Chelsea 1-1 Arsenal – 10/12/06 – (Barclays Premiership) 11 December, 2006Posted by lasagnechef in Premiership.
A couple of weeks ago Arsenal had three very important games coming up that would shape our season. Tottenham at home: The first North London Derby at the Grove. Porto away: A result was vital to secure progression in the Champions League. Chelsea Away: A tough match against the Champions to show our ambitions this campaign. Spurs were a walkover but the two draws couldn’t have been more different, at Porto the ball was just passed around and nobody wanted to attack, as a draw was enough for both sides. However the draw at Stamford Bridge could not have been more different; It was a feisty game with passion and non-stop attacking. We played Chelsea at their strongest, apparently the best team in the world, desperate to get points to catch up with Man Utd and we held them to a draw. For a side sitting in 7th before the game that’s not bad.
We started with a 4-5-1 with Hleb, Gilberto, Fabregas, Flamini and Van Persie in midfield; a team that we expected really although Baptista could’ve been playing ahead of Flamini but the Frenchman turned out to have a great game. I think The Beast will be heading back to Spain after this season; it’s a shame because he’s a really talented player and if only Arsene Wenger would give him a chance. He played against Newcastle I think and had a shocking performance but I think he is past that now and he’s scored his first goal against Hamburg. I reckon he’ll start against Wigan on Wednesday, the tickets are on general sale by the way so if you can make it I’d recommend you go. I’d be there myself if it weren’t a mate’s birthday.
Anyway, the game had a slow but promising start and both teams had spells of possession equally but you could tell it was going to be a cracking game. No real chances were created in the first 15 minutes, there were a few attacks that could’ve developed but nothing came of them. In the 17th minute Ballack struck a long-range shot that just went wide and soon after that Lampard hit the post leaving Lehmann stranded but eventually we got it clear.
Before the half hour mark Van Persie hit a shot just wide, it was heading quite slowly to the corner of the goal but Hilario had it covered anyway. Then a few minutes later there was another nervy Chelsea attack, the ball got cross in which Senderos cleared straight to Essien but Gilberto flew in to block the shot. We had a few other chances before half time but nothing really decisive. Just before the break Chelsea nearly took the lead; A cross came in which Lehmann tried to catch and missed, the ball ended up at the feet of Essien and his shot was only stopped from hitting the back of the net by Cesc Fabregas who was standing on the post. The teams went in at half time 0-0 and you could say we were lucky not to be behind but thanks to some strong defending it was still goalless.
Both teams went close early in the second half, Van Persie headed over the bar and from Lampard’s free-kick Drogba headed just wide. The game was quite open, as it was in the first half and it was edge of your seat stuff as either side looked like they could get a goal. Fabregas hit a long range shot but it went straight at Hilario, it looked promising when Adebayor played the ball across to him but there wasn’t enough pace behind it and in the end was a comfortable save for the Chelsea 3rd choice ‘keeper.
An Arsenal vs. Chelsea match would be complete without the handbags between Lehmann and Drogba and halfway through the second half they were at it again. Drogba went down in the box appealing for a penalty, which Allan Wiley dismissed. Lehmann for some reason decided to push him on the back as he was leaving the box in a sort of fuck off/hurry up kind of way from which Drogba toppled to the ground like a tree. I really don’t know why Jens does all this because one day he’ll give away a penalty for doing something stupid and we will not be happy. Anyway, in return Drogba squared up to Jens and barged him over and then it was Lehmann’s turn for some theatrics. Both of them got yellow carded for it but really Jens shouldn’t have started it in the first place.
It looked like it was going to be a thrilling 0-0 draw but Mourinho wasn’t happy with that and threw on SWP and Robben to try and get a goal. They did cause Arsenal some problems: In the 70th minute the ball was stupidly given away to Robben who sprinted down towards the goal and fired in a shot which Lehmann managed to block but it was still in he six yard box and Gilberto managed to save the day again by knocking the ball away from Drogba just before the Ivory Coast striker was about to shoot. Another nerve-wracking moment, there were less than 20 minutes on the clock now but in the back of your mind you could tell there were still goals to be had.
