For any Arsenal fan, Chelsea away (Chelsea at home even) is a fixture that requires much soul searching. This takes place before, during and after the usually fairly demoralising encounter.
My standard recompense for the recent one-sidedness of this fixture is to argue that football is, for me, about the series of 90minute segments of my time that I spend watching it and that for my tastes (and I would argue most people’s tastes) Arsenal offer the best minute by minute value of any English side. Thinking this way allows me to continue to enjoy supporting Arsenal after five trophyless years (I don’t actually get to touch the trophy anyway, do I?), the most recent of which have been punctuated by some fairly comprehensive defeats at the hands of those relentless pot winners Chelsea.
Chelsea in many ways represent the antithesis of my football philosophy. In spite of the goal glut that has coincided (I think that is the right word, as I can’t see how he has caused it) with Carlo Ancelotti’s arrival I still think Chelsea are a fundamentally boring team to watch. Clearly, Drogba, Cole, Essien and Lampard are excellent players but they are excellent in the way that a Mercedes is an excellent car: efficient, effortlessly fast, powerful and ultimately comfortable. Arsenal are more of a trial and error team, a kit-car if you will, with Arsene Wenger the eccentric professor who presides over the whole possibly doomed endeavour.
A lot of Arsenal fans think this way. Arshavin is forgiven for his many inexplicable lapses because we know that the next time he could find the turbo that transforms the precious probing at the edge of the box that we all love to watch into that oft-lamented end product. RVP is lovingly irreplaceable in our hearts in spite of his almost permanent absence because he returns always the same dashingly brilliant central sprite.
These imperfections, and many more like them, are, like the lulls in a crescendo or the comic relief in a tragedy, the very reason that we love the Arsenal. And the lack of these in Chelsea’s football, married to the huge overabundance (in certain players at least) of fairly major personality flaws, is why I can never love Chelsea.