If ever there was proof that Chelsea needed more players, it came with the picture of the respective squads. Chelsea showed a clear deficiency in terms of numbers, if not quality.
Arsenal started well, taking advantage of the obvious weariness in the Chelsea camp, they dominated possession and managed to create a couple of decent half chances, with Lacazette being dangerous and hitting the post. It looked very much like the cup final in May. Chelsea seemed oblivious to what was going on, Kante was left on his own to chase and press. Fabregas did his best but he isn’t a chaser, nor a presser. He’s a creative force. We were bypassed far too easily and were lucky to get to half an hour still intact.
The Fight Back
I watched the game on an American stream and there was Martin Tyler and some other dude doing the commentary. There was a very astute observation from Tyler as Chelsea started to come into the game more. It all started when Arsenal were down to ten with Mertesacker going off injured. Chelsea gained confidence from having an extra man and started to use the ball better. Willian had more of the ball, Pedro looked extremely dangerous and Batman was causing issues. Kante was breaking up play as he does better than anyone and this enabled Fabregas to come into the game more. We had a couple of half chances before the break and went into half time looking the better team.
Out we came for the second half and within a minute we were ahead. Shoddy defending from Arsenal led to Cahill heading the hall back into a dangerous position, Moses showed some football brain which he normally lacks and gambled, controlled the ball and smashed it into the net from 6 yards out. Chelsea had managed to get the game under control and take a lead with it. If we had learned anything from last season it was that when Chelsea take a lead, they generally hold onto it.
We were comfortable. Yes, Arsenal had more attacking players on the pitch with the introduction of Giroud and Walcott but they weren’t threatening. Our subs were working well with Rudiger especially looking good in pressing Azpi forward to stifle Welbeck and Iwobi. Then for some reason, Pedro makes a daft challenge and gets himself sent off. Now Bobby Madeley has made a bit of a rod here. Surely every time someone makes that sort of silly challenge in any game, they’re going to get a red, but will they? Nah, It was never a red and it changed the game.
From the sending off Chelsea were visibly uncomfortable. A simple cross into the box, slack marking and Arsenal were level. Stupid. And Conte was not happy. Arsenal half pressed for a winner but both teams looked tired, which isn’t a great sign. And off the penalties we go.
Now, Chelsea fans will know that we are flaming (ugh) terrible at penalties, Munich aside, so it was no surprise when Conte decided to try something different and put massive pressure on our new signing and give our keeper, who has never shown any technical ability, to win us a trophy. Needless to say, it didn’t go well and Chelsea had lost to Arsenal again. At Wembley.