Oh no, wouldn’t you know it, we’re shit again! Club in turmoil. Wenger Out. Defence not good enough. Now I’m no expert on the fickleness of fans, so I’m not sure whether it’s just Arsenal fans or football fans in general that tend to have multiple personalities syndrome. It’s one thing to criticise the team, but the general consensus I got from today’s game was that the fans were beginning to get on the back of the Arsenal players again, when just last week everybody was singing our praises. Yes it was a poor performance, and yes we seemed to lack the acquired work ethic and determination to win the game but all is not doom and gloom as some may suggest.
We looked shakey from the start and it took us a while to get into the game and we went 1-0 down to some sloppy defending. Koscielny was too busy organising the defence for a free kick rather than occupying his own man, who was the eventual scorer Fernando Torres. Now Koscielny obviously is at fault for the goal, but I just wonder whether Chamberlain could have given a little more help to Koscielny. Chamberlain seemed very slow to mark Luiz (mismatch or what?), which distracted Koscielny and when the cross came in from Mata, Koscielny just wasn’t prepared to deal with the delivery. Bad defending on his behalf, but if players around him were a bit more switched on, maybe Koscielny would’ve been able to focus a little bit more on his own man rather than everybody else’s.
Right so 1-0 down, not a disaster by any stretch of the imagination, we’re used to this Arsenal team making coming backs from being 1-0 down, take last Sunday for an example. With Chamberlain coming on for the injured Diaby, who had a rather nasty collision with a football, Arsenal started to get a foothold in the game. Chamberlain’s cross into the box was controlled by Gervinho, who swivelled and blasted it into to the roof of the net. Excellent move by us and we’re back in the game, some may question the fact as to why Chamberlain didn’t start the game.
The teams went into the break 1-1, which was probably a fair reflection of the game. Both teams had really failed to impose themselves and Arsenal had the momentum after scoring just before the break. However 7 minutes into the second half, disaster struck. Juan Mata’s free kick evaded everyone, including Mannone and managed to find its way into the back of the net. Another set piece conceded, more fingers pointed at Koscielny. Personally, I find it hard to see what more Koscielny could’ve done, it was an excellent delivery by Juan Mata, which unfortunately for us evaded everybody. These things happen in football I’m afraid. 2-1 down, with 35 minutes left to play, we can do this!
Well so I thought. The next 35 minutes seemed to be a bit lethargic from us and Chelsea defended reasonably well. We managed to carve out a few decent opportunities, Cazorla blazing over from the edge of the box and Podolski’s header also went close, forcing Cech into a great save. Our best chance however came in stoppage time where Giroud rounded the keeper but once again didn’t manage to get his foot around the ball and smashed the ball into the side netting. The final whistle went soon after and you could feel the disappointment around the Emirates stadium. The fans were frustrated and the players knew they could’ve played better.
A draw should probably have been a fair result, Chelsea in my opinion didn’t show enough to deserve the win, however neither did we. On the day Chelsea knew how to defend against us and didn’t allow Cazorla or Podolski any space to manoeuvre in. The disappointing thing on Arsenal’s behalf was the fact that we didn’t play to any of our strengths today. Even when Giroud came on, we hardly put a ball in the box but before he was on the pitch we was knocking it in to nobody. Hardly makes sense to me but what do I know.
I said from the start of this season that at home is where we will struggle this season and so far I’ve been proved right. 3 home games, 1 win, 1 draw and 1 defeat. Teams will come to the Emirates and just park the bus, so far I haven’t seen enough of us as an attacking force as to being able to break teams down, which is why I think we’re more likely to go to Stamford Bridge and beat Chelsea. Away from home we’ve been able to hit on the counter attack with great effect, as we’ve seen against both City and Liverpool. At home we’re going to have to find the key of getting Cazorla involved more in the big games, or risk facing the prospect of Cazorla being marked out of the game, as he was today.
It’s a hiccup in the grand scheme of things, the players would’ve learned a lot about each other as well as themselves after this defeat. It should be a kick back down to earth for the squad, there is still a lot more work to do with this group of players, both defensively and offensively. However the positive’s from today’s game must be that we managed to match Chelsea in every department, we’re not too far away. Chelsea at no stage of the game looked miles better than us and as I said earlier I feel we’d fair better at Stamford Bridge.
Question marks will be raised over Koscielny and Vermaelen’s partnership, some claiming that it doesn’t work. Well I’m inclined to disagree with that notion, because there is no reason what so ever as to why they can’t play together. Today’s goals we conceded were hardly down to breakdown in communications between the pair, and we’d arguably still have conceded today’s goals if Mertesacker played today instead of Vermaelen. Vermaelen and Koscielny partnered each other 13 times in the League last season, we managed to win 7 of those games with just the 2 defeats, conceding 12 goals. 5 of those games were against top 6 opposition, in which 3 of them we won, today being our only defeat against a top 6 opposition with Vermaelen and Koscielny partnering each other. So I really don’t see an argument into why they’re unable to partner each other.
It’s one defeat at the end of the day, a disappointing defeat, but there are still 32 games to go till the end of the season. We got a bit too carried away after our start but hopefully it’s a snap back to reality for the Arsenal squad. We have Olympiakos up next in the Champions League on Wednesday which will be the perfect opportunity to bounce back. We have a good squad, a good blend of players, we just all need to take a step back, forget about winning the title for now and focus on winning games.
Vito Mannone – 6 – Personally never feel comfortable with Mannone in goal, cocked up a save from a Torres shot, luckily it was called offside
Carl Jenkinson – 6 – Up against Hazard today and dealt with things quite well, wasn’t tested all that much to be honest. Provided some great crosses in the box
Laurent Koscielny – 6 – At fault for the first goal, but a tough display from the Frenchman, still signs of rustiness.
Thomas Vermaelen – 7 – Played well, nothing seemed to faze him but still a bit too rash in tackles giving away needless free kicks sometimes.
Keiran Gibbs – 7 – Keiran Gibbs has been consistently fantastic this season and today was no different. A fine display, hardly put a foot wrong.
Aaron Ramsey – 6 – Failed to have the same impact as he did against City. Second half looked low on confidence. Subbed
Santi Cazorla – 6 – The quietest I’ve seen Cazorla, testament to Chelsea’s set up in Midfield. Missed a good opportunity.
Abou Diaby – 6 – Looked bright at the start before familiar sight of coming off injured occurred in the first half. Out between 3 weeks – 3 years apparently.
Mikel Arteta – 6 – Arteta did most things well, Midfield battle was quite even, just unable to free up Cazorla in the right places
Lukas Podolski – 6 – Very quiet today, had a decent header at goal saved by Cech. But very quiet day at the office for the German.
Gervinho – 6 – Took his goal very well, but frustrating at times. Couldn’t spot obvious passes and strolled offside too often.
Alex Ox-Chamberlain – 7 – Set up Gervinho’s goal, gave Cashley a tough time down that right hand side after coming on for Diaby. Probably should’ve started.
Theo Walcott – 6 – Hardly noticed Theo on the pitch when he came on.
Olivier Giroud – 6 – Movement good as usual, missed a glorious opportunity in the last minutes. Worrying.
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