Not the result we wanted, not ideal to let Chelsea take all the points from us at home. Drogba is gone, the big bully isn’t around to strike fear into the Arsenal defence any more. Games against Chelsea over the past year have been on a more level playing field due to the evaporation of the once fear factor we had. Yesterday the performance in itself wasn’t bad from the team, we gave as good as we got but in the grand scheme of things the failings of old reared its ugly head.
The soft goals we conceded yesterday were the exact kind of goals many fans thought were a thing of the past. The recent improved defensive performances were attributed to the influence of Steve Bould on the training ground but yesterday we seemed to take a backwards step with the quality of the defending from those two set play goals.
It was mentioned by the sky TV pundits that the loss of Diaby to injury shortly before the free kick led to some disorganisation when lining up to face the free kick. I find that slightly clutching at straws even if the comments were in our defence. At the end of the day for the first goal we allowed Torres to steal a boot in and score an easy goal. Koscielny really should have been stronger and read the flight of the ball. It looks like he expected the ball to drift out of play but from not attempting to attack the ball it gave the advantage to the attacker. He will no doubt learn from that but at the same time better is expected from him in those situations, he’s not a raw 18 year old he’s a defender who has set a high standard from his efforts last season and should carry on that improvement. I can’t be too harsh on him as he was excellent last week, no defender is immaculate in every game, even the best have their moments.
The first goal was a set back but we worked our way back into the game with a good equalizer from Gervinho. He controlled a drilled cross from Oxlade-Chamberlain swiveled and smashed the ball into the roof of the net to continue his purple patch of goal scoring form.
In this game Gervinho showed his good and bad sides, last week I commented on the fact that despite his missed chances his influence on the front line was positive and he was a constant thorn in the Man city side. I still feel he can play in that role and his goal was another reminder that he can and that maybe he deserves to be given a chance there than Theo Walcott. The other side to him was the one we saw when the changes were made in the second half and he had to shift to the flanks. His passing, his dribbling, everything just didn’t come off as he frustrated in the latter stages; some may argue he frustrated before the changes but I disagree.
The second goal we conceded was another soft goal as the ball went in direct from a Juan Mata free-kick. The ball was played into the box and despite the ball taking the slightest of flicks off Koscielny the ball was heading into the back of the net regardless. Those kinds of the goals are the ones I hate the most, there needs to be communication in the box whether the keeper orders his players to leave it or the defender ensures they clear the ball, neither happens and then everyone ends up looking rather silly. Its harder to accept conceding those goals as you expect those kinds of balls into the box can be worked on in the training ground. Back to the drawing board, basics need to be worked on. Conceding soft goals can be disheartening to the rest of the team and the sooner we iron them out the better.
Some accusing fingers could be pointed at Arsene team selection yesterday, after a man of the match performance against Manchester City last week Per Mertesacker’s reward was a place on the bench yesterday. Should he have been dropped? In the for case he has been in his best form in an arsenal shirt and would have lined up against Chelsea full of confidence. In the against case the Chelsea line up was full of pacy players who could look to exploit the Germans lack of. Arsene clearly went for the defensive pairing more capable of dealing with the pace of hazard, Torres et al. was it a mistake? A hard one to call but when you look at the result and the goals conceded then maybe calling it an error is the easy option.
When asked about dropping the German Arsene Wenger said:
“That is a decision which was based on the opposition we played. You can say it was a wrong one maybe, but I believe is a lowering the quality of the players who played, they are internationals.
If you do not play Koscielny or Vermaelen and cannot win the game, you will ask me the same question.”
A fair point indeed, he was not protective of his teams defending in general as he said:
“They had three shots on target and scored two goals, from soft set-pieces. Defensively we were just not at the level you have to be in a game like that, which is where we were punished today. For the rest, we have shown quality and spirit but we have to show more personality and authority on the goals we conceded.”
A clear indication that he was not happy and that maybe his players faced whatever the Wenger version of the ‘Ferguson hairdryer’ is.
Another worry from yesterday’s game is the growing reputation Olivier Giroud is building for himself. After getting himself off the mark in the midweek game against Coventry it was hoped that his goal scoring confidence would return. And when he was introduced in the second half he did cause some problems for the Chelsea defence but despite his efforts the only thing he will be remembered for is his miss in injury time that would have salvaged a point for the gunners. His good movement in the box again created a chance, as he came up against Petr Cech he worked the ball around the keeper, slightly wide but still enough to hit the target. On this occasion he slid the ball into the side netting and the chance was gone.
I do have sympathy for the striker having the burden of being the replacement for Robin Van Persie as those are big boots to fill but the problem at hand is the striker not hitting his shots on target from his clear cut chances. I’m still 100% behind the striker but 1st impressions are hard to shift with the unforgiving press. The last thing Giroud needs is a tag as an underperforming striker, all we can do as fans is back the player to the hilt until he starts firing on all cylinders.
In general it was a disappointing result against Chelsea, The goals conceded may have raised concerns but we are far from in a crisis situation. We can overcome this result and continue our improvement this season. It’s Olympiakos in the champions league this week and West Ham away in the premiership at the weekend let’s get our season back on track with those games gunners.
Enjoy your day people
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