Sunday 20 January 2013
Schizophrenic Arsenal the victims of cheating Chelsea
Ultimately we couldn't recover from a terrible, an utterly terrible, start to the game. Chelsea hammered us for the first twenty minutes and we were lucky that we came in only 2 nil down at half time. Defensively we were shambolic, Bacary Sagna was caught badly out of position for both Chelsea goals, admittedly Diaby's loss of possession for the second was also woeful. Generally we were all over the shop, we couldn't keep the ball and we didn't look good without the ball, a lethal combination.
Too many players didn't turn up in the first period of the game, we looked so defensively brittle, there wasn't enough shape when Chelsea attacked, and we frequently left too many men forward, playing right into Chelsea's hands by leaving ourselves very very vulnerable to the counter attack. It was very frustrating that Chelsea's second also came as a result of a clear dive by Ramires, he deliberately hurled his leg at Szczesny rather than going for the ball, a clear piece of cheating. There was also a blatant yellow card foul in the build up to Chelsea's first, Coquelin clattered late by Ramires' studs up challenge.
It is hard to put a finger on just exactly went wrong in the first half, but if I had to point somewhere it would be at our defensive performance. This was personified by the lacklustre positioning of Bacary Sagna, a player who has been our most reliable in recent seasons, but who has not looked his self of late. The overall balance of the team is wrong as well, we have no width on the left, only Kieran Gibbs gets wide, there wasn't enough beef in the middle too, Coquelin did pretty well on the whole, but Diaby looked as one would expect him to look, slightly rusty and off the pace.
The most frustrating thing is that this Chelsea side is eminently beatable, we opened them up on numerous occasions, especially in the second half, and could have easily escaped with a point after the much better second half performance. We seemed to battle more in midfield, we pressed better, we worked harder, and Chelsea did drop off the pace that they set early doors. Walcott's finish was superb from Cazorla's slide rule pass, he looked dangerous all afternoon and with better timing of his runs could easily have had a hat trick. Giroud worked hard, missed a good early chance and so nearly equalised at the death, his header had Cech beaten but was just a couple of inches over.
We have it all to do to even scrape the top four this season and frankly if we don't bring in a couple of players this window then I can't see us doing it. We lack quality on the bench in several areas. We are reasonably well off for defenders, my main concern here is the form of Bacary Sagna. In midfield we lack some power, we could badly do with a strong ball winning type to add some more depth to Arteta's guile, I also think we need some more quality wide midfielders, we have so many central players but so few who can offer us width. As for strikers, if Podolski plays centrally we are not badly off, if he doesn't then we definitely need one more. Finally it is well worth considering just how much Chelsea have spent and how average they are as a team, we gave as good as we got today, despite the fact that our side cost a tiny proportion of their team's cost. All that glitters is not gold.