Chelsea 2 Arsenal 0: Three talking points as Costa and Gabriel clash
Three talking points as Santi Cazorla and Gabriel see red for Arsenal
Mourinho and his cult of personality at Stamford Bridge
The most relieved man in all of SW6 will be Jose Mourinho as Chelsea claimed their first win of the season at the usual bastion of fortitude that is Stamford Bridge. Chelsea were marginally the better side, and the two stupid red cards helped their cause no end. But there is an odd feel around the stadium which seems unlike any other in the Premier League. The fans have few chants about their players, but commonly sing in voice to praise the manager Mourinho. The danger is now that Mourinho has put himself as a larger entity than the club. If he had his way, it would not be unsurprising to see an enormous image of Mourinho emblazoned across the Shed End, akin to Mao Zedong and other leaders in Communist countries. The fact is though that Chelsea have had their worst start to a season in Premier League history and Mourinho is largely responsible for that. Had Gabriel and then Santi Cazorla not been dismissed, the result could have been totally different. The side do not look like the team which charge to the title last season. The players looked laboured and a number of the key players are yet to perform. Sure, Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard put in better performances and both players were involved in the goals. But why is Mourinho so reluctant to drop these two players who are underperforming? Why aren’t the fickle fans calling for Mourinho’s head after their embarrassing start to the season? Even in his post-match interview, the Portuguese was unable to accept the controversial nature of the game. The result will do wonders for the mood within the camp, but there are much larger issues at the heart of the club, and also within the management. Big decisions lie ahead of the Blues.
Disciplinary issues of old come back to haunt Wenger
Long gone are the days of Arsenal were Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit were picking up bookings and red cards on a regular basis as well as the mean defensive line which included the oft reproached Martin Keown. Arsenal’s disciplinary record has plagued Arsene Wenger since his arrival in the Premier League, but it was also a secondary or tertiary point when the Gunners were swashbuckling their way to titles. Against Chelsea, the visitors showed that their current crop of players lacks the requisite game management. Gabriel is a relative newbie to the Premier League but he will need to learn fast about how to control his temperament against the big sides. Diego Costa could well heed the same message, but back to the Brazilian defender, he should not have got involved in that contretemps between Costa and Laurent Koscielny. He cost his side the game. Even more frustrating for Wenger will be Santi Cazorla. He is one of the senior statesmen of the Arsenal team and he will know the dangers of going to ground when booked previously. But the buck stops with Wenger – he needs to marshal his players differently. The Frenchman has done so much for the club and English football generally, but he should know that his role is more than just the purveyor of talent. He needs to work on how his players manage their games in tight situations.
Kingsholm to Stamford Bridge – football is in a sorry state
About 100 miles away from Stamford Bridge, two sides were going head to head in a very different ball game. Tonga and Georgia were knocking 10 bells out of one another at Kingsholm Stadium in the 2015 Rugby World Cup. While the game may be more aggressive, the respect and decorum that runs through rugby union, and rugby league too, is something which is foreign to the cavalcade of inordinately wealthy footballers. Every decision which Mike Dean made, whether they were wrong or otherwise, was challenged. This just would not happen over in Gloucestershire. There can be no doubt that Dean made one or two howlers over the 90 minutes. But his job is not helped by the crowds of players who continually harass him. But worst of all, this will happen across all the leagues in the football pyramid this weekend and until it finishes in May. Chelsea are one of the worst sides for this haranguing of the officials. Every decision is contested. As the champions of the Premier League, it could be argued that the Blues receive a number of favourable decisions as it is. A conscious effort needs to be made from all sides that this lack of respect for the referees and their assistants is eradicated from the game and quickly.