Have Arsenal tossed aside the water pistols?

2010-12-29 00:00

FOR years, it seemed that Arsenal were totally incapable of gunning down the Blue brigade that is Chelsea.

No matter how in-form Arsene Wenger’s men — I mean boys — were, they always found a way to melt against the wealthy lot from West London. Indeed, the Gunners seemed to come to that particular war armed with water pistols and very little else.

Well, on Monday night they rolled out the artillery — and it actually fired. Of course, the fact that they caught Chelsea in a slump that is now beginning to resemble that of Mpumalanga Black Aces cannot be ignored, but let’s give Arsenal their due.

They played with purpose, with pace and a fair dose of flair. That the Gunners can play has never been in doubt; the issue has been the size of their marbles when the going got tough.

They certainly packed a punch on Monday, though it must be said that Chelsea pressed the self-destruct button with a reckless abandon that has seldom been seen from them.

Never mind what the most blue-eyed fan tells you, there is now a full-blown crisis at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have forgotten how to win and they look very uninspired at this stage of the season.

Arsenal’s second and third goals on Monday were like belated Christmas gifts as Chelsea just handed the ball to the Gunners on a silver platter.

What would Carlo Ancelotti give now to have Ricardo Carvalho still on his books? John Terry, for all his screaming and shouting, lacks the pace to handle the slicker strikers in the Premier League.

He has got away with this for years while he had William Gallas and Carvalho covering his tracks. With both gone, though, the former England skipper is looking rather average.

As well as Arsenal played on Monday, they cannot lay claim to being the prettiest club in London anymore — not in terms of playing.

The likes of Tony Adams, Ray Parlour and even Monsieur Wenger himself have long ensured that the Gunners would never make it onto GQ’s most enviable lot, but they certainly play some sexy stuff.

Even so, Tottenham Hotspur are playing supermodel-like football at times, and their win at Aston Villa showed that they will have a say in the title race.

By a “say”, I don’t mean they are in with a shout just yet, but they should make things interesting for the likes of Arsenal and the pair of Manchester clubs.

Rumour has it that Steven Pienaar may be on his way to White Hart Lane in the new year. That would certainly add to an already potent pack of pint-sized playmakers at Spurs.

Rafael van der Vaart and Luka Moric are doing sterling work, and Pienaar is no slouch when it comes to diski with an end result.

Add in Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon on either wing, and they have a pretty formidable starting eleven.

Heck, even Bongani Khumalo is coming to add more steel to the brittle backline. Surely Spurs have a very good chance of bringing Champions League football back to The Lane again.

It is hard to rule Chelsea out of the race just yet, but if they continue in this vein it won’t be long before they are too far behind to matter.

It certainly has been a curious, yet seriously entertaining year of football.

2010 was a year we had waited for, for so long, and yet it is days away from being last year.

The World Cup came and went with just about as much haste as a Cope convention, and those who missed it are probably feeling even worse than anyone who backed the “Terror squad”.

It has been a year to remember forever, and this scribe’s only regret is that its like will not be seen again in our lifetime.

Eish, at least it was here.

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