This defeat was a very different beast to Tuesday's Manu loss, we were the better side against Chelsea for long periods, we were winning the midfield battle, we created numerous excellent chances, the common theme was the ease with which the opposition cut through our soft centre. The reason for our defensive frailty is complex, Arsene feels it is more a case of defensive balance than the quality of our defenders:
"I believe we have quality defenders and it's more a case of balancing the team defensively than the quality of our defenders."
I agree to an extent, but there is also an obvious lack of quality defenders at the club. Over the season Almunia has been our one shining light, without him things could have been far worse. Fabianski does not convince me, especially in dealing with aerial balls. In truth none of our centre backs have performed consistently well, I include Gallas, Toure, Silvestre and Djourou when I say this. The close season saw the popular Phil Senderos depart on loan to Milan, how many people now think that Big Phil wouldn't have added some of the ingredients we've so obviously lacked at the back this year. Sagna and Clichy have not quite lived up to their past records and reputations. Strangely Emmanuel Eboue has looked outstanding when playing at right back recently and Kieran Gibbs has done brilliantly for an inexperienced youngster who has been thrown in at the deep end.
Then to Arsene's point, the defensive balance of the team is not right, the blame lies here with our overly attacking midfield and a lack of defending from the front from certain players. We all noted Manu's outstanding discipline in terms of work rate and defending from the front when they destroyed us over two legs in the Champions League, Ferguson would not stand for Adebayor's pathetic work rate, whilst at times the way in which our midfield let the opposition pass them without even a whiff of effort is simply not good enough, for example Walcott just let Cole go for Chelsea's third yesterday.
Adebayor must either work harder or be sold, we cannot carry dead weights, I understand the frustration of supporters with his woeful work ethic but to accuse him of two dives yesterday is rubbish. The first 'dive' involved Bosingwa taking a massive yank at his shirt and then clipping him from behind, while the second involved him jumping out the way of a Cech lunge, maybe the second would have been a soft penalty, however anyone who has ever played the game would realise this was no 'dive' in the cynical sense of the word, even a certain Sky pundit thought he had a case for a penalty for God's sake.
Another reason for our defensive frailty is down to Arsene's bizarre tactical ideas. The decision to play Nasri deep and Fabregas behind a striker is frankly utter gash. Nasri does not appear a natural defensive player and even if he was, he is not physically cut out for that particular role. Cesc is more effective offensively from deep, plus he is quite decent at getting stuck in and breaking up attacks when he needs to, he needs to play deeper. Then to Diaby, he's played a few good games when playing a more disciplined role in central midfield, for example at home against West Ham, but he looks lost out on the left flank. Diaby should either be played in the middle or sold. Song has been a shining light of late, however one good defensive midfielder cannot save a team with so many other defensive failings. I am perplexed as to why no journalist has questioned Arsene on these tactical decisions?
The 4-1 defeat to Chelsea may well turn out to be a cloud with a silver lining as Arsene cannot now hide behind our recent unbeaten run, he has to acknowledge our glaring failings and address them before next season. What we need is obvious, even Arsene admitted that we were 'unstable defensively' yesterday, just looking at the goals conceded this season in the League tells the story: Manu = 23, Liverpool = 26, Chelsea = 22, Arsenal = 36, Fulham = 32, Everton = 36. We've actually scored as many goals as the other top sides despite none of our strikers really hitting a purple patch. We need to rediscover our ability to defend if we are to start winning things again, otherwise our excellent attacking play and flair will continue to go to waste.