It was always going to be a big ask going to Stamford Bridge and after the humiliation of last season, Arsenal vastly improved on last years performance and deserved at least a point from this afternoon’s match.
Arsenal started with Flamini, Jack and Cazorla in midfield, with Welbeck supported by Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Özil. The more conservative formation worked well, and restricted a robotic Chelsea side to only a few half chances.
It was a close contest, with Arsenal looking much stronger defensively than they have been in recent big games. Then a piece of magic from Eden Hazard broke the deadlock.
Chelsea’s number ten waltzed past Flamini and Cazorla, and with Koscielny the last man making the decisive challenge and give the hosts a penalty. Koscielny received a yellow card when he could have perhaps picked up a red. Losing a man and a goal from the penalty would have meant the game was effectively over as a contest so we were fortunate we could still play the rest of the game with eleven men.
But after that though, Arsenal’s “luck” ran out.
Oscar made foul after foul and didn’t pick up a booking until four minutes until the end, and Gary Cahill almost took Alexis Sachez’s leg off with a reckless challenge and should have been a red card.
Then the biggest decision in the game proved decisive in the end.
A shot from Jack Wilshere was blocked by Cesc Fabregas in the box, but clearly by his hand. It wasn’t even a close call – Fabregas had his arms high in the air and the ball hit them. I don’t care if it’s intentional, it’s a penalty.
And that would have made it 1-1.
Once Chelsea scored from the penalty, they parked the bus.
Only one team wanted to actually play football and it wasn’t Chelsea. Arsenal were making all of the play, trying to score a goal and were faced with ten blue shirts in their way. Arsenal had some good passages of play, mainly through Jack Wilshere, but it was too much of an ask. Watching the way Chelsea set up shop, I wondered if any team could get through such defensive tactics.
Although hardly surprising given this is a Jose Mourinho side, you wonder if Chelsea fans like watching this kind of football?
Given a transfer budget which eclipses ours by a massive margin, it’s still amazing he still plays so negatively. Have ten men behind the ball and play off the break? You’d have thought a team like Chelsea would have more aspirations than that, but no, they like boring football that gets results.
Arsenal fans can be proud of their team today, as they gave everything. Wilshere, Flamini, Cazorla and Sanchez never gave up, and the back four were solid. The issue Arsenal had was Mesut Özil, who had a very bad day in the office.
At 1-0, with Arsenal needing a goal in the second half, the game was begging for Oxlade-Chamerlain to be introduced with at least half an hour left, and it should have been for the lethargic Özil.
But what does Arsene Wenger do?
He introduces Oxlade-Chamberlain with only 25 minutes left, and takes off Santi Cazorla!
Alongside Jack Wilshere, Santi was our most creative player – and added to that, he actually tracks back and defends, unlike Özil.
I understand Özil is our record signing but Arsene needs to recognise when Özil needs to be taken off. It is ridiculous to think a player can always have a great game and Özil was a million miles away from that. Taking off Cazorla is something which is mind-boggling, and even the player himself was mystified as to why he was hauled off.
Obviously Arsene was hoping that Özil would come up with that piece of magic, or the final pass that would make the difference but ultimately, he was slow, lazy and didn’t contribute a single thing to our performance. You don’t care if a player is in a bad patch and isn’t in form, as long as they give 110%. I’ve always supported players like Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere when a lot of Arsenal fans were slagging them off because they may not have had a good game but they bust their balls off in an Arsenal shirt.
That’s all we want to see when players put on the red and white of Arsenal so to see a player waltz through the game without a care in the world is painful to watch.
On Özil, my thoughts during the game sum him up:
The game in end showed Chelsea for who they are – a functional team that will sacrifice football and the beautiful game for results. A side which is boring to watch, and a team full of massive cunts. Any respect I had for Cesc Fabregas has well and truly disintegrated after his actions on the pitch.
It didn’t take him long to become a “true” Chelsea player.