The Gunners profited from a David Luiz-type mistake that turned out to be the only goal of the Chelsea v Arsenal game in defence versus attack style contest for the best part of 90 minutes at Stamford Bridge. That might be a bit overly critical because Arsenal have done the double over their free-spending neighbours this campaign, but it was a performance that didn’t have any ‘oooh’ or ‘ahhh’ moments from an Arsenal perspective.
By way of balance, the Gunners did use the odd splash of colour on a predominantly blue canvas. However, there was a lack of threat and penetration that was so glaringly obvious, one expected Chelsea to eventually break down the door after knocking on it so hard and for so long.
The goal was a proper howler that saw Jorginho napping in possession and without looking back to check where his goalkeeper was, he booted the ball back to where he thought Kepa was. The agile shot-stopper did well to scramble back over distance to palm out the ball, but only as far as Aubameyang. The Gabon striker was the epitome of calm as he simply cut it back for Smith Rowe to pop it in the net.
For a brief moment in the Chelsea v Arsenal game, time stood still and the youngster held his breath along with the thousands of armchair fans as the ball bobbled just inside the post. I sat willing the miss-hit ball into the corner of the net because I, like Thomas Tuchel, couldn’t see Arsenal scoring from open play.
Chelsea 0-1 Arsenal HT:
Emile Smith Rowe’s second Premier League goal in as many games gives Arsenal the lead at the break. pic.twitter.com/rMsbbF1Kjw
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) May 12, 2021
I thoroughly disagree with the German manager that the Blues should have gone 3-0 up at halftime because chances don’t equate to goals unless they are converted. What was he watching? Of course, Arsenal fans will enjoy the narrowest of wins, but it wasn’t without nerves nor was it plain sailing, yet three points were the priority and the win took Arsenal into 8th, although Everton have two games in hand.
Let’s not be fooled into thinking this victory makes up for a dreadful season or that the majority of these players will be here next season. Chelsea had 68% of possession and 19 shots on target and it was clear that Arsenal were short in both creativity and brawn after allowing the Blues the complete freedom to attack whenever they wanted.
I wouldn’t say it was enjoyable, it was the type of thing you feel compelled to see out without being absorbed or committed. The Chelsea v Arsenal game lacked the sort of cutting edge and rush of adrenaline that top-flight games give you and if anything, it was Chelsea who looked slicker and quicker until they reached the Arsenal area.
There were some shaky moments with Gabriel, Mari, and Holding looking less than comfortable, sometimes resorting to throwing their bodies at the ball in a haphazard manner just to keep their advantage. On the plus side, it was Smith Rowe’s night, usually, in the shadow of Saka, he stepped out with the perfect all-round performance in attack and defence and looked a genuine threat.
He also did his fair share of defending by putting in a solid foot to help out as the Gunners boat rocked continuously, especially in the 90th minute when the bar was clattered twice by Kurt Zouma and Olivier Giroud. The Frenchman’s nest-like bouffant was unable to steer the ball underneath the bar but that wasn’t the only piece of luck the visitors had over the 90.
With the Arsenal goal charmed at times, Chelsea just could break down a jelly defence, but credit to the Gunners for holding their shape and closing down the opposition. The ball pinged off Holding and Gabriel and in addition, Leno put in a determined and acrobatic shift between the Arsenal sticks even if he is looking for an escape route in the summer.
Ok, so we won, but it was the sort of win I was grateful for but not excited by. I’m still looking forward to the end of this season because I just need a rest from disappointment and gloom and I think I’m no different to any Arsenal supporter on that score.
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