The Arrogance of Chelsea’s Competition

“I think collectively we completely dominated the game.” – ?

Guess who said that over the weekend? Ancelotti over our solid win over Wolves? No, that sound bite was given by Arsene Wenger after his Gunners “dominating” performance against Manchester City this past weekend.

Granted it was a good win for the Gunners, and I won’t take too much away from them for playing against 10 men for most of the match, because they successfully induced the young Boyata into a foolishly pointless tackle. But some of the postmatch comments from the young Gunners had a tinge of exuberance bordering on arrogance, i.e. from the talented but at times foot-in-mouth prone Cesc Fabregas: “We stayed composed the entire game. We were fantastic. Even if [City had] 15 men and we only had 11, we would still win.” Whaaa? Easy there Fab, yes your team played well (although Fab missed a PK and several makeable shots) against a solid squad that is a legitimate contender for the league title, but keep your feet on the ground. And I’m sure you read Chelsea D’s post on the whiny bitchiness of Clichy. So why all the pouting, chest pumping, and noses in the air?

That’s easy, it’s because they beat a team that beat us! It’s one of the classic (and fallacious) lines of reasoning in sport, if I beat someone that beat you, then I’m better than you. The rivalry between us and Arsenal is starting to get a little bit absurd, it’s obvious they’re obsessed with showing that they have as strong a side as we do, and since they can’t seem to be able to prove it on the pitch against our Blues, they’re settling for proving it against the rest of the league.

Personally, I really don’t give a shit if Arsenal are struggling or scoring five goals a match, my focus is on our Blues, because we have our own issues. But it is nice to see that we do have Arsenal’s number and that we’re in their heads, and that it’s becoming more evident that our cross-town rivals are a bunch of headcases.
And what about the high drama that went down up north with Rooney, Sir Alex and Co.? Apparently you can go back after you’ve said goodbye, I guess in the end the pull of Sir Alex’s stature and the prestige of playing for Man United was too much to leave. Or maybe it was the 250,000 pounds a week contract that he signed. Either way, after all that hullabaloo, Rooney is staying put, and since it was unlikely the Glazers were going to sell their most prized asset to a league rivals, I’m really not that disappointed.

To be honest, it’s actually been quite entertaining to witness the in-house squabbling of a rival team, and I don’t think this soap opera is quite over yet. Much like Kobe Bryant’s “trade me” phone interview tirade that he gave before the 2008 NBA season, Rooney’s transfer demand was rooted in his personal ambitions to win trophies, and his lack of confidence that he could do it with the current Red Devils squad.  The implicit statement both players made is that they felt their teammates weren’t up to the task of winning championships, which is pretty much a slight and slap to the face if you’re their teammate.

So will the reception in the dressing room be a little chilly when Rooney laces up for his return? We’ll never know, and what really matters is how the Devils play on the pitch. Bryant and the Lakers managed to make it to the Finals the same year he made his preseason trade demand, and it’s still early in the season, so it’s a very real possibility that Rooney & Co. will find their form at some point. And Chicharito showed in Rooney’s absence that he’s a potential star waiting in the wings, but will his confidence grow or wane as the season progresses? Will there be any resentment that he’s going to be relegated back to the bench in favor of his slightly more talented and infinitely more beloved teammate?

Let’s hope so, if you’re a Chelsea fan!



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