Arsenal dominated possession, the game turned into a phsyical midfield battle and was littered with criminal defensive errors. It was everything that a typical Arsenal/Chelsea clash has been over the years. Except it wasn't. It was the polar opposite. Chelsea's devestating counter-attacks, spear-headed by Drogba failed to materialise. Rather than weave ineffectual patterns in front of the Chelsea backline, Song, Walcott and Fabregas cut through and finished clinically. Chelsea were reduced to lumping the ball forward in search of the big man up top and were totally unable to deal with the energy of the Arsenal midfield.
Rarely does a clash between third and fourth assume as much significance in a title race as yesterday. With each side confronting their own personal demons and United already five points clear of both sides, the stakes were set high. Arsenal had to prove that they could win in the big games after a horrific record against the elite clubs both at home and abroad, while Chelsea merely had to prove that they can beat anyone after their current run of form.
From the Blues point of view what Ancelotti described as a 'difficult moment' is fast becoming a [cliche alert] full blown crisis. Not only because a side that was racking up cricket scores and being hailed as certain champions by third rate hacks back in October are now very much off the pace, but the lack of quality in the squad is also painfully obvious. The core of the squad is mostly the wrong side of thirty and despite the miracles Ancelotti achieved with Milan's aging stars he must be looking enviously at the benches of his rivals. While others have the likes of Berbatov and Balotelli, Carlo must rely on the likes of Bruma and Kakuta to change games. Outside of Alex and possibly Anelkia, this was the first choice XI for Chelsea and they were frighteningly overrun at the Emirates. Others have a wealth of promising youngsters but Stamford Bridge needs an big overhaul, not just a touch-up.
Arsenal however will take huge positives from this game. They beat one of their major rivals, they beat them well and they beat them in a phsyical battle, something they haven't managed in a while. That monkey is very much off their back andd they still have the two Manchester clubs to come to the Emirates. Although the 'crap invincibles' are looking stronger by the week and it may still be beyond this Arsenal side to haul them in, this victory meant a lot more than just three points. United fans watching yesterday should have been praying for a Chelsea victory as this could really spark a charge from Arsenal something Chelsea, even if they won, would have been unlikely to do as they lack the drive, energy and depth of the Gunners. It looks like a case of 'back to the future' as the Ferguson/Wenger rivalry is set to be re-ignited.
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