We dominated possession early on, with nearly 70% of it in the first ten/twenty minutes or so. But possession means absolutely nothing if you can’t use it, and we didn’t. All our possession was was passing it between player A and player B and then down the line to player C on the wing to cross for the goalkeeper to catch it. This happened over and over, but still we didn’t realise our impotence from aerial balls, especially with the likes of Eduardo in the box.
Nicolas Anelka nearly opened the scoring against the run of play around the 20 minute mark, racing into the eighteen yard box, only to be seemingly hauled down by Bacary Sagna; indeed the replays showed the French full back had his arms around his countryman, but there was no real appeal from Anelka after he sliced his shot at Manuel Almunia.
Didier Drogba then spurned a good chance, heading unmarked straight at Almunia after a lofted ball into the box from John Obi Mikel. For all of our possession, Chelsea looked more likely to score. And they did so on 41 minutes, when hate figure of most people who don’t support Chelsea, especially us, Cashley Cole drilled the ball into the box (pretty perfectly I’m forced to concede, as we were about to do so) and as the ball zipped past the stationary Gallas, who seemed to be able to do a lot more than he did, Didier Drogba simply stuck his leg out and diverted the ball into the top right corner, via the bar and then the post.
Chelsea struck again, getting joy from the same left side they worked the first goal from, when Cole crossed first time for Thomas Vermaelen to slice the ball into his own net, with Manuel Almunia having come out of his goal behind Vermaelen, only for a lack of communication between the two to contribute to the goal.
Theo Walcott came on for Alex Song – I thought he’d taken Arshavin off when I saw Eduardo and Nasri, the other two frontmen, come out of the tunnel, but when I saw Arshavin emerge too, I was puzzled; in the end it was Song who made way. After a couple of lazy efforts on goal in a scrambled opportunity in Chelsea’s box, when I was absolutely screaming for someone to “FINISH IT!!!!!!!!”, Arshavin did, after the ball dropped to him and he smashed it into the top corner, but his name sake Marriner, the referee, disallowed it, and I was left distraught at his decision. Replays showed that in an effort to acrobatically divert the ball into the net, Eduardo had toed the ball away from Petr Cech’s grasp, finding Arshavin. It was a hugely debatable incident, but it went Chelsea’s way.
Almunia then did something good at last, tipping a doubly deflected effort wide of the post spectacularly, but it was about the only good thing he did all game, again resurfacing claims that he is not good enough to keep goal for a team like Arsenal.
After about half an hour of screaming at the television hoping the referee would hear me and “GET SOME GLASSES”, he decided to ignore me and give Chelsea a free kick when I was 100% sure Fabregas got the ball – I still haven’t seen it again. I knew Drogba was going to score, and he did, but that didn’t stop the tears from flowing more than they already were I must admit. The final whistle blew five minutes later, and it was a devastating blow to our title hopes. The rest of the season seems bleak unless someone steps up to fill Van Persie’s boots, and from what I saw on Sunday evening, it won’t be Eduardo or Carlos Vela who do so.