EPL 2006: Arsenal 0 – Chelsea 2

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Football
December 18th, 2005 • 4:29 pm

I don’t think anyone had any serious hopes about this season for Arsenal, so this defeat doesn’t really come as a surprise. And it wasn’t a hugely embarrassing defeat either. Thierry Henry hit the post and Robin van Persie had a perfectly good goal ruled out for offside. If that goal had stood, the game might have turned out differently. (As far as one can tell, Robben was just as offside as van Persie was on his opening goal for Chelsea.)

But it was a defeat just the same. It was Arsenal’s third defeat in a row in the league. And it didn’t offer any clues about what Wenger might be able to do to fix the problem. The Gunners might not have deserved to lose, but they didn’t really deserve to win either, and the game was far too comfortable for Chelsea in the second half.

Twenty points is a huge gap. Arsenal are still in the Champions’ League and in the League Cup, and they have yet to start their FA Cup campaign—but this season is already a huge disappointment, and it’s getting harder and harder to think that Thierry Henry will not be at least tempted to leave. For the first time in Arsène Wenger’s tenure, the team might finish outside the top two, and might not even qualify for the Champions’ League next season. It’s a scary prospect, and it would represent a big failure in the final season at Highbury, and a rather discouraging situation for the first year in the new stadium.

Will Arsène Wenger make key purchases in the January transfer window? There is little indication that he will. Yet it’s looking more and more like this team needs sweeping changes. Players like Lauren, Ljungberg, Bergkamp, Pirès, and Gilberto are ineffectual this season—when they don’t actually make embarrassing mistakes, like Lauren on the second goal today, and Gilberto against Bolton two weeks ago.

Apart from the Champions’ League tie with Real Madrid, there is very little to look forward to for the rest of this season, and the uncertainty surrounding Thierry Henry will make for many more anxious moments for Arsenal fans between now and the summer transfer window.

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