Beaten by the better side, unfortunately that was the case yesterday. Chelsea were better than us all over the pitch, and yet we still almost got away with a point we wouldn’t have deserved. Were it not for our inability to defend set pieces we could even have taken all three points. It’s difficult to pinpoint one thing in particular that was wrong, as no one covered themselves in glory.
Firstly I can see why Wenger chose to play Koscielny & Vermaelen together, Chelsea are a team full of quick, nippy, little attacking players and Mertesacker is not the fastest defender ever, however I think the German’s performance last week at City, where he was our best player, showed he’s capable of handling any type of player and personally I think it was a mistake dropping him. It’s my opinion that Vermaelen and Koscielny are a bit too similar to play together, and we always look more balanced at the back when it’s Mertesacker playing with one or the other.
Wenger obviously won’t come out and admit it was a mistake to drop Mertesacker but I’d be very surprised if the BFG doesn’t return to the starting line-up for the Champions League game on Wednesday. Both goals came from free kicks we didn’t need to concede, the first Vermaelen conceded when he didn’t really need to make the challenge and the second came about because Arteta gave the ball away and put the defence under pressure. I’m a big fan of Koscielny, and he was our best defender by a long way last season, however on Saturday he had a poor game, and was at fault for both Chelsea goals, for the first he allowed Torres to get to the ball first and hook the volley in, and for the second it was his touch that took it past Mannone, although it may have gone it anyway without the touch.
Mannone as well was pretty poor and is starting to look more like the 3rd choice keeper that he is rather than a possible number one. There aren’t many teams that keep possession better than we do but at times yesterday Chelsea made us look like schoolboys chasing around after the ball as the knocked it around between themselves.
In midfield we were particularly disappointing, Aaron Ramsey was very poor giving the ball away on numerous occasions, I’ve seen it said that Diaby going off injured was the big turning point but we were being outplayed even while he was on the pitch, he was replaced by Chamberlain who had probably one of his worst games in an Arsenal shirt, giving the ball away far too often and failing to track players defensively, obviously he’s still young and these are the sort of games he needs to experience in order to improve his game. Cazorla sturggled as well, clearly he’s a player who thrives on having the ball at his feet, and quite simply we didn’t have the ball enough, so we couldn’t get him on the ball to weave his magic.
Gervinho again was a bit of a target for the boo boys. The Ivorian had a lot of the ball in dangerous looking positions but struggled to find the final ball when it mattered, decision making I think is his main weakness and you can see at times he doesn’t know what he’s going to do until he’s done it. He did however get our goal, a great finishing, controlling the ball, swivelling and drilling it into the back of the net. He is sometimes a bit frustrating to watch but he has shown in recent weeks that he is improving and will hopefully keep getting better if people stop getting on his back as soon as he does something wrong.
I think if Tom Daley had spent a few days training with Chelsea he would certainly have learnt a few things about diving and may have improved on his 4th place at the Olympics. At every opportunity Chelsea’s players threw themselves to the floor looking for a foul, and when they didn’t get the decision they bitched and moaned about it. Fernando Torres in particular did nothing but whine at times, every time a decision didn’t go his way he was moaning and throwing his arms around and generally having a strop like a 5 year old, disappointing from a player who was once world class.
In the end we could quite easily have got something out of the game, Petr Cech made two excellent saves towards the end, Podolski’s header was goal bound but Cech stretched out a hand to claw the ball away, and then a Giroud shot deflected off a defender and again Cech managed to get enough on it to turn it past the post. Had we got a draw it would have flattered us, we certainly didn’t deserve it. Everyone is entitled to have an off day though, unfortunately we had too many players having a bad game at the same time. But this is just one result and there’s still planety of time to bounce back and with the games coming thick and fast we have the opportunity to get over this on Wednesday against Olympiacos in the Champions League.