Tom Watt: The view from Arsenal

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The Independent Online

I guess everybody was wondering whether Saturday's semi-final would have delivered a psychological blow to Arsenal. As it turned out, last night was a triumph for Chelsea's power and athleticism.

I guess everybody was wondering whether Saturday's semi-final would have delivered a psychological blow to Arsenal. As it turned out, last night was a triumph for Chelsea's power and athleticism.

Arsenal started like an absolute express train. They played as well as they have all season. They were winning every 50-50 ball, crashing into tackles - you just thought you were watching a team that was going to get through to the semi-final of the Champions' League, just on desire if nothing else.

We were sat here watching this fantastic exhibition of passing and movement, disappointed that it hadn't had the reward of a goal and when it came I think it took Chelsea by surprise. It took every supporter in the ground by surprise. Arsenal never score from big crosses headed back across goal and then bundled in to the far post.

I was ecstatic. Arsenal had just dominated the whole first half and you felt Chelsea at times were hanging on.

It was pretty clear from the start of the second half that the game stopped being about what Arsenal were going to do and how Chelsea were going to counter it, instead it became about Chelsea's approach. When Ranieri brought on Gronkjaer after half time, it signalled Chelsea's intent to take charge of the game and that's exactly what they did.

I'm a big fan of Jens Lehmann, I stuck up for him when his failed clearance at Stamford Bridge allowed Chelsea to take the lead in the first leg, but his part in Chelsea's equaliser was key. You thought there was no danger. Makelele has just swung a boot at one, 25 yards out. The ball dipped and swerved and seemed to bounce off the German keeper's chest. You can always rely on Frank Lampard to follow up - no surprise it was him who was there to roll in the rebound. At that moment in the game, it was a huge blow but I felt like Arsenal, especially with Reyes on the pitch, had enough to get back.

Some people will look at it and say doubt started to creep into Arsenal's minds. I think it was more to do with tired legs. Chelsea got stronger and Arsenal ran out of ideas and lost Henry. You could see Chelsea's players start to believe the game was there for the taking.

Suddenly, you're sitting there fearing the worst because Chelsea were playing all the purposeful football while Arsenal were starting to hit and hope.Then Wayne Bridge just burst into the penalty area as if it was in the third minute, not three minutes from time.

After that goal, it was weird silence around me where the Arsenal fans were, punctured only by the celebrations in a corner of the Clock End between Chelsea's players and their 3,000 fans.

Where Arsenal go from here is winning the Premiership. It's a reminder again, like last season, that playing the best football doesn't necessarily win you the matches that count.

Tom Watt is a sports presenter on BBC London 94.9.

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