Arsenal 0-3 Chelsea
You can try to take positives out of yesterday’s mauling at the hands of Chelsea, as Wenger did last night, but from where I was sitting it was painfully obvious that our side was brutally exposed. Title challengers? Things can change in football but after yesterday, we need to be honest and lower our sights accordingly.
As Wenger said himself, “Before we speak about ‘title’, we have to win games and you could see that the damage done at Sunderland was deeper, confidence-wise, than it should have been.” Why is that?
Wenger’s strident defence centres around the fact it was tight until Chelsea’s first goal went in, and that had the referee not disallowed Arshavin’s goal at the beginning of the second half, things might have been different. While both things are technically correct, the fact that we did let two goals in quick succession, right before the end of the first half, tells its own story. And in the second half generally, while we gamely rapped against Chelsea’s defensive door, it was too comfortable for Chelsea. They just swatted us away and rubbed their dominance in with a third goal.
Of course, it’s true to say those first two goals killed us off. It’s far easier to boss a second half from a position of strength like that – especially for a side that just doesn’t let goals in. They have conceded eight goals this season – ten fewer than us.
In the end though, the physical power and control that we so lack, and that Chelsea have in abundance, did make the difference many feared it might. Without Bendtner, van Persie and even Diaby’s height, we struggled to make an impression in the parts of the pitch where it really counts. Neither Eduardo, nor Vela when he came on, made the slightest impression. Arshavin had a couple of chances but dithered.
And at the back, when we switched off defensively, we were punished.
It’s easy to criticise Chelsea for the perception that they are ‘boring’, but yesterday they weren’t boring, they were simply disciplined, powerful and ruthless.
Three attributes we could do with ourselves.
No time for more introspection – we can (and probably will) pull this one apart all week.