Arsenal Vs Chelsea: The Crunch

Now, my very real worry about this blog is that such is the state of my hangover that I might end up simply typing “Oh god, my head, my head” over and over again. It was one of those unexpected nights out last night, always the best kind in my opinion and frankly I was in trouble early on. I’ve never done well with vodka ever since an unfortunate incident around my sixteenth birthday when I was drinking at a friend’s house and was so drunk that I didn’t notice when my mates made me a pot noodle made with vodka rather than water. Not even when I was eating the thing. The joke was on them in the end though as I ended up too drunk to move and vomited all over the guest room. Ah, to be young again.

Anyway, as you might surmise there was some vodka involved last night (one of my friends has a truly genius way of measuring spirits which involves pouring the vodka into a bottlecap over your glass, he gets far more in the glass than the cap but doesn’t stop pouring until the cap is full. Then he pours the cap in. Then he adds a second identical measure). And some beer. And some Jack Daniels, which was of course, delicious. What was not delicious is whatever the hideous takeaway was that I battered on the way home and which is now doing a conga line through my digestive system ensuring some full-service hangover this morning. 

However through this elephant-slaying hangover I can still clearly make out the significance of today’s match with Chelsea which frankly is as big as it gets. Arsenal have worked hard to get to where we are in the league, but this fight for Champions League qualification is one of fine margins and our loss to Wigan (our tenth league defeat of the season, and that you have to say is just not good enough) means that whereas we could have gone into this game knowing victory might have sewn up qualification for us, now we go in knowing that a win is what we really need to keep the wolves from the door.

Defeat today it has to be said, would have serious repercussions for us. Spurs and Newcastle would then have it in their own hands to overtake us. What sort of mood Spurs are going to be in after Chelsea wiped the floor with them at Wembley last weekend, I’m not sure but Newcastle are a team in form and will be facing Stoke at home, notoriously bad travellers this season and if we’ve slipped up then that’s going to be like the golden carrot dangled in front of them.

Victory for us today however, could all but end Chelsea’s chances of qualifying for the Champions League through their league position. They’ve still got that potential trump card of still being in the Champions League (though I still think that they’ll struggle to get through their second leg with Barcelona) which means winning it could get them in at the expense of the team that finishes fourth and that makes retaining third place even more vital. Plus, who wants to play that stupid qualifier in August?

It’s tough to know what to make of Chelsea today, will they be on top form, on a high from beating the nominated best team in the world? Will they be distracted and disrupted by changes to the team ahead of their second leg in the week? One of the biggest questions to me is whether Didier Drogba will play. What was evident watching the Barcelona game is that on his day he is still a top quality centre-forward. Much-maligned as he was for rolling around on the floor at the slightest provocation, Barcelona hated him all night long because he was constantly causing them trouble, not just in terms of his attacking prowess but his physical presence on the defensive as well was a huge bonus for Chelsea. We saw when they played against Spurs last week that he can still be formidable presence, and down the years we’ve struggled to deal with him over and over again.

These days of course, Drogba is getting toward the end of his career, and Chelsea will undoubtedly want him to face Barcelona in the Nou Camp on Tuesday. With that in mind, especially since he played the weekend and midweek this past week, I do wonder if he might not start today. It would be a bonus for us if he were to be benched because, and I realise these may be famous last words, in my opinion Fernando Torres is a much lesser threat. 

Arsene Wenger doesn’t expect Chelsea to repeat the tactics that they used against Barcelona. The manager says,

“They won’t play the same way on Saturday, even for Chelsea that was a one-day solution. Because when you play against Barcelona you know they will have 70 per cent of the ball. Chelsea will not have much choice to play differently [in the second leg] but they have a lot of experience in their side and they know how to be on the pitch.”

Any side that faces Barcelona knows that they have to make the most of the ball when they have it, and that Barcelona are going to be in charge for large periods of the match. I doubt Chelsea would be willing to cede so much possession to us, even with us the home team and considering that we’ve beaten Chelsea well in the last couple of meetings. I think they’ll aim for something much more along the lines of how they played Spurs last weekend, and controversial goal or not they did deserve to win that game. 

This season has seen some pretty memorable encounters with the other top sides in the league. A 5-3 win away at Chelsea, the 5-2 comeback against Spurs, snatching the 1-0 over City and the last-gasp 2-1 win over Newcastle all spring to mind. I’m hoping that come three o’clock or so this afternoon there’ll be another one to add to the list, especially as I do so love beating Chelsea as they are thunderous tossers. 

For now though, the hangover is closing in on me and I fear I’m going to have to leave it there. Sadly, I’ve got work in a bit, rather than sleeping my way up to kick off. I can’t describe my distress at this.

Anyway, come on you Gooners!

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  • jamrockrover  On 21/04/2012 at 10:41 am

    Drogba is definitely out with a knee injury thankfully. I hope your head cures in time to watch the game without too much discomfort.

    • Leper Messiah  On 22/04/2012 at 9:48 am

      I made it through the game, the rest of the day at work was a bit of a nightmare though!

  • new  On 15/05/2014 at 11:02 am

    Thanks for sharing, I love Chelsea.

  • sbo  On 12/06/2014 at 5:19 am

    Thank you very much for sharing.
    I am fan clubs him.
    I want to meet him once.

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