We should’ve won but I’ll settle for a tie and the feeling of “knocking” Chelsea out of the title race. Kalou probably should’ve given Chelsea the lead with minutes to play but Arsenal were the ones that had more real chances to score (they always do). Great first half for the Gunners, we were able to play wide football and pressure Chelsea for long stretches without conceding anything defensively. Baptista would rather have been fouled than shoot and he got his wish when Khalid Bouhlarouz brought him down – penalty decision was easy. The sending off might have been a little too harsh, but whatever – doesn’t matter.
Baptista and Juggernaut: All strength, no skill
Thierry Henry was seen in the stands, he had the “Man, I would’ve scored at least twice if I was in there tonight” look on his face. I think a lot of Arsenal fans are writing of the disappointments of this season to missed chances, and more specifically our primary strikers not being in there to finish them off. I think RVP and Henry not being fit is about 60% of the problem, we still have issues in central defense (Senderos) and we do need a gritty power striker in addition to the ones with finesse. Baptista was a good idea at the time but the guy turned out to be like Juggernaut from X-Men – no skill, all force.
There were too great Arsenal passing sequences today, of course we didn’t’ score but it was nonetheless great to watch. The early passing play which Adebayor drilled straight to Czech and the Fabregas back-heel pass to Adebayor in the second half were both of very high quality. It brings a tear to my eye when I see such chances not being taken. Even struggling Eboue had a chance on the late counter-attack but his rocket shot grazed the bar. Gallas had a chance to give the Gunners a 2-0 lead but he made a mess of the free header.
It was strange to see Arsenal play better when they were even rather than a man up. I think the defense needs to be given a lot of credit for staving of Chelsea in the final 15 minutes. After William Gallas allowed SWP to service a cross which Essien nailed home, he did step up and made sure that that mistake wasn’t repeated. I don’t know what to think of Gallas, in some games he’s brilliant and in others he’s playing with an IQ of 50, you just don’t know which one will show up. One reason I like Gallas is because he goes forward and tries to score, which is something we need more off. Oh crap, I just got reminded of how we still haven’t filled the hole left by Pires. That’s always depressing.
Fabregas was awesome again, he’s got the exact weight to put on the ball down to a science. It’s hard to believe he just turned 20 and he’s not even close to being how good he will eventually be. If there’s one guy on Arsenal that gets me excited about the future, it’s him. Denilson was in great pain after his injury and I’m no doctor but it’s got metatarsal written all over it. Hopefully he’s alright.
I would like to have avenged our Carling Cup defeat with a win, but as I said before, I’ll take this result. Finishing 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the premiership is the exact same thing.
Gilberto Penalty + Julio Baptista Fouled 1-0
Michael Essien 1-1
Final Score on ESPN