Thursday 22 February 2018

Wenger high on emotion as season takes another twist

Chelsea's Ashley Cole tackles Arsenal's Gervinho. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Chelsea's Ashley Cole tackles Arsenal's Gervinho. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Arsenal's hat-trick hero Robin van Persie battles with Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic
Robin van Persie (left)


The Premier League is a world where reason and reflection are sidelined. Instead there is outrage and allegation. The politics of the last piece of atrocious behaviour is all-consuming.

Arsenal's 5-3 victory at Stamford bridge might be part of a trend or it might need to be treated in isolation.

A Robin van Persie hat-trick can't be viewed in isolation as Arsenal's leader continues to drive them forward. "He's on fire," Arsene Wenger said afterwards.

Wenger was asked if their 5-3 win was part of a trend. "That's a good question," he said, before rolling out some theories that didn't seem exactly thought out. Even an intellectual like Wenger is allowed to take the adrenaline rush from a victory like this one. He can cruise on emotion and dissect the game another time.

"Winning is the best habit in my job," Wenger smiled as he reflected on another Arsenal win and their most unlikely.

He has been consumed by the desperate, destructive addictions of football management so he was entitled to welcome this hit of pure, uncut adrenaline and good times.

Arsenal have now won their last five games in all competitions but for many the expectation was that yesterday they would struggle as they had at White Hart Lane or Old Trafford.

Instead they scored five, four in the second half, and conceded three, the first two in a desperate first half performance. Ultimately it was a game which allowed them to forget about their problems and ensured that Chelsea and Andre Villas-Boas would have to think about theirs.

John Terry was at the centre of events again, slipping critically on the halfway line to allow Van Persie through for Arsenal's decisive fourth goal.

He had scored at the end of the first half to give Chelsea a lead and it was one of those affected moments of redemption and character that are often put forward as being significant.

Ultimately, the goal had no bearing on the game and his slip suggested it hadn't improved his performance while the allegations of racism exist separately to anything Terry does in the field or indeed any of his previous misdemeanours.

Villas-Boas has already defended his captain. "There was no situation, it's a misunderstanding," he said again yesterday, before insisting the FA's inquiry would have no affect on his captain. "Let the FA investigate," he said.

Villas-Boas must do his own detective work as he tried to work out why Chelsea conceded five goals at home.

He had nothing to say about a moment when Wojciech Szczesny brought Ashley Cole down but got away with a booking.

Szczesny was not so reticent, tweeting later that "I don't know why I stayed on the pitch but WHAT A GAME!! Great spirit, great atmosphere and a great win!"

Nobody could dispute that. Chelsea, too, had appeared to chase the emotion, with Villas-Boas saying that after his side brought the game back to 3-3 with ten minutes to go, the team went for "our best emotional moment".

Instead they ended up with one of their worst, a 5-3 home defeat against fierce rivals and yet another hint that whatever objective Villas-Boas is aiming for with this side, there will be some painful moments in its pursuit.

"It was," Chelsea's manager conceded, "a very important defeat." The manner of it was, he said, down to "the nature of the Premiership" as if he had handed over some authority for his side's defending to some governing body at Premier League headquarters.

Wenger would agree about the importance of yesterday's game and he sees none in their early season form.

"What has changed is that we got half of the team in on the August 31, we had to rebuild completely in the way we want to play football. Now the players are used to the way we play but we have to remain humble."

Finally he has seen a trend he can believe in.

Sunday Indo Sport

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