The collapse at Arsenal sums up Chelsea’s product of deadly and useless celebrity

<span>Photo: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian</span>” src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/ 8e0844a5″ data-src= “–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/ 44a5″/></div>
<p><figcaption class=Photography: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Lives. Breathe. Those saggy limbs have blossomed with new life. There will be time, too, for the most surprising aspect of this late-season hit at the Emirates, the strange zombified show currently operating as Chelsea Football Club.

Before then the headlines will rightfully be about Arsenal, on a night when their seemingly doomed headline drove a punch through the turf and back to their feet. A 3-1 win means Arsenal are now two points clear at the top of the table, although they have played two more games than a Manchester City side who seem to be winning games these days simply by standing up and aiming vaguely in the right direction. Arsenal have been lively, busy and full of clever angles for as long as they need to be one of those things, which hasn’t been very long at all.

For the home supporters and the manager this game wasn’t really about this season, not at all anyway. The games that remain are more about confirming that this team is real, that the energy and the structures are really going to be there next year, that something substantial has been created, not just a one-season appearance.

Related: Ødegaard brace puts Arsenal back at the top of the Premier League as Chelsea wither

Mikel Arteta’s side duly raided Chelsea. Martin Ødegaard was irresistible in the first 20 minutes, slipped between the lines and always in a state of rotation, body leaning towards the pass, a footballer born in the half-turn.

But underneath this show was another item of deep fascination here. In the midst of life we ​​are in death. Silence please, for one of the most complete expressions to date of the complex and sometimes rather chilling sense of Chelsea’s sporting entropy. Everyone knows Chelsea are bad. Defeat here resulted in six hits for Frank Lampard, Llanfairpwllgwyngyll’s manager with the most Ls. Chelsea have outspent more than any other club in Europe and are now level on points with a team whose manager took one look at his side at the start of the season and abruptly left.

But it’s not just this. Instead, it’s the way Chelsea are bad. What is this thing, parading across the weedy Chelsea FC stage, eyes burning with dead energy, one slim hand clasped on your wrist, reaching out to tell its tale of stolen youth and wasted days, idle as a ship painted on a painted ocean?

Here the blue jerseys moved and even at times they seemed to share some vague muscular memory of being a team. But above all, Chelsea had a foundation of restlessness, sport without play, joy or energy, sport as something unheimlichcreepy, undead.

Arsenal's Gabriel Jesus (centre) celebrates scoring the third goal through Oleksandr Zinchenko.

Freud said that the basis of all horror stories is uncertainty as to whether an entity is dead or alive. And fair play for the boy Sigmund, he practically called him. This iteration of Chelsea is what football in the invite-only Super League would have been like, not so much a team as a product of deadly and useless celebrity. Let’s play an all-star game. We accumulate all the money to buy all the players. Let’s flex our fangs and squeeze every last drop of revenue out of this thing now. We kill and move on.

Chelsea’s starting XI was at least interesting, disruptive and strange, which seem to be the qualities the ownership most admire. Here’s a Kremlin-era brave, here’s a supermarket oddity, some casino chip players, some buy one get one free.

By kick-off the air inside the Emirates Stadium had turned a beautiful powder blue. And Arsenal were smooth, fluid and filled with that familiar fury of precision early on. The first goal came from a total collapse of the resistance. Granit Xhaka had time to send a low, undulating cross across the Chelsea penalty area, past some players in blue who looked mesmerized by this rolling white ball. Ødegaard was left free to apply the full force of his left foot, sending it high into the net past Kepa Arrizabalaga’s clenched hand.

In an excellent satirical twist, the second goal came from the same space, same cross, same finish, this time Leandro Trossard passed for Ødegaard to score again. The third goal came in the 34th minute, Gabriel Jesus crushed it after a scrum.

And through it all the story behind the story was Chelsea FC’s amazing display, a footballing death in the life. What did Todd Boehly (and associates) do? How did you drain this thing so mercilessly? This is sport as greed-ridden inconsistency, as a game of celebrity stock and deed. It is a bad plan badly implemented by people who are not good at executing plans. It is, to its fullest extent, the death of it all: anti-sport, non-football.

Chelsea played with a little more energy in the second half. Noni Madueke scored his first goal for the club. And so the funeral procession continues. If Chelsea lose at the weekend, they will find themselves under Bournemouth and possibly against Wolves. There is an argument that there has never been a team so poorly built, a team that points the way so clearly to the loss of anything that looks like proper sport. For that, English football should probably be grateful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *