Sunday, December 26, 2010

Arsenal v Chelsea - Wenger's title hopes come down to this derby match

I realize the season is not even half way done and Arsenal remain within striking distance of leaders Manchester United - 5 points back - however the season rides on the London derby this Monday between the Gunners and Chelsea. This is by no means an exaggeration, if Arsenal do not win this match their title hopes are finished. Why? Arsenal are 0-2 against their main competitors for the title - Manchester United and Chelsea (they did defeat Manchester City, but I am no ready to pronounce them a true competitor for the league title). More shocking is the fact Arsenal, since the 2003 Champions League 1/4 finals have fallen victim to their London neighbor more often than not. Prior to that season, it was the Gunners that usually had the upper hand on the Blues (Chelsea have only dropped 2 of the last 18 matches to the Gunners in all competitions). This continued this season when Chelsea handled Arsenal in an early season fixture.

More of this attitude please...
If Wenger and the Gunners are serious about contending this season they must take the full 3 points from the Blues.  The Gunners are currently sitting one point ahead of Chelsea, so losing or even drawing this match will not mathematically eliminate the Gunners, but it is the mental aspect that will take a hit.

Recently, Wenger and Arsenal have not been able to hold their own versus the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United. What is telling is the comment from team captain Cesc who admitted that he and  his clubmates were "too scared:"

"Sometimes we seem scared of losing these big games. We don't really go for it and we're tempted to drop back and see what the opposition will do" Cesc

Not words of confidence,not words you want to hear from your captain, not words that you would have heard from an Arsenal team led by Bergkamp, Vieira, Keown, Parlour, Henry, Pires, Wiltord, Seaman or the likes. Arsenal have constantly been chasing some of that snarl and attitude of former teams. It is in games such as the one coming up Monday where championship aspiring sides need to find some of this fight. No one would question the talent playing for Wenger, but I would still question whether or not the heart and attitude is there to match. The only way Arsenal can truly contend for the EPL title is to show the metal to go with the talent they unquestionably possess. This has to start from the top and the captain. We will see if the Gunners can dig up some of this attitude and desire, otherwise I fear that Drobga and his mates will once again emerge victorious from their London derby.

Come on you Gunners!

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