Thursday, December 1, 2022

We’re no longer top and that’s fantastic + CL draw reaction

Good morning! What a fun morning it is! A cheery, hilarious, uproarious, side-splitting, rib-tickling, laugh-a-minute morning! And it’s all because we’re no longer top of the league.

Under normal circumstances this is not something that would be cause for celebration. It’s good being top. Quite obviously it’s better than all other 19 places in the league, but right now the fact that Leicester are top is wonderful. Not because of any tedious ‘It’s a great football story’ nonsense. What a crock.

I mean, it is kind of amazing, and probably great for football, but ultimately I’m not invested in any way in their success, especially if it comes at our expense. What I can get into though is the misery of Chelsea and Jose Mourinho. What’s happening there this season is quite extraordinary. Another defeat and another magnificent post-game interview with the Chelsea manager.

After his incredible self-indulgent 7-minute rant earlier in the season, last night’s was pure joy. He blamed the players, saying he was ‘betrayed’ by them, before claiming that last season’s success was  down to him making them look better than they actually are. He blamed the Leicester city ball-boys, calling them a ‘disgrace’, and all the while it’s more and more apparent that the Chelsea players simply do not want to play for him:

By any standards it’s remarkable stuff, but that this is a situation Mourinho himself appears to have engineered entirely on his own it’s even better. In the very first Arsecast of this season I remember chatting with Ken Early about how agitated and confrontational he seemed before a ball had even been kicked in anger. He was picking fights with anyone and everyone, and as time has gone on the consequences of that have been seen on the pitch and in the Chelsea performances.

Let’s be clear: this is last season’s Champions we’re talking about. Collectively and individually they are capable of much, much better, but when there’s a schism between players and their manager even professional pride isn’t enough to sustain performances. There’s also the ‘wounded lion’ scenario going on, where opponents no longer fear playing a Mourinho side.

That he appears to have been solely responsible for it makes it all the more glorious. His treatment of Doctor Eva Carneiro was appalling; his man-management style is such that he cannot adapt when things go wrong; and if he was the one who made them so good they won the league last season, he’s obviously the one that’s made them so bad they’re just a point above the relegation places.

I don’t think he wants to be Chelsea manager any more. I think the 7-minute rant I mentioned earlier was an attempt to get himself fired, and last night’s interview in which he threw the players under the bus (one that he had parked himself, naturally), before reversing over them in that bus a few times just to make sure, was another one. I suspect he might get his wish. Until then though:


Oh, and if they get relegated, which I doubt but you never know, I’m going to buy their end of season DVD review because it’ll be right up there with Airplane, Blazing Saddles and Hot Shots Part Deux as the greatest comedies of all time.

Meanwhile, the draw was made for the knock-out stages of the Champions League, and as I fully expected we got that little known Spanish side with those hugely overrated forwards. I don’t know what everyone’s worried about. Flat track bullies, rubbish league, can’t do it on a cold February night in London blah blah blah.

Ok, so maybe it’s a pretty difficult task, and maybe they are a bit good. Like best team in Europe good, but hey, this is what the Champions League is all about. If you ask me if I’d rather be playing Barcelona in spring or schlepping half-way across Europe to play in the Europa League, I know which I’d choose, even if the latter might be an easier option on paper.

Thankfully, football doesn’t work like that. It can be weird and surprising. Think back to that night when we went out at Camp Nou having won the first leg with that spine-tingling Arshavin goal. Messi scored twice, but Arsenal were down to 10 men after Robin van Persie had been ludicrously sent-off and still could have gone through had Nicklas Bendtner not had the feet of Mr Tumnus in the final few minutes.

Sent clear through on goal by Jack Wilshere he had the chance to make himself an Arsenal hero, perhaps change the entire trajectory of his career. Instead his first touch let him down, Barcelona cleared, and he ultimately ended up in a place in his life where he thought having sex with a taxi was a good idea. I mean, some cars are genuinely lovely, but come on.

Barcelona are ridiculously strong up front, but they were back then too, and this was an Arsenal squad that contained Silvestre, Squillaci, Djourou, Denilson and Chamakh. If that lot can almost get through against 10 men and an official who found envelopes full of cash in his hotel room after the game, then there’s no reason why this current crop can’t give it a go.

Realistically, it’s going to be hugely difficult. I don’t think anybody’s arguing against that, but would you have said before this season began that last season’s champions would have lost to Man City, Crystal Palace, Everton, Southampton, West Ham, Liverpool, Stoke, Bournemouth, and Leicester before December was out? You would not, but it’s true. Chelsea have lost to Man City, Crystal Palace, Everton, Southampton, West Ham, Liverpool, Stoke, Bournemouth, and Leicester and December is not out. Just thought I should mention that.

It just goes to show that you just never know what might happen. My flights are booked. I’ll see some of you there for an Estrella or two. Whatever happens it’ll be fun.

If you want to hear James and I react live to the Champions League draw, you can do that by checking out this week’s Arsecast Extra. Find it here, via Acast, or subscribe on iTunes. We also discuss the Villa game, Petr Cech, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and the best breakfast cereals of all time, so all the bases are pretty much covered there.

That’s your lot for this morning, news throughout the day on Arseblog News, more from me tomorrow when I might just have stopped laughing at Mourinho.


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