It was the 2nd consecutive seasons that Chelsea came to Ashburton Grove and left with a 3 goal winning margin. With the defeat, Arsenal’s league campaign is seemingly coming to an ominous outcome. Our 4th defeat now consigned us to 11 points behind of yesterday’s victors although we still have the one game in hand. It may not be the end of the tale just yet, with the Africa Nations Cup in January still to come where Chelsea will be left without Drogba, Obi-Mikel and Essien just to name a few.
However on evidence of this match alone, Arsenal will find it hard to take the League title back to North London. In every area of the pitch, men in red tried and tried and came up walls of men in blue. No matter how hard the players huff and puff, they were no match for the South Londoners. For every thing or move that they tried, Chelsea seemed to have a solution or two in their grasp.
Wenger said prior to the game that we can no longer hide behind the theory that we are still a young and inexperienced team, and he is right. Apart from Armand Traore at left back and Thomas Vermaelen (who have captained Ajax and is the current Belgian captain, so he doesn’t really counts), almost the entire team have had at least a minimum of 1 year in the Premier League. In today’s environment, the learning curve is indeed a steep one. No one is going to allow you time to grow at your own pace. The player who will make it is those who push themselves past the boundary and take the big step. Sadly, none can be seen last night.
Throughout the match, I kept thinking back to the United game last season where Nasri scored twice. I was trying to link it to this match and it struck me. Both were similar in that we had a run of bad results prior to the game and facing and in form team. But the same players fought for every ball and showed the desire to be first to the ball, failed to replicate the same in this match.
It will not be entirely fair to pin-point the defeat to any particular individuals as everyone was well below par. The Senderos detractors will need to look at this game and see why it was wrong to pick on the Swiss defender for all his previous endeavours with Drogba. Even the might Vermaelen could not live with the big Ivorian. More than one occasion, the Belgian seemed to lost bearing on where the striker was. Vermaelen’s performance is in a worryingly downward spiral and it has culminated in the last 2 league defeats.
In midfield, the decision to withdraw Song at half time to revert to a 4-4-2 strategy was puzzling to me. If we could not match Chelsea’s midfield with 3 players, how on earth are we going to match them with just the 2. Perhaps, Wenger needed someone with more pace and industry going forward, reasons why Denilson instead of Song was the one who got to stay. But it left the middle totally expose and it allowed Essien to have a growing influence on the game.
Eduardo as predicted did not get much change out of Terry/Carvalho combination and likewise did his partners in crime in Arshavin and Nasri. Even the 2 substitutes, Walcott and Vela, had no inkling of how to get past the rugged Chelsea defense. Walcott has really flatter to deceive. To me, he’s still someone with bags of pace but have absolutely no idea what to do with the ball. His dribbling skills doesn’t leave one purring for more. He needs to learn to vary his game to match the blinding speed he possess.
As this match has shown, Walcott is not the only Arsenal player still with miles of footballing education ahead of him. The season may yet flourish for us but at the moment it is all gloomy in the red side of North London.