ArsenalfanTV interviews in the aftermath of the Chelsea battering made ominous viewing for Arsenal fans as their pain was clear for all to see.
This was the third of three possible away counters against known quantities, i.e. teams genuinely going for the Premiership and this was the third absolute mauling the Gunners suffered on the road. It wasn’t just a mauling it was a capitulation that was embarrassing to see from a so-called team vying for the Premiership crown. The omens were not good as Arsene came to the Bridge on his 500th game and left empty handed. Many people thought the Gunners would make a better fist of it this time around and Giroud nearly got them off to a dream start but scuffed a shot giving Petr Čech the chance to save a one-on-one. After that it was all downhill for the Gunners as rampant Chelsea took advantage of appalling slackness, punishing the Gunners almost every time they easily lost possession.
The fact that the players could not raise their game for Arsene’s 1000th game begs serious questions of their character. I have said for a long time that football fans are no mugs and the players have to deliver against the insane wages many of them receive in the Premiership. Arsenal’s lowest paid players are on £50,000 per week with the highest on £150,000 and their fans pay for the privilege of being charged the most expensive season tickets/seats in the Premiership. Many local football fans in the Islington area can only dream about going to watch their heroes as the working class have been squeezed out of the game to be replaced by the more well-heeled in society. Football is out of touch with reality and it is not going to get any better.
Despite the impressive form of the Ox in recent games, you really wonder what planet a professional footballer is on when they perform a blatant handball to try and stop a goal. So, not only does a team face a penalty, they face the loss of the player in question and for Arsenal, who were already two down, the writing was well and clearly on the wall. What made the dumb even dumber was that the ball was not even going in.
Arsene looked shell-shocked in the post-match interview and he will be hoping that his team will respond robustly in their next game against Swansea. Everyone has written off Arsenal and it is not surprising to see why. But, incredibly they are only 7 points behind Chelsea with a game in hand. They have 24 points to play for, which in theory could take them to 86 points come the end of the season. In all seriousness, even 86 points will probably not be enough to win the league this year and Arsenal are looking like they will finish the season in their customary fourth position. They have a real chance of winning the FA Cup but I have more than a sneaking feeling for Wigan being a major party pooper. The fact that the Latics went to the Etihad and turned over the mighty Man City on their own turf means they will relish coming to Wembley and adding the scalp of Arsenal to the growing list of victims consumed by Uwe Rosler’s Wigan. If my prediction comes true and Wigan go on to play either Hull or Sheffield Utd in the Cup final do not expect Arsene to sign a new contract. In fact, I would say, if I was Gazidis I would tell Arsene his new contract depended on an FA Cup success – but sadly Arsenal don’t work like that do they?