I was amazed at the starting eleven, not only had Arsene gone for the ineffective 4-5-1 formation but he stuck RVP out on the left wing, where his talent is completely wasted. There was simply no defending this bizarre team selection. If you are going to play 4-5-1, something I don't agree with, then you must have pace on the flanks, you simply must start with Arshavin on the left, especially given his obligatory rest for the Champions League games. Also you need more central support for your striker than we gave to Adebayor yesterday. Personally I would have played 4-4-2, stuck Song in the middle with Cesc, Arshavin and Walcott on the flanks, Ade and RVP up top, why not have a go? I do not buy the argument that you have to play 4-5-1 if the other side have three in the centre of midfield, it's rubbish and arguably cowardly, especially if it's not your normal routine and if you don't play the right players for the system.
As a result I don't think we ever got going, we did take the lead despite Chelsea looking the more dangerous side, a good bit of work from Ade down the left and he played Gibbs through who crossed nicely to find Walcott who did the rest with his left foot, Cech looked dodgy all day and could have done better, the frustrating thing was that we never put him under enough pressure, if we had he looked like he would have buckled. Walcott was outstanding, a constant threat, while Gibbs did very well at left back again. The 4-5-1 was not working though, RVP looked so lost on the left wing, he does not have the pace to play out wide, Ade was horrendously isolated. The midfield trio consequently had only the outlet of Walcott to look for as RVP didn't find space as a winger would, and Ade was so isolated with two or three men around him most of the time. I think the midfield looked poor overall but this seemed to me to be as a result of the system.
Our only hope would have been to hold onto this one goal lead as we did not really threaten the Chelsea goal enough for the remainder of the ninety, this didn't look like happening with a virtual reserve defence and against Didier Drogba, a striker that despite being a cheating whining brat is a very good player. Malouda equalised with a well struck shot but Fabianski shouldn't really have been beaten at his near post in such fashion, as the first half wore on we really struggled on, we kept gifting possession to Chelsea and inviting pressure, we just didn't have the attacking outlets to hold possession higher up the pitch.
We had one good moment early in the first half when a great move resulted in a pacey right wing cross that almost left RVP with a tap in, other than that we did nothing dangerous until the final few minutes. Amazingly Arsene persisted with the 4-5-1 and did not at any point have two strikers up front. The defending was poor for the Drogba winner, Silvestre who played well given his limited pace was outpaced easily by Drogba chasing onto a long ball flick on, Fabianski committed himself rather too easily and Drogba scored. When we won a couple of corners near the end we saw how poor a goalkeeper Cech is, he was flapping and looked terribly unconvincing, it was too little to late though.
Having read Arsene's comments this morning I can come up with no other explanation than that Arsene completely bottled it yesterday. He noticed we didn't have our normal fluency, this was plain to see and was clearly as a result of playing RVP on the wing and leaving Ade so badly isolated up front. His argument for resting Song doesn't cut it for me, he has been our best player in recent weeks and had to play yesterday. Arsene's explanation for the 4-5-1 formation doesn't cut it for me either:
"We played with three strikers – Theo, Robin and Adebayor – and I couldn’t play with four when they had three in midfield."
Theo was playing in the midfield and as a midfielder, RVP played out wide, we played with only one man up front. We should have played 4-4-2 and if we have to play 4-5-1 then you must play Arshavin on the left. The most frustrating thing about yesterday was that Chelsea were distinctly average and were there for the taking if we had chosen to grab the bull by the horns and sock it to them in true attacking Gooner fashion. Despite our ineffectiveness Chelsea looked slow and cumbersome in attack, they had no width, and they moved the ball very slowly when on the counter attack. It is sad and depressing to say but we never had a go at them, we played a defensive formation with players played out of their favoured positions. The blame for this performance and the manner of the defeat lies at Arsene's door. I just hope and pray that this is the last we see of this useless 4-5-1 formation, attack is the best form of defence Arsene. There's no shame in defeat when you at least unloaded a few rounds into the opposition's midriff, but defeat without removing one's gun from its holster is wholly unacceptable.