London Calling, Entertainment Answers.

After last weekend’s Manchester Derby served up a shock and a glut of goals the eyes of the football world turned to Stamford Bridge, for the London Derby between Chelsea and Arsenal. A game that is traditionally a cagey and tight affair was anything but. Instead, the two sides shared eight goals. Here are some musings from Boner’s Brain on another entertaining game in The English Premier League:

Watching the game back, it is remarkable it was only 5-3. Before the first goal, which took just 14 minutes to arrive, both sides could easily have scored a couple each. As I’ve alluded to in the introduction, games between big sides are usually tight, cagey contests, the fact that this one was so open was a huge surprise. Is this owing to poor defending, good attacking, or the teams setting up in a more open fashion? It’s probably a combination of all of those.

On that note, both sides look like they have some problems defensively. Bosingwa seems to be Andre Villas-Boas’ favoured choice at right back, yet he was AWOL on André Santos’ goal. His wandering left the defensive duties to Daniel Sturridge, which was only ever going to have one outcome. I remain to be convinced about him as a defender. On the other side of that particular coin, Santos himself looks dubious. It would be harsh to judge the Brazilian after only a handful of games in the English League, but he looks to be typical of the “modern” defender: Good going forward, not too clever defensively. He tried to tackle with the wrong foot on Chelsea’s first goal and was beaten easily by Juan Mata to allow a cross to come in, one of a number of errors on his part.

Arsenal’s Per Mertesacker looks like he is struggling to adjust to the pace and power of the Premier League. An experienced and well respected defender, with a number of caps for his country, I thought he would be just what the doctor ordered for Arsenal. So far, he has looked a little slow and has been caught out of position a number of times; most glaringly in this game, to allow John Terry to score for Chelsea. I understand it can take time for new players to adapt, but you wonder how long Mertesacker will need, or how much longer he will be given.

John Terry. Well, where to start? In a week where his long time England partner, Rio Ferdinand has had questions raised about his lack of form, Terry too looked woefully out of sorts. Perhaps the off-field problems he has were weighing on his mind, perhaps he too is on the wane or perhaps he was never that good. One thing’s for sure, both he and Ferdinand will no longer be automatic choices for their clubs, let alone their country if they don’t pick up soon.

Whilst not Terry’s fault, (Florent Malouda’s, for that awful pass, since you ask,) I can’t be the only one who finds the image of Terry slipping over as Robin van Persie races through to score, utterly hilarious. Can I?

Theo Walcott’s goal was a pretty neat summary of why he is one of the most frustrating players there is. He is,

at times clumsy and superb in equal measure. On this occasion, the clumsiness was falling to the ground under no contact. This was followed by speed of thought, wonderful quick feet, blistering pace and a good finish. It is easy to forget he is still young and has time to improve, however you can’t help but feel it is a shame we seemingly can’t experience one side of Walcott without the other.

Robin van Persie seems to have flourished since Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri departed for pastures anew. Whether we notice him more because Arsenal are shorn of their other big stars or whether it’s him stepping his game up because of his new responsibility is anyone’s guess. You can be certain of this though, 28 goals in 27 games is a phenomenal haul, whatever the reason.

Petr Cech, whilst still undoubtedly a very good goalkeeper will be very disappointed to have been beaten twice on his near post. The Van Persie goal swerved away from the Czech a lot but he will still feel he could have done better. The Walcott goal was an example of a goalkeeper trying to guess what the forward was going to do; Cech seemed to be looking to cover the shot across goal, giving Walcott the chance to shoot inside the near post. Obviously it is harsh laying blame squarely at the goalkeeper’s door however the Cech of a couple of years ago didn’t get beaten this way. Should the lack of real competition for the Number 1 Shirt be a concern for Chelsea?

Reports of Arsenal’s demise are greatly exaggerated. Since the shellacking by Manchester United, they have won 9, drawn 1 and lost only 1 in all competitions. Hardly a club in disarray as some would have you believe. Whilst brittle defensively, some of their counter attacking play was like the Arsenal of old. Title challengers they are not, Champions League place contenders they still are. By the same token, Chelsea’s set back here does not mean they are out of the running or in crisis either. These things can happen in sport, that’s why we love it.

I’m not one of those who buy into the Sky hype of the Premier League being THE BEST LEAGUE IN THE WORLD EVER but if games like these keep coming along you can see why people would make such claims. I might start to get just a little excited myself if we keep seeing such open attacking football each week. Alan Hansen was right to lament the standard of defending when speaking on Match of the Day, personally, I rather like it.

 

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