It looked like it was going to be Chelsea who’d score and really, our tiring defence looked like they were hanging on for dear life. And then, we scored! Flamini picked up the ball just outside the area and played it out wide to Hleb in a crossing position, all the Chelsea defenders went back into the box expecting a ball to be played in leaving Flamini still on the edge of the box now unmarked. Hleb played the ball back to him and Flamini fired into the corner of the goal. Hilario got his fingertips to it but it wasn’t enough and we were leading with 10 minutes to go. If Cech or even Cudicini was between those posts it might’ve been a different story, Hilario has been okay for Chelsea in recent games including getting a clean sheet against Barcelona however today he just wasn’t good enough.
Every Gooner around the country went insane and I was jumping around my living room shouting at the TV. I could see the move happening and when the Flamster stuck the ball in the back of the net I exploded, the 3,000 odd Gooners at the Bridge went mad too as Flamini ran over to celebrate the goal. Then Ashley Cole came on the TV screen and that just made the goal even better. 1-0 to the Arsenal at Stamford Bridge and we were fucking loving it.
It was by no means over though, we had to keep it tight and defend well because Chelsea can score out of nothing. After our goal it was pretty much non-stop attack for Chelsea, they went close a few times but we hung on and were still leading. Then for some reason Wenger stuck on Ljungberg for Van Persie, it was one of those games where the team was performing well and there was no substitution that would help us. Then one minute later Essien equalized with a wonder goal, the ball was played back to him by Lampard and he struck a bullet from about 30 yards that swerved past Lehmann. No goalie in the world could’ve stopped that and all I could do was applaud such an amazing goal.
Chelsea weren’t done though and were desperate for the winning goal Essien hit the bar from practically underneath it, on the replay you can’t believe how he’s missed it and we were very very lucky still to be level. Also in the very last seconds Lampard squeezed a shot towards the near post and Flamini just got enough on it to deflect it onto the post. We had our own chance to win the game though in the final few minutes, Hleb found himself with the ball unmarked in the box but he just smacked the ball and it went miles over. I nice placed shot and maybe it could’ve been 2-1 but in the end I don’t think us winning would’ve been a fair result. So it finished 1-1, a fantastic game we might have complaints about there was a foul by Cole in the build up to Chelsea’s goal but it’s over now, that’s football for you. Luck evened itself out when Essien hit the bar.
The captain Gilberto Silva was incredible and put in an inspiring performance giving all he had. If only our main captain could have games like this week-in week-out we would be laughing. Adebayor is growing from strength to strength and looks a much better player now than he was last year. I was never his biggest fan but I really do like the lad now and I hope he can net a few more goals this season. Senderos looked quite shaky and Drogba got the best of him a few times, he made a few good interceptions but overall he didn’t have his best game in an Arsenal shirt. Clichy was good but over on the right Eboue was sloppy once again, gave the ball away too much and missed quite a few tackles, he’s only young and he will get better but he really does need to improve to play at this level. Fabregas had a quiet second half but overall he was very good in my opinion, some clever little passes and generally conducting Arsenal’s play from the centre was his game. He’s been desperate for a rest recently and I think on Wednesday Baptista should come in for the Spaniard.
Once again our away support was amazing, you could hear us in full voice throughout the game and well done to the few who smuggled in the phones and notes. We could hear you singing about Ashley Cole load and clear and it was wonderful.
The game was meant to be all about Ashley Cole but to be fair it died down once the game got going. He played alright and I’m sure he’s delighted with his foul that lead to the Chelsea goal. Can’t wait to give him my fair share of abuse when he comes to the Grove.
Arsene recokons that draw means we are still in the title race. Not so sure myself but you never know. That’s enough for today; build up to the Wigan game to come, until then.