Arsenal need to bulk up to avoid blowout
It used to be said that rugby was a sport for all shapes and sizes yet the modern professional game is so dominated by massive, athletic gym monkeys that diminutive wingers such as Shane Williams are as rare as England tries.
Impact and collision will always play less of a role in the round-ball game and as long as referees help out smaller players by awarding cheap free kicks, being knocked over will not always be bad.
Yet the over-riding impression on Sunday was of men against boys.
With Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Eduardo, Andrei Arshavin, Carlos Vela, Theo Walcott and Tomas Rosicky scuttling around the pitch, Arsene Wenger’s place on the touchline could have been taken by Snow White.
Yes they are skilful, sharp and often evasive but when pitched en masse against the likes of Michael Essien, Branislav Ivanovic, Jon Obi Mikel, John Terry and Didier Drogba the confrontation more often than not ended with Chelsea in possession.
Wenger, as usual, saw things differently, telling reporters that it was “too easy to have that impression” and that a video analysis of the physical side of the match “would surprise you specialists”.
Wenger can point to the fact that Arsenal have, until their last two league games at least, been scoring at will and that many of the goals and most of the assists have come from his smaller players, but it will not have gone unnoticed by other managers how easily they were brushed aside on Sunday.
There will always be a place for a nippy little winger in football and most teams could probably find room for a few of them but there is always a balance.
I love a bit of ham but a whole plate of it will never be as good as when some choice slices are stuck between two sturdy slices of bread.
PHOTO: Chelsea’s Didier Drogba (top) and Arsenal’s William Gallas react as Arsenal score an own goal during their English Premier League soccer match at the Emirates Stadium in London November 29, 2009. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh