I've Got Those Chelsea Blues...

Afternoon all, from a grey, dreary, rain-soaked, commute-destroying "day" in New York City. Much to cover of course, so let's not get too involved in pleasantries, eh?

West Brom. What can you say? What's done is done, and I feel as though Sean well and truly covered the match earlier this week. I do feel the need (read: bile) in me to discuss a few points from the loss, so please bear with me.

For one thing, as Arseblog pointed out several times since Saturday, we witnessed several players putting in the same types of lazy, strolling, infuriatingly effortless shifts that saw us drop easily winnable games and points toward the end of last season against the likes of Blackburn, Wigan and of course, the tiny totts. I'm referring largely to the enigma (read: asshole) that is Abou Diaby. He has a few positive qualities as a footballer: he's big, has a bit of pace, can control the ball well, has the ability to surge forward at times when the mood is on him and pops up with the occasional goal. However, all of these traits seem inextricably linked with his desire at the time, which seems to come and go with the wind. He's completely unreliable, and taken as a whole, it would be wrong to say he's the type of player we need. It's long been said that we can't judge him yet, that he's too young. He's 24. When's he going to grow up?

Dishonorable mention: Emmanuel Eboue. We unfortunately saw the Ebooable Eboue on Saturday. Listless, lethargic, without his normal energy and enthusiasm, which usually cover what he lacks in skill. Eboue no like.

For another, I think in light of Manuel Almunia's injury status, I judged him a bit too harshly for his second half implosion. He did seem to be favoring his shoulder a bit after the knock first occurred, and I think that very much affected him throughout the second half, particularly the goal scored near-post on him. Perhaps I'm being myopic, perhaps I just feel bad for the man. But I do doubt that Arsene would drop him from the squad at this point in the season if he weren't well and truly hurt. Although Arsene does still have all the faith in the world in Fabianski, so who knows what's going on in that head of his.

In the end, we can moan about it all we like, but we were just flat outplayed on our home ground by a newly promoted side. And every time we have one of these uninspired losses against (all apologies to Baggies fans) clearly inferior opposition, we hear and say the same things: Well, hopefully we'll learn from this and not repeat the same mistakes. Clearly, we haven't learned, and signs point to that day never actually coming. It falls on the shoulders of the players at the end of the day, and some of them just don't have the stomach, the application or the desire to be an Arsenal Football Club. We can do without them.

Off the back of this dispiriting defeat (and the best thing that can be said is at least Chelsea also lost and United drew), we faced a stiff test in an away match in Serbia against Partizan Belgrade. It was a chance to rebound from the negatives of the weekend and to show that we would be ready to face Chelski this coming Sunday. What we got was a bit of a mixed bag, really. We didn't learn anything new about our players: we still can play amazing football if we have the space, and can score some dazzling goals (the first was a delightful bit of skill and finishing from Wilshere and Arshavin), yet our defenders consistently get themselves caught out of position and end up being quite vulnerable to counterattacks, especially as "defensive" midfield players like Song and Denilson bomb forward leaving our centrebacks hopelessly exposed. This is a tactical issue that can and must be corrected on the training ground. If I can see it, I'm sure others can as well.

Once again, we took an early lead, capitulated, and had to scratch and claw our way back into the match. The turning point for me was the sending off of Jovanovic for taking down Chamakh in the box. I must say, the replays of the incident looked to me as though Marouane took a dive, but others have argued against that view, so I'll suspend judgment. Not that it initially mattered anyway, as Arshavin's penalty was worse than Rosicky's miss against Sunderland, for what it's worth. In the end though it was the Moroccan master who knocked a header in to give us back a deserved lead. The scoreline was further inflated for us when Squillaci headed home his first Arsenal goal to make it 3-1. Wilshere, Arshavin and Chamakh were all subbed off after we'd regained the lead, presumably to be fresh for this weekend's clash at Stamford Bridge.

