Archive for May 7th, 2007

Arsenal 1 – 1 Chelsea: I don’t want to be Spurs

382 comments May 7th, 2007

Are we turning into Spurs? That’s not a reference to the forthcoming white kit, but more that yesterday the only thing that could vindicate an otherwise disappointing season was victory over our big rivals – Chelsea.

We didn’t manage it, of course. We were very lucky to go infront from the spot – we hadn’t really looked like scoring up until then. Adebayor won plenty of aerial ball against Terry but looked uneasy in front of goal, whilst Baptista was as beastly as ever. In midfield, the surprise inclusion of Denilson saw a remarkably narrow set-up (even by our standards) with Cesc and Diaby on the flanks.

After Boulharouz was sent off and Gilberto tucked away yet another goal, we looked like we might go on and win it. However, in the second half we were guilty of overplaying and allowed Chelsea back into it. Michael Essien, their outstanding player, was again the man who pegged us back with a deft header from an outstanding Wright-Phillips cross.

The last twenty minutes were cup-tie-esque, as Chelsea needed the three points to stay in the title race. Salomon Kalou’s effort was tipped over by Jens Lehmann, before Emmanuel Eboue blasted a shot off the crossbar, but nil nil it was.

I politely clapped, but I didn’t cheer. The scenes of Spurs fans celebrating their 2-2 draw with us like they’d won the league a few weeks back were still strong in my mind. The lap of honour to commemmorate the final home game of the season was a decidedly sober affair – many fans had already left the stadium, and their was unsurprisingly no warm goodbye for the likes of Julio Baptista.

I couldn’t help but wish that this game had mattered more. Believe me, Chelsea knew the game was already up too. This is a side that rushes players back to fitness as soon as is humanly possible, yet in this side they took the field without half a dozen first-teamers. They knew the result was irrelevant.

And for us, even more so. Yes it would be nice to come third, but when this fixture came out at the start of the season, we all hoped for it to be a title-decider that didn’t just hand the trophy to Man U.

It’s been a funny old season, and yesterday it ended. We go to Portsmouth next week but I can’t see how the players will motivate themselves for that one. Inexperience and injuries have made this a true transitional season, and while that has its merits, I can’t help but hope we’ll be serving up something very different in 2007/08.

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