07 August 2005

Community Shield: Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal

A depressing result, of course.

Didier Drogba was the Chelsea attack. His first goal was an impressive feat of skill, while his second was an impressive feat of strength. The defense was a bit lacking, but only just. With the first goal, Senderos gave Drogba just a hint of freedom, which was all he needed. With the second, I think the problems started with a failed offside trap (Arsenal were trapping very far upfield, as they have been for some time now). None of the defenders could get better position, and it's hard to know what more Senderos or Lehman could have done without giving up a clear penalty. Drogba fought them off. The game accounts are faulting Senderos rather strongly, but I don't feel it was that bad a game for the kid, and I'm not too worried about it, for now.

The Arsenal goal was well worked, with a fine through ball from Ljungberg, nicely dummied by van Persie, followed by a well-taken goal from Fabregas. However, it was somewhat worrisome that Arsenal didn't offer more ideas in the last 20 yards. The Gunners had tons of posession, and looked on the edge of solid chances many times. But Chelsea were always able to break up the last pass or get just enough pressure on the shot. Arsenal have tended to be somewhat profligate with their posession lately, and today was a clear example of that.

Certainly disappointing. And yet there are some positives to take away. Arsenal were able to impose much of their will on the Blues, for a large part of the game, and came very close to having things come off much differently. The six subs, all in the second half, really broke up the flow of Arsenal's game, and yet they still were able to do a lot with the ball. Hleb did some interesting things in the game, and looks to bring a somewhat different dimension to the Gunners' midfield. Perhaps more heartening was the sloppiness of Chelsea's game. They gave away easy balls quite often, and were quite wasteful with posession. If today's game is any indicator, they'll give up a good sight more goals than last year. And I don't know who else might have scored for them, were it not for Drogba's efforts.

So. It's still a loss, of course. But I think there's a few positives to take away. If nothing else, it was a well-played, open, and energetic game. They'll meet again at Stamford Bridge in two weeks. That looks to be a damn fine soccer match.

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