Looking forward to Saturday's early kick-off between Arsenal and Chelsea with the enthusiasm of a child on Christmas morning - coupled with it being a special occasion for Arsene Wenger, his milestone 1000th game in charge for Arsenal - I had a good feeling about this game.
Given Arsenal's resolute performance against Spurs last week, when they showed some real grit to their play, one could have been forgiven for being positive.
The referee blew the whistle and we were off. Four minutes in, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain gave the ball away to Andre Schürrle and he sprinted away towards the Arsenal goal, laid it off to Samuel Eto'o who then curled it delightfully into the far corner. 1-0 to Chelsea already, the signs were looking ominous.
Arsenal looked nervy, off the pace and Chelsea seemed in the mood. They barely had time to blink and three minutes later it was 2-0. Again, the ball was given away by an Arsenal player in the middle of the park, the culprit this time being Santi Cazorla who was dispossessed by Nemanja Matic.
Schürrle galloed ahead again, Eto'o alongside him. The Cameroonian made a decoy run which opened up a shot for Schürrle into the far corner, leaving Wojciech Szczesny motionless. This was beginning to resemble the start Arsenal had against Liverpool, eventually losing 5-1. Little did they know that Saturday was going to be worse.
The pressure was relentless. Chelsea gave Arsenal no time on the ball, forcing errors from them time and again. It seemed like it was only going to be a matter of time before Chelsea struck again.
After some pinball in the centre of the park, the Arsenal players got in each other's way and Chelsea broke again. Fernando Torres set Eden Hazard up with a shot at the edge of the box which looked as if it was going wide anyway, but Oxlade-Chamberlain blatantly handled the ball which resulted in a penalty.
What ensued was one of the most bizarre decisions one has seen in recent times in a game of this magnitude, with the referee in a case of mistaken identity, sending off Kieran Gibbs instead of Oxlade -Chamberlain.
It made no difference to Chelsea. Up stepped Hazard who calmly slotted home the penalty. 3-0 to Chelsea with only 17 minutes gone.
What Wenger should have now done with 10 men on the pitch, was to switch to a defensive set-up and go into damage control mode. He should've brought on Mathieu Flamini to sure up his defence immediately, but he waited until half-time to do that. The game was beyond them now and they should've gotten every man behind the ball to avoid an even heavier defeat. Trying to hit Chelsea on the counter-attack would've been their only hope, if at all.
With Jose Mourinho and Wenger not exactly sharing the best relationship, Chelsea were going for the jugular and weren't showing any signs of slowing down. They wanted to make a statement and so they did. Oscar clipped home from Torres' low cross just before half-time to make it 4-0. Regardless of the poor performance of the Arsenal team, Chelsea played with energy, fervor and a real killer instinct which caught the Arsenal backline sleeping.
The second half was a perfunctory affair, with the game already all but over and not even the remotest chance left for an upset. Chelsea were in cruise control, Arsenal were out-of-control. This kind of a capitulation has taken place against all the big teams in the league this season, with this defeat probably being the final nail in the coffin for Arsenal's title challenge.
They have conceded six against Manchester City, five against Liverpool and now six against Chelsea. Even with 10 men, conceding six goals while harbouring hopes of winning the league is unacceptable.
The only salvation left for Arsenal and Monsieur Wenger is the FA Cup. Arsenal play Wigan next, who knocked out Manchester City and will play either Sheffield United or Charlton in the final if they can manage to get past the Latics.
Failure in this competition would surely be the final straw for critics of Wenger, who are calling for his head. Win the FA Cup and his detractors will be kept quiet for at least another season.
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