Arsenal fans have been disappointed far too often recently. Two years ago it looked like the Gunners would surprisingly claim the Premier League title. One gloomy day in Birmingham ended that.
Last season in the Champions League semifinals, any chance against Manchester United evaporated early in the second leg at the Emirates.
There was more disappointment last week, a week that effectively ended Arsenal’s title chances and severely dented the club’s Champions League aspirations. Robin van Persie’s ankle injury is more serious than first thought, and the influential striker is likely gone for the rest of the campaign. His biggest hope now surely must be returning in time for the World Cup, not the tail end of the Premier League.
Arsenal needed a huge performance against Chelsea on Sunday. Even a draw wouldn’t have been that bad. Instead Chelsea crushed Arsenal 3-0 at the Emirates, and it was a case of boys versus men.
Chelsea had quality in every position, as we know, while Arsenal’s Denilson, Theo Walcott, Samir Nasri and striker Eduardo looked especially out of sorts. At this point Walcott’s best quality is acting as a deterrent. How sad is that? Had he started, who knows, maybe Ashley Cole doesn’t get in those two crosses that lead to first-half goals.
Eduardo’s comeback from his horrific leg injury was truly inspiring, but he’s looked poor this season. He had another half chance Sunday, and didn’t even get a shot away. Then again, he’s probably better suited to a team that sends men into the box. He can pick up the scraps at close range, like Ruud van Nistelrooy did so well at United.
Arsene Wenger’s admission after the game that Chelsea wasn’t much better than Arsenal was downright ridiculous. It was also embarrassing when Wenger failed to praise Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, who chipped in two more goals and is perhaps the best in the world at the moment at his position.
The only two Arsenal players who could get into the Chelsea team at the moment, van Persie aside, are majestic Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas and Russian midfield magician Andrey Arshavin. Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen would be a 50-50. The rest aren’t good enough to win anything big.
Arsenal trails Chelsea by 11 points, and the game in hand doesn’t mean that much. If Chelsea drops a few points during the African Cup of Nations, it’s hard to envisage Arsenal gaining much ground without van Persie. Consider, too, that Arsenal will almost surely exit the Carling Cup on Wednesday, its even younger kids traveling to Manchester City.
Landing in the top four, which looked a certainty last week, is now up in the air. That would take the cake in terms of recent disappointments.