Archive for September 20th, 2007

Arsenal 3 – 0 Sevilla: A picture of harmony at the Emirates as Chelsea implode

Add comment September 20th, 2007

Sevilla have won the UEFA Cup two years in a row, and last season were within a couple of points of topping La Liga.  If this was a big test for a young Arsenal side, then you have to say they passed it with a clutch of A*s.

Seville are obviously a decent side and played some good stuff, but they reminded me of our team last year – fantastic flowing football but a lack of end product.  This year, we’re entirely different, and the scoreline reflected that.

Philippe Senderos returned in place of the rested Gilberto, but other than that it was the same side who beat Spurs on Saturday.  That meant Mathieu Flamini kept his place in midfield, which was no surprise to me – the Frenchman is nigh-undroppable at the moment.   On several occasions he threw himself at the ball and won it in situations where it seemed genuinely impossible.  The spirit of Razor lives on.

After Flamini had come close, it was his midfield partner, Fabregas, who gave us the lead – a deflected drive from range wrong-footing the goalkeeper.  Lucky, but had Cesc not been on such a good run he probably wouldn’t have tried the shot.  Six goals this season – amazing what momentum can do, eh?

Into the second half, and yet another injury to Tomas Rosicky couldn’t knock us off our stride – a Fabregas free-kick was flicked on by the outstanding Sagna for Robin van Persie to prod home a goal that will boost his confidence after a couple of lacklustre displays.

As Sevilla pushed to get back into the game, space opened up on the counter-attack, and the introduction of Eduardo da Silva made a third inevitable.  Indeed it was the new number nine who finished neatly after good work from Hleb and Fabregas, before running to celebrate with fellow Brazilians Denilson and Gilberto.  I think a start beckons for Da Silva in Saturday’s game against Derby County.

It wasn’t a perfect performance.  Philippe Senderos and Manuel Almunia again looked uncomfortable at the back, and the 3-0 scoreline certainly flattered us a little.  But, like Cesc and his goalscoring run, the team now have momentum.  Arsene is right to re-emphasise the need to keep our feet on the ground, primarily because he knows our focus ought to be directed towards our next few games, which are all distinctly winnable.  Take a look at the fixture list, and imagine the kind of roll we could be on when we travel to Anfield on October 28th.

The team spirit in the side is incredible right now, as the picture below demonstrates.  Read these quotes from Cesc, these from Van Persie, these from Flamini, and these from Adebayor.  They’re all loving playing in a side that plays great football and is now, at last, getting results.  We’re doing so well that it barely registered with me that Thierry Henry scored for Barcelona last night.

Finally, I have to touch on the news that Jose Mourinho has left Chelsea.  It’s a massive story – probably the biggest since David Beckham left the Premiership.

Whatever your opinion of the man, it’s undoubtedly bad news for Chelsea.  Mourinho’s skill was in moulding a team from a squad assembled in a short space of time at vast expense.  He was able to form a unity and winning mentality that was second to none in the Premiership.  Arguably it was only a spate of defensive injuries last year that denied him a third consecutive title.

But now he is gone, and it seems that in the short-term at least he’ll be replaced by Avram Grant, who may have to face up to vilification from fans who could blame him for Mourinho’s departure.

The likes of Drogba and Lampard could now see their future’s elsewhere.  What’s certain is that the entire club has been destabilised by Mourinho’s shock exit.  In my opinion, it is going to be incredibly difficult for Chelsea to meet their expectations for this season after losing their manager at such a critical time.

For us, that can only be a good thing.

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