London. Firstly Chelsea's side was full of experienced multimillion pound players who have played together for several years. Secondly I don't like them but they are probably the hardest side to beat in the world at the moment, there simply isn't a club side around that is so packed with talent that can also defend so solidly.
Drogba is almost their club emblem and epitomised just what a shallow bunch of hypocrites they are as a collective, on one hand he is one of the greatest strikers of his generation, but on the other he is also one of the worst sportsmen of his generation and behaves like a small child with an ASBO on regular occasions. That is Chelsea, they are not a pleasant group of human beings and their success has been purchased by a Russian criminal with blood on his hands, but they are a bloody good football team.
There were many reasons for our defeat today. The main one in my eyes was that Chelsea were better in the two keys areas of the pitch, they were more potent in attack and more resolute in defence. It does not help that two of our best strikers were out injured and that as a result we lacked a focal point, Eduardo looks low on confidence and really could do with a goal at the moment. Drogba is a physical beast and scores some simply incredible goals, his first was a fantastic finish and the second an unstoppable free kick.
The big concern for me was that he seemed to know that Gallas was the weak link, he kept away from Vermaelen and targetted Gallas from early on, this battle he comprehensively won and this turned the game in Chelsea's favour. Anelka is also a very dangerous player, his pace and instinct were always a threat on the counter. I thought Traore and Vermaelen did well today, but Gallas and Sagna did not. Sagna was at fault for both of the first two goals, he left Cole in far too much space on both occasions, sloppy defending, while Gallas was poorly positioned for both. In stark contrast to our defense Chelsea mopped up numerous shots and crosses by just playing with discipline and staying tight.
Overall it was not a 3-0 game to watch, we controlled the game for long periods, we had some decent chances in both halves which we failed to take, our midfield looked neat and tidy for the first seventy minutes. The problem was that we didn't take our half chances, Eduardo demonstrated this best by taking an extra touch when in a great position through on goal in the early second half. We didn't test Cech enough, there were too many slightly heavy passes and touches in the crucial areas. And when we did score at a time when Chelsea looked nervy, the referee bizarrely ruled it out for 'dangerous play' when Eduardo did nothing of the sort. Then when we had a good penalty shout that the referee ignored Vela being barged to the ground. It was not to be our day.
The performance of Andre Marriner does deserve a mention, and if he was not bribed the it was truly one of the poorest refereeing performances I have seen for a while. He let numerous fouls from Chelsea go unpunished, particularly from Mikel and especially in the second half. Mikel had committed at least two, maybe three, yellow card tackles before the ref bothered booking him. Having been booked he then committed a blatant act of dissent by picking up the ball and walking away with it when we tried to take the free kick, the limp and inconsistent Marriner did nothing and undermined his won authority once more. There was zero consistency with his decision making, he allowed Ivanovic to play rugby on several occasions, while every time an Arsenal player was hauled down it was invariably just a little chat and a license to foul from the impotent ref.
Overall our weaknesses were exposed once again, despite being the better side for long periods we failed to make it count and were left cursing some slack defending. It is no surprise that we came up slightly short because Chelsea are a very good side full of experienced 30 million pound players. Chelsea are side that have been built with money in an unsustainable manner, it is a miracle that Arsene even has us competing with them, I would rather see us win nothing but do things the right way than become the amoral money machine that Chelsea have become.
Listening to Arsene's comments in the press conference I cannot disagree with much he says, the decision to disallow our goal certainly made a big difference and the scoreline certainly flattered Chelsea. However we have conceded 18 goals this season, that is more than either Villa, Man City, Stoke or Birmingham, and that is not good enough. The balance is not right in attack either, without RVP and Bendtner we lack the players to suit a three man forward line. Above all we must remember that we have a fantastic bunch of talented players and that we are not far off having what it takes, the understanding and solidity that Chelsea have cannot be created overnight, it takes patience and time to build a successful team.