A week is a long time in football, someone once said.

Or maybe it was politics.

Anyway, I think we can all agree there is a certain truth in that statement.

I’ll give you two examples.

One week ago, apart from some bullish Gooners who may have been prepared to ignore nine years worth of damning evidence (that’s just Lee and Helen as far as I can tell), you’d have been hard pressed to find anyone who genuinely thought Arsenal would beat Manchester United.

One week ago, or maybe it was a little further back than that, I expressed the belief that watching other football teams in the hope that they end up with egg on their face was a pointless exercise. As I put it at the time when it comes to stupid “Arsenal are in a league of their own”.

Of course, Arsenal profited from some Arsenal style generosity on Monday. And then, on Wednesday night, a Paris Saint Germain-sized miracle in south west London.

I know some people might have a problem with the term “miracle“, after all PSG are a club backed with just as much financial muscle as Chelsea. It’s not like they are a team like, ohhh, Bradford for example.

But still, Chelsea had 90 minutes at home against a team who played with one player less than them and their only plan was… not to concede a goal.

Millions and millions of pound spent on their team, the finest tactical brain (apparently) of the 21st century and that’s the best they could come up with.


Okay, had they managed to carry that off, then they’d have been in the next round with no questions asked.

Or not as many questions, anyway.

But they didn’t.

You can wonder, as Jose Mourinho did after the game, what was going through the players heads, but when it is you who repeatedly approach games like these with that kind of mentality, at what point do you  – yes, you Jose – have to take responsibility?

Let’s be clear, here, had Chelsea gone and out and tried to win the game and lost to ten men, they’d still be getting laughed at, but you wouldn’t be questioning their approach.

And that largely distasteful approach came from the manager.

Perhaps he was inspired by watching Manchester United’s pathetic performance at home to us on Monday night. You know, I can imagine Jose sitting at home watching United totally forgetting about playing football and trying to cheat their way back into a match and thinking,

“Amateurs! I’ll show them”

Or whatever the Portuguese is for that sentence.

Isn’t it ridiculous?

Arsenal can no longer claim poverty, we all know that but across two out of three midweek nights we saw two of the richest clubs in the world (United #2 and Chelsea #7 in Deloitte’s latest list) forget football and resort to the kind of chicanery even WWE fans would struggle to believe*.

What was going on?

In Manchester United’s case, their last twenty minutes reminded me of the night we planted our flag on their centre spot (metaphorically speaking, of course) in May, 2002. They weren’t interested in trying to take us on in a football match because they knew they would lose.

Then as now, that’s exactly what happened. But I think they lost a bit of their dignity too.

Time will tell what effect Monday night’s match had on both teams, but for Arsenal to win the way they did – well, it should be a huge confidence boost.

In the same way, Chelsea with a five point lead at the top of the Premier League, and two games in hand, look nailed on to regain the Premier League title, but who knows how their Champions League exit and the manner of it will impact upon them?

It may not have any impact at all, after all they are well used to being reviled across the land.

It just strikes me that there’s an element of the “Emperor’s New Clothes” about Jose Mourinho these days.

In fact, even though he and Chelsea are clearly made for each other, I don’t believe he’ll be in charge there beyond the end of next season – yes folks, you heard it here first…**

Watching United and Chelsea, I find myself- once again – glad that, for all his faults (and he’d be the first to say that he’s got a few) we have a man like Arsene Wenger in charge of our football club.

He would have derived great satisfaction for overcoming a United performance as cowardly as Monday night’s.

He would, I think, have been aghast at, if not surprised by, Chelsea on Wednesday. And, yes, I know Arsenal are not exactly blameless – particularly when it comes to diving (although well behaved recently), but the difference is we don’t send our players out to cheat the referee, or the opposition. We don’t send our players out to try and turn a football match into some kind of pantomime.

Our players are sent out, even when they play defensively, to try and win football matches fair and square.

Our manager is laughed at when we come up short. Yes, I’d like to see us be a little more streetwise at times.

It seems that we may be learning…

Before I bid you farewell for the weekend, a word for both Danny Welbeck and David Luiz.

Both men were shown the door by their previous employers with slightly cruel words ringing in their ears.

We all know what those words were, they may even have had a slight ring of truth to them. However, that both Welbeck and Luiz were able to return to their former employers, leaving them with a three-egg omelette all over their club blazers… well, we’re back where we started, talking about miracles.

It’s the feel good hit of the summer (spring).

*I may be showing my age here, but if Arsenal were a wrestler, surely we’d be Bret “Hitman” Hart (technical excellence) with Chelsea cast as Triple H (unfair advantage as standard) and Shawn Michaels as Manchester United (showy but really pretty unpleasant)?

** No inside info, obvs, just a hunch.

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It's a family affair... third generation Gooner, obsessed with Arsenal since the 80's. I've been writing about that obsession and, ever so occasionally, the team since 2004 in a variety of places, but have found a natural home here. As you will find out if you stick around long enough, I am a huge fan of Santi Cazorla. I'm extremely fond of cheese, Marmite, Pipers Salt n' Vinegar crisps, Pilsner Urquell, vodka tonics and absinthe. I am also hopelessly obsessed with Depeche Mode.