Arsenal 1 - 2 Chelsea
On the back of a good point up at the Etihad, Arsenal’s ‘second string’ made short work of Coventry City in the Capital One Cup. Spirits were high and Chelsea at home was looking like it could be another good day for the Gunners. But it wasn’t.
Chelsea began the game focused and determined. Di Matteo had opted for a midfield trio consisting of Oscar, Hazard & Mata, led by Fernando Torres. A formidable force. A high tempo of passing was immediately set by the Blues, and we simply weren’t switched on for the opening few minutes.
Arsenal regained a good slice of the possession as the half went on, but the attacks were being formulated by Chelsea alone. Torres was winning most of his aerial battles against Laurent Koscielny & Thomas Vermaelen, who, in hindsight, both had terrible games.
Chelsea opened the scoring in a frustratingly familiar way. Thomas Vermaelen lunged in on Oscar, giving away a free kick. The ball was played in, and Laurent Koscielny simply couldn’t handle Fernando Torres’ presence, who was able to sidefoot the ball past Vito Mannone, who could do nothing but watch. Our abysmal set piece defending was back.
As Steve Bould pulled his imaginary hair out, Chelsea used the rest of the first half to expose our general weakness in midfield and defence. Diaby went off injured, leaving Ramsey to deputise in his absence. The solidity was gone and Chelsea were driving through us with ease.
Towards the end of the first half, Oxlade-Chamberlain, who came on for the injured Diaby to play on the wing, crossed into Gervinho. John Terry & David Luiz had done a poor job, and Gervinho impressively fired into the roof of the net, making it four goals in four appearances for the Ivorian.[quote_right]”As Steve Bould pulled his imaginary hair out, Chelsea used the rest of the first half to expose our general weakness in midfield and defence.”[/quote_right]
In all honesty, the goal was probably undeserved. We hadn’t looked threatening in the final third, and we certainly didn’t look like scoring. but a goal is a goal, and we took it well.
The second half saw little improvement. Chelsea continued to dominate our weakened midfield, and Torres was having no trouble with our back four. Podolski and Cazorla looked to be finally creating some issues for the Chelsea defence, until disaster struck.
Yet again, Thomas Vermaelen made a rash tackle of Fernando Torres, and Chelsea won a freekick. The ball was shipped in with pace across the goal, and Laurent Koscialny rather needlessly attacked it, and touched it, putting off Vito Mannone, who could have arguably done better. An own goal had put Chelsea ahead once again. and once again, it was a result of combined error from our centre-backs.
Chelsea in familiar fashion, dug their heels and frustrated Arsenal for the rest of the game. They were happy with a one goal advantage, and they knew how to defend.
Giroud & Walcott came on to replace Ramsey & Podolski, which curiously meant that the rather awful Gervinho was going to get a full game.
As the game came to a close, Giroud made yet another fantastic run behind the back four, and was found by Cazorla. He skipped past Cech, taking himself wide, and blasted into the side netting. The stadium groaned in agony. Firstly because it was the last chance to equalise, and secondly, because Giroud had yet again failed to finish his chances.
[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]
Despite conceding two goals, there was nothing the Italian could really do about either of them. Hopefully will have better days.
Another impressive display from Carl today. Stood up to Hazard & Torres well, patrolled the right flank, and got a few good crosses in too.
Not his usual self. Lunged in on two different occasions which led to the Chelsea goals. Didn’t inspire the team in the ways we’ve come to expect.
A rather shocking display for Koscielny. Wenger had chosen him over Mertesacker to perhaps counter Torres’ pace, however he simply wasn’t up for it. Asleep for both goals and lost possession regularly. Mertesacker won’t be worried.
MOTM. Another excellent performance for Gibbs. His tackles were superb and he helped Podolski bombard the box all game.
Didn’t get much time to settle, as he picked up an injury as he shot at goal. Can we really rely on Diaby to stay fit? Subbed.
Given the run around by Hazard, Oscar & Mata, but did well to break up play and get the ball moving up the field.
As our midfield was overrun, Cazorla became shackled by Mikel & Ramires. He wasn’t able to find the space to create any real chances.
Drifted in and out the game, but put in a good defensive shift to help out Gibbs. Made some excellent runs before surprisingly being taken off. Subbed.
If it wasn’t for his well taken goal, the score would be a lot lower. Apart the goal, Every pass that found Gervinho’s feet come to nothing. His first touch is severely lacking, and his ability to see a pass is non-existent. No idea why he started, and no idea why he was allowed to play 90mins.
Yet again provided stability to the team with his reliable passing and good defensive work. Had to fill in for Diaby early on, but did a good job of linking defence to attack. Fast becoming an unsung hero.
Giroud [6/10], Walcott [6/10], The Ox [6.5/10]
[title]A Case Of The Blues[/title]
You could say that we looked like the ‘Old Arsenal’ today. Defensively poor from set pieces, and defenders who clearly lack organisation. But one bad game doesn’t say much about our collective performances this season. Unless we make a habit of it, we can certainly rule this out as just a bad day at the office.
Chelsea were rugged and tactically sound. Di Matteo got his approach correct and Arsenal couldn’t handle it. It’s tough to take, but it was probably a fair result in the end. Now we have to put it behind us, as we host Olympiacos on Wednesday.
Who was your Man Of The Match? Let us know in the comments section below.