That didn’t turn out so well. There’s no arguments to be had, nothing which could convince me otherwise that we deserved to get something out of the game. Our first loss of the season and it allows Chelsea to open up a 7 points gap between us. A defeat at home, when we were hoping to build the fortress sense out of the Emirates Stadium.
I’m not going to make a big deal out of the central partnership of Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen. Before the game, anyone and everyone would have been fine with the inclusion of Koscielny. So there’s really no point to berate why Arsene Wenger played him instead of Per Mertesacker. There’s no doubt that Koscielny had a poor game. That doesn’t make him a bad player overnight, it’s just one of those days for a player where nothing comes off.
The French centre back’s contribution were far less helpful than it normally is. First, lost out in the strength fight with Fernando Torres and allowed himself to turn his back on the flight of the ball. Then in the second half, Koscielny wasn’t decisive enough in dealing with the Mata freekick. A freekick which came about after Vermaelen burst forward and no one fall back to stand in his stead. First and foremost, a defender should just clear the ball and not hope that it goes out for a goal kick or leave it for the keeper. Someone needed to take charge and that didn’t happen. There were also other sliding tackles which didn’t come off, his statistics are going plummet after yesterday.
The errors of the day doesn’t just lie with Koscielny, the midfield had to take a big part of the blame too. We weren’t able to match that of Chelsea’s. There were massive gaps between our attacking and defensive lines that allowed Chelsea to wrest control of midfield and win the second balls easily. While it’s true that in general we were able to deny them shots on goal, we did concede a lot of ball possession for them to spread the play around without much threat.
That meant that we saw little of the ball and thus reduce the chance for us to come back into the game. To our credit, we did managed it one time. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain drilled a low cross right to the centre of the penalty box that Gervinho controlled. A sharp turn and a powerful shot to the roof of the net, sent us into half time level on scores. We had not created much before but it was the perfect booster going into the break.
Yet, the side that came out in the second half was the same one that played in the first half. Slow and sloppy. If my mind is not in the right place, I would say that every single Arsenal players bar the full backs, were trying to outdo each other for the title of sloppiness. Passes went astray and runs misunderstood. Almost as if these players are playing together for the first time.
The loss of Abou Diaby early in the first half played it’s part. Aaron Ramsey shifted back in centrally and AOC brought in. The shape stayed pretty much the same. Plus for the second big game in a row, Lukas Podolski was inconspicuous. Even when we went behind for the second time in the game, the players could hardly raise their game to find us the equaliser. Olivier Giroud with the best chance after he was put through by Santi Cazorla. But the striker drilled it wide after rounding the keeper. It is a little worrying that despite being one down at home to one of our rivals, we did not go on an all out assault on their goal to get back into the game.
The two full backs are probably the only ones who could come out of this game with heads held up. Carl Jenkinson and Kieran Gibbs were again superb in what they did. Tackled well when required, read the play well and distributed the ball well without much problems. It is good to see both of them continuing their good form and providing that little bit of consistency in their game. With them being English, looking at them does remind me of Lee Dixon and Nigel Winterburn. They will both do well to live up to those 2 great names.
So, our first loss of the season. Just as our previous games doesn’t indicate that we’ll win the title, one loss doesn’t make us a poor team. The defensive solidity that was there for the games prior to yesterday was non existent. If they managed to show it before, there’s no reason they cannot find it again and consistently parade it. This is the big test that will finally tell us what this team is capable of. How will they respond to the disappointments.
Will we sink or will we swim.