Monday, 6 October 2014

Arsenal Lose 2-0 Away To Chelsea

Arsenal went to Chelsea yesterday knowing they had to do everything they could to avoid defeat and that a win would of course be ideal. Their away record against the top three last season was abysmal and their long injury list didn't help when it came to team selection. Arsene Wenger had never beaten Jose Mourinho in a competitive game either and all the signs pointed to a Chelsea win.

The Arsenal team showed only one change from the midweek win over Galatasaray with Jack Wilshere coming in to replace Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. It meant Arsenal had a midfield trio of Mathieu Flamini, Santi Cazorla and Wilshere as they looked to counter Chelsea's power in that department. Chelsea had a distinct height advantage and I worried Arsenal would struggle from set pieces.

There wasn't an awful lot to the opening exchanges except for a collision between Alexis Sanchez and Thibaut Courtois when the Arsenal player tried to get to a through ball. Courtois was obviously hurt, but the Chelsea doctor gave him the all clear and he played on. It turned out to be the wrong decision as Peter Cech had to replace him with blood apparently coming out of his ears.

Soon afterwards the game had it's first big controversial moment when Gary Cahill lunged at Alexis on the sideline and the referee gave him a yellow card. He went straight over the ball with no intention of playing it and took the Arsenal player out for what should have been a red card. Chelsea got away very lightly and the two managers weren't exactly keeping their cool on the sidelines either. There was a bit of a pushing match and the referee had to have words with both of them.

Chelsea took advantage of their stroke of luck soon afterwards when Eden Hazard made a great run into the Arsenal box and was taken down for a penalty by Laurent Koscielny. The Arsenal player could easily have seen red as he was the last man back although it could be argued Hazard was going away from goal. Hazard got up himself to take the penalty and despatch it coolly into the corner of the net.

As far as Chelsea were concerned the game was over and they didn't commit many players forward after that as they looked to hold what they had. Mesut Ozil was having very little impact on the game at that stage, but neither was Cesc Fabregas as both teams cancelled each other out. That suited Chelsea perfectly, but it was of little use to an Arsenal team who needed to get back into the game.

Arsenal came out for the second half looking determined to make an impression with both Wilshere and Cazorla playing well. Chelsea are old hands at parking the bus and made sure they had enough players behind the ball at all times to frustrate Arsenal. As the half progressed they were always going to have to take a few risks to try to get back into the game and Chelsea waited for their chance.

The Arsenal substitutions were curious to say the least with first Cazorla and then Wilshere going off to be replaced by Chamberlain and Tomas Rosicky. The team lost it's fluidity for me at that stage and looked even less likely to recover. I'm a huge fan of Ozil but he was well off his game and was too easily dispossessed and he was the one who should have been replaced. I didn't think Welbeck had the best game either, but there was very little space for him to operate in or opportunity for him to do anything at all.

With a little more than 10 minutes left Chelsea got the chance to finish the game off that they had waited off and Diego Costa made no mistake when he was played through by Fabregas. The Arsenal central defenders were caught square by a ball over the top from Fabregas and Wojciech Szczesny was lobbed easily as Costa advanced on him. It's a goal Arsenal wouldn't have conceded if they weren't try to get back into the game, but Koscielny and Per Mertesacker shouldn't have been caught out so easily either. 

To add to Arsenal's troubles Calum Chambers picked up his fifth yellow card of the season and will miss the next league game against Hull in two weeks time. There was some talk of him possibly seeing red too after a body check on Andre Schurle after he had already received his yellow card, but I thought it was a very soft foul never mind being a second yellow card. With Mathieu Debuchy injured it should mean Hector Bellerin making his first start in the Premier League.

The defeat leaves Arsenal nine points behind Chelsea after only seven games and with only two wins in those seven games. It hasn't been the easiest start for Arsenal, but worryingly they haven't won any of their four games against teams who finished in the top seven last season. It looks like lessons just haven't been learned and not only on the pitch but in the transfer market too.

Arsenal have a run of league games coming up which are by no means easy but they are all winnable and that's exactly what the team has to do. The top four is what their target has to be this season and that's not going to be easy if they can't beat the teams they are challenging for that top four spot. 

I know Welbeck didn't have the best game, but I dread to think what state the team would be in if Olivier Giroud had broken his leg a week later. It's all well and good to see the boss and Mourinho nearly coming to blows on the sideline, but maybe he could have shown his commitment to the club by getting the players that were so obviously needed in the summer. Without those players it's another season of not being good enough to win the league and yet another season's wait until Arsenal hopefully reach a level where they can truly compete again. 

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.


  1. It's not surprising Arsenal lost.Whatever it is ,Wenger has lost the tactical battle.His one dimensional style is easy to counter. The fm expects unfettered access when his gunners are passing.His motto is I let you pass,you let me pass. How naïve can atop class manager get.
    Pragmatic bosses like Pelegrini,red face and Mourino will mix it. That's the difference between a winner and a loser.
    Until he can convince the critics he still has something different to offer,this season's epl is out of reach. It maybe early days but the omens aint good with a stubborn old guy in charge who refuses to adapt,

    1. I thought he changed his style a little yesterday but the crucial break went Chelsea's way and Arsenal couldn't get back into the game. With the players they had available there wasn't really any other way to play.