THREE THINGS WE LEARNED FROM CHELSEA 2 – 4 ARSENAL
Arsenal won last night away at Stamford Bridge to the current Champions league title holders. The 4-2 win, saw the Gunners get right back into the race for top 4, with themselves firmly in control of the European destiny.
The win was as impressive as it was nail biting with the first half a see-saw affair that saw each side trade goals. Arsenal without a lot of the ball, made use of their time they did have with a consistent counter-attack that threatened Chelsea each time they got into the home side’s defensive third.
It wound up being an enjoyable night for all and was consistent with the up and down nature of this very young side.
So, let’s take a look at three key takeaways from this match.
The Hale End Kids Are Alright
There has been a lot of text written this season about the collective age of this Arsenal squad. At just over 24 years of age, they are the youngest squad in the Premier League.
It was however a brace by Eddie Nketiah, and goals by Emile Smith-Rowe and Bukayo Saka last night, that saw Arsenal leave with all three points. What makes this special is that all three are as we know products of the Hale End Academy.
The last real significant player to come out and have an influence on the Arsenal starting XI was Jack Wilshire. Yes, there have been others to get to the first XI but none with the impact of Emile Smith Rowe or Bukayo Saka both of whom moved into double digits for goals in a season.
This is the first time Arsenal have had two players aged 21 or under score 10 league goals in a season for the since 1933-34. That season it Cliff Bastin and Pat Beasley.
Smith-Rowe had the opportunity to net himself a brace with a finally worked chance in the first half, as he slalomed through three players and just missed the goal by mere inches with a shot just on the 18 yard line.
Both Saka and Smith Rowe, are testaments to the bright future Arsenal have with such players.
But it was Eddie Nketiah who stole the show, netting a brace with the first one highlighting the incredible work rate he has.
In the aftermath of the win, Mikel Arteta said he told Nketiah:
“If there was any player I’ve been unfair with, its Nketiah.”
He implied he should be playing him more. In the run up to the match, all the news was about an interview Eddie gave talking about his desire to play regular football. In response to questions about that interview, Arteta, said he and the club have been clear with Eddie – they want him here and think he can have a big role to play in the future at Arsenal
It remains unclear what the future holds for Eddie and Arsenal. But last night gave us a glimpse of a player who possibly with more time leading the line, can be an influential member of the attack.
And with more gems in Per Mertesacker’s treasure trove, the Hale End supply line to Arsenal’s first team could once again bare fruit on a regular basis.
European Destiny Back in Arsenal’s Hand
Arsenal now sit in fifth place purely on goal differential with the noisy neighbors just above us. We’ve now played 32 games which is in line now with the bulk of the league. Arsenal and Tottenham also have the same record 18W 3D 11L.
Its all to play for and Arsenal have it all to themselves to handle. Win out and top 4 should be theirs. The eyes turn firmly to Saturday’s early morning tie against United, who look in disarray but always seem to find their heritage and form when they play Arsenal.
As we wrote on Tuesday, this is a young Arsenal side. They are going to have to draw on experiences from this season to see them through the challenge. They’ve played well at times and on others, not so much. But they know they can play well, especially against the big sides. They also know they can put on runs to get them in a good place.
All of that and more they will need if they are going to get Arsenal back into the Champions League for the first time in five years.
However, if you look back after the first three matches of the season and we told you Arsenal were going to be in this position, you would’ve bitten your hand off for it. And this run to the end of the season is why love sport and more importantly why we love Arsenal
Thomas Tuchel is the most bitter man in England
Thomas Tuchel is a talented coach. Not on the level of Pep or Klopp, he resides in that next tier managers who can coach a side to take advantage of when the big sides go wrong. Like he did in Europe last season.
Where he resides in a tier on his own the level of bitterness he displays when things don’t workout for him. Rather than accept losses or the fact his team played poorly he lays a litany of excuses down for his team’s foibles.
Last night that litany of excuses not only the fact he though three of Arsenal’s goals were own goals and that his own pitch, yes, the home pitch didn’t favor his squad.
They are equal parts ridiculous claims and just shows how poor a loser he is. Own goals? How about the fact that the Arsenal players wanted the ball more in situations and fought for it, and outhustled your team?
As for the pitch, we dealt with it too and for us, a team who likes the ball at their feet, a bad pitch would affect us too. Yeah, it was poor, how many times did our players slip, but Herr goo, that’s your pitch, if its poor there is only one team to blame, yours.
Dear Thomas on behalf of well, everyone, just take the L. You got, weighed, measured, and found wanting in this match. The fault purely lies with you and your team in that match.
Just a few words of admiration for Granit Xhaka who started the play that resulted in Emile Smith-Rowe’s goal. Receiving the ball in our defensive third, he dribbles towards Romelu Lukakau (you’d be forgiven if you screamed ‘what are you doing’) , managed to beat him – then managed to dribble towards Marcos Alonso just on the line of the 18 and MEGGED him.
It was Xhaka channeling his inner Santi Cazorla but it was also a sign of a player who was working hard to help create something for his team and while we can joke about it, it was an effective move wonderfully pulled off by a player who deserves more appreciation than he gets.