Sunday, 7 February 2010

Terry refuses to buckle as Drogba takes Arsenal apart once more

IT took just seven minutes of Chelsea's 2-0 win over Arsenal at Stamford Bridge today for John Terry to prove the point I've been making all week. Under incredible pressure, the axed England captain can produce the goods on the field. It matters not that he is the subject of continuing media speculation, that he gets booed at every touch, that he has been publicly humiliated this week.
At Chelsea today, it was his towering header over Arsenal's otherwise impressive Alex Song which set up the opening goal for Didier Drogba, the Ivory Coast striker who loves to score against the Gunners.
That's why Fabio Capello's decision to axe Terry before the World Cup is flawed. Okay, we all understand the reasons for it - the relationship with Wayne Bridge's former partner was always going to be a problem - and the Italian has proved he is omnipotent in the England camp.
But you won't find a better man than Terry to lead the World Cup campaign this summer. His morals can be questioned and even on £150,000 a week his bank balance may be under pressure, but the man is a mountain on the field.
So too is Drogba of course. He scored his second after 22 minutes when Frank Lampard set him free on the breakaway. The Drog had plenty of work to do from there, but he went past two and smashed it in with his left foot. 2-0. End of story. There was once a time when a man called Nwanko Kanu from Nigeria scored a hat-trick to help Arsenal to a 3-2 win over the Blues in October 1999.
But Chelsea haven't thrown away a 2-0 lead since then and certainly these Blues didn't let it slip.
Expensively constructed, well led by Carlo Ancelotti (who has stuck by Terry), they will remain Manchester United's only true rivals for Premier League supremacy.
And Arsenal, despite having most of the possession in the second half, revert to their customary position under the miserly Arsene Wenger. Well run, economically put together, but not real contenders.
Five years without silverware will soon become six. Third place may be defended despite pressure from Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester City and Aston Villa.
But for Arsenal fans, these last two Sundays, featuring emphatic defeats at the hands of United and Chelsea, have been hard to swallow. Sure, today was better than the 3-1 defeat at home to Sir Alex Ferguson last week, but how many times must we sit hear saying: "Arsenal were the better side but they didn't win, they don't have the firepower."
Without a genuine striker or a world class goalkeeper, Wenger continues to stick to his spending plans, if spending nothing can be called a plan.
And he does well to keep them in the Champions League shake-up year after year with players like the ineffective Denilson, dropped today, playing a major role.
But there will come a time when Arsenal fans want more. When they want something in the trophy cabinet. Much like England fans really.
And whatever you might think of John Terry's personal life, did you see him make a mistake at the back today?

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