Ah yes, Chelsea, the elephant in the room, the turd in the punch-bowl. They are the defending champions and have started off playing as such, their first result that wasn't a win being the loss on the weekend to a depleted Manchester City. I'm of the opinion that, while they're certainly not the greatest premier league team I've ever seen *COUGHINVINCIBLESCOUGHCOUGH*, we would still need a lot of things going our way to win against them. Clearly, Fortune isn't so much smiling at us as she is pissing on us, keeping such players as van Persie, Vermaelen, and it would appear, Fabregas, ruled out due to injury. That's not even to mention the other players who are getting used to the confines of the treatment room: Bendtner, Walcott, Ramsey (obviously), Almunia and now Kieran Gibbs! And we thought last season was bad. I shudder to think where we'd be right now if not for Chamakh. Using our talented Russian midget as a central striker again, I imagine.

If I'm honest, I just don't like our chances this weekend. We will almost surely play Eboue on the righthand side along with Sagna to deal with the double threat of Malouda and Cuntley, which removes some of our ability to really play football. Additionally, our midfield will likely consist of Wilshere, Song and... who? Rosicky? Diaby (pleasedon'tbeDiabypleasedon'tbeDiaby)? Denilson? Not one of them is going to strike fear into the hearts of Drogba. Then there's Drogba. He has been scoring for fun against us for so long now I can't remember the last time we held him without a goal. I believe it was this fixture in 2008-2009 since the only goal they scored as a Djourou OG, but I digress. My point is, the man has made scoring against Arsenal seem routine. Granted, in recent seasons we've seen him do that against Gallas and Toure later Gallas and Vermaelen... Maybe it was Gallas? Okay, don't shit on my dreams, I can hope.

My final point today is in regard to Lukasz Fabianski. He has long been the bane of Arsenal supporters' existence, typically turning easy saves and clearances into simply diabolical examples of How Not To Be a Goalkeeper (copyright 2009, Pendant Publishing). From Chelsea in the FA Cup semifinals 2 seasons ago, to the Porto away match last season to every match down the stretch, he has been hopeless, hapless and dangerous to be around. Yet somehow he managed to have a very solid match at Partizan. Now, I don't know if it was down to playing in front of a smaller crowd, being in Eastern Europe, the steroids he took that morning or whether it was some long-con in which he pretended to be a shit goalkeeper for years in order to lower the bar and make us all nauseous at the sight of him, only to reveal his true talent and ability in a blinding flash, like when Gandalf came back to life in The Two Towers. But he did have a solid game, including a penalty save and a brilliant diving stop late on, so fair play to him.

That does NOT mean that I have any confidence in him whatsoever this weekend. Playing Partizan Belgrade in front of their (actually rather impressive) supporters is one thing; playing Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in front of their (typically lackluster) supporters is another animal entirely. One match does not erase all the mistakes, costly errors and Keystone-kop-ish blunders of monumental proportion that he has so far shown himself capable of in his time at Arsenal. Wenger always says he's brilliant in training: I've never seen that from him. Perhaps he's severely overdue for a long stretch of good games, I'm not the football gods, I don't know. We've seen as much evidence for alien abduction as we have for Fabianski being a quality 'keeper. All I'm saying is, he could go a long way to repaying some of the manager's faith in him by having a good day against Chelsea on Sunday. If not... I don't know. My last straw for him came at Porto last season. I have no more straws. I am strawless.

Roll on Sunday. Will this decimated but hopefully spirited Arsenal side get a result against the rent boys at the Bridge? Is Stamford Bridge related to Wayne Bridge, and if so, has John Terry cuckolded him as well? When will Ashley Cole and Jermaine Jenas just admit their love for one another and try to adopt a baby from China? Some of these questions, or only one, will be answered this weekend.

I'll leave you with two jokes: Luca Modric feels that other teams in the Champions League will "fear" Tottenham after they beat FC fucking Twente. Also, Rafael van der Faart believes that the spuds will beat Inter without him.

Whatever happens this weekend, we'll never be as sad and deluded as that lot. COME ON YOU GUNNERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!