Where do you start with that game?
Gervinho, the enigma, shows why he frustrates and pleases in equal measure. His goal was absolutely fantastic, and really was a top class finish. But again, as we’ve seen many times before, he was unable to go the basic things like stay onside or find a teammate with a pass.
Theo Walcott came on and did nothing, he wasn’t interested and it’s clear his future isn’t at Arsenal. He may have scored twice in the Capital One Cup against a League One side, but today he didn’t care. Arshavin would have been a better option if he was even selected in today’s match squad.
And Olivier Giroud, just as he did against Sunderland in our opening home game of the season, had a guilt-edged chance at the death to score a vital goal. He did well to get around Cech but just didn’t have the composure to finish off an impressive move. I like Giroud and I think he offers something different, and holds the ball up well. He just needs to get some confidence and start banging in the goals.
There was no doubt that on the balance of play, Arsenal were the superior side, making the defeat even more frustrating. Chelsea may have started with Oscar, Hazard, Mata and Torres, but they never looked like scoring from open play. Which funnily enough, didn’t matter as they scored two goals from set-pieces, with a massive helping hand from Arsenal.
The games opening goal came from a freekick and not even Torres could miss from 3 yards out. Koscielny was marking the Spaniard but Arsenal let the ball drop to knee height and Torres had a tap in.
The second goal, was a simple Mata freekick and his cross went past everyone and into the far corner.
The defending was atrocious which is particularly annoying as our defence is something that has been praised recently. Looking at our performances this season, our defending in open play has been excellent, really top drawer. Our positioning and defensive movement as a unit is much better than in previous seasons and we were known to concede stupid goals from open play. Unfortunately, our defending from set-pieces has gone to pot.
Against Manchester City, our defending was poor for their goal which was from a corner, and today we were undone by two freekicks.
And that is something we need to improve on if we want to progress in that area and pick up more points.
The talk before the game was about who would start in defence and upfront, and starting Vermaelen and Koscielny today made sense. But unfortunately Koscielny and Vermaelen were both culpable for the goals, Koscielny on the set-pieces and Vermaelen who gave away a needless freekick for the second goal.
A team like Chelsea will always play negatively and deep against Arsenal and will always look to score from a set-piece or on the break. As I’ve already said, in open play our defensive game has improved greatly, it’s just on set-pieces we struggle badly.
Our play today was okay but Chelsea know how to kill a game and once they scored their second ten minutes into the second half, we never really looked like scoring. Cazorla had two decent chances to score but generally seemed unable to make an impact, Podolski was played in a deeper role which never exploited his attacking prowess and Gervinho was erratic as ever. Diaby’s early injury meant Ramsey had to play in central midfield which was a shame as he’s been playing well on the right.
Mikel Arteta was excellent again, and one of the main reasons why our back four have had more protection this season – making the departure of Song pretty insignificant. Jenkinson and Gibbs look good in the fullback positions and Oxlade-Chamberlain tried to influence the game and did well in patches.
But the bottom line was we gifted Chelsea all 3 points.