Friday, 1 October 2010

No shame in aiming for a draw, boys

398 words. Estimated reading time: 1 minute 30 seconds.

There is only one Arsenal player who would make it into a combined team with Chelsea (Arsesea? Chelnel?) and the prospect of facing them without him and a host of other first-choice players is not something I am looking forward to.

With Cesc leading the team I would hope we could attempt to give the reigning champions a run for their money and gain some revenge for the drubbings they inflicted on us last season. But with it likely he will sit the match out injured (added to the absences of Van Persie, Walcott, Gibbs and, most significantly, Vermaelen) my gut instinct is we are in for a long afternoon on Sunday.

The concept of Arsesea makes for some pretty depressing comparisons: Cech v Almunia/Fabianski; Terry and Alex v Squallici and Koscielny; Essien v Song or Denilson. Sadly the list goes on and ends with someone being measured against Drogba. The man has admitted he puts in extra effort against us and unfortunately we still have neither the striker or centre back to match him, despite Chamakh’s impressive start.

And that is the yardstick by which we need to measure ourselves. It is no longer acceptable to excuse getting bruised and battered by our supposed rivals through youth or lack of experience when the flaws have been clear for so long. Another repeat of last season's performances will extinguish any pretensions we have of being in the running for the title - we might be second in the league but we have lost a home game to relegation candidates and don’t yet deserve to be seriously considered as in the hunt for silverware.

But claiming a spirited draw in the circumstances would be enough to keep the hope alive. How do we do it? Everyone needs to put in at least an 8/10 performance with one of our 11 delivering a 'game of the season'. I would love to think Arshavin could deliver: we bought him to make the difference in games like this but has never risen to the occasion.

It is the antithesis of Wenger’s beliefs but there is no shame in setting out to take a point at Stamford Bridge, especially with such a depleted team. It would be a point more than we claimed in four games against Chelsea and Man U last year so at least we can claim some evidence of improvement.

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