A few days ago Arsene Wenger made the mistake of billing this a definitive, coming of age moment for the current Arsenal team. Our time had indeed come. For another demoralising spanking from Chelsea, that is.
On a day when we were second best in just about every department, ripped apart yet again by our Nemesis Drogba, toothless in attack, and bullied in midfield, the single most worrying aspect for me was Wenger's sour post-match interview. Ok, grace in defeat has never been the Frenchman's trademark, but if he really believes even half of what he says, our fallow period may be stretching further than we'd like to contemplate.
He refused to concede defeat in the title race. Fair enough, in November there's no need to concede anything, even if he is being a little optimistic. But the way he refused to give Chelsea much credit was embarrassing. Wenger said something along the lines of, not seeing anything in Chelsea today to suggest they wouldn't drop points...??? Ok, they will indeed drop points, but enough to affect such a swing that Arsenal will finish above them? Doubtful. And sometimes you've got to give the opposition some credit. I agree that they weren't THAT good but that's because they didn't have to be. If they can win so comprehensively without ever really getting into top gear, it's a COMPLIMENT to them and a damning INDICTMENT of the team you have built Arsene. Not cause for optimism.
The best that could come out of it is if he admits that, and tries to solve the glaring deficiencies that still exist. He's built a squad made for La Liga that gets bullied in the Premiership. I was very apprehensive about our lack of physical stature in the lead up to this game and my anxiety proved justified. True, we were unlucky to be without Bendtner, Van Persie and even Diaby for the visit of the league's most powerful side, but you'd wonder what difference it would have made. It' sad in itself that I'm pining for the presence of Diaby, a man I've constantly pilloried for months.
I've nothing much to say about the match itself. It was genuinely depressing to watch, as was Wenger's groping for excuses afterwards- the disallowed goal was disappointing but understandable; Vela's dive was reprehensible, never a penalty; and what of the foul commited by Sagna on Anelka in the first half? No mention of that from our myopic leader. We must have had about five efforts on goal all game. Our possession football was largely ineffective, rare were the occasions that the visitors looked stretched. And defensively, we gave up the chances that Chelsea knew were coming, and they were ruthless, efficient, all the things you expect from winners.
You can talk all you want about the good that can come from a chastening defeat against hated rivals. But last season we suffered the same at home to both United and Chelsea. Where is the progress? Is our manager too blinkered, too blindly idealistic to react in the necessary way? After the news on Van Persie- four to five months out- today's match added cutting insult to devastating injury.