Arsenal fluff their lines again

Arsenal 0-1 Chelsea

A weary sense of familiarity abounded after another crack at breaking Chelsea’s strange grip on Arsenal failed, practically before it had begun.

If Chelsea were meant to be the team lacking any confidence, then you wouldn’t have known it from the way the game started. Instead, it was Arsenal that began timidly, standing off their opponents and giving them plenty of time in midfield to start believing it could be their day.

Even before Mertesacker’s foolish tackle gave Costa all the encouragement he needed to swing the game in Chelsea’s favour, the warning signs were there. We weren’t at the races, and then we handed the match to them on a platter.

It was classic Costa: going down in a pirouette of agony despite barely – if at all – being touched, just to make sure the ref would get the message. He could probably have stayed on his feet and headed towards goal. That said, what was Mertesacker thinking? That kind of tackle had red card written all over it, touch or no touch. We all said it as soon as he’d done it, and off trotted Per without a backwards glance. It was a brainless tackle from someone normally so calm. So the gameplan, which was already bearing no fruit, went up in smoke.

Off went Giroud, a decision that in hindsight went wrong too. Wenger wanted to retain the capacity to hurt Chelsea on the break, but Cap’n Walcott barely scratched the surface of the match (though the linesman’s arm will have known it was in a game) and Campbell struggled to make any impact.

That Chelsea then scored seemed somewhat inevitable, and that it was Costa, strutting in front of the North Bank like a peacock, even more so.

So a terrible first half, really. We all wanted Arsenal to lay down a marker, but they once again played within themselves when it mattered, with a place at the top at stake, and against a team that brings out the worst in us.

Of course things got better – half-time rockets up half-time arses tend to have an effect – and in the second half we saw Monreal and Bellerin getting behind the defence a bit. Alexis came on and the place lifted, and there was the odd goalmouth scramble for our efforts. But in the end, Chelsea held on relatively easily against our ten men. One shot on target tells you as much. You can’t fault the spirit but the damage was done.

Wenger, as you’d expect, tried to accentuate the positive:

Despite the disappointing result, we should have even more belief in ourselves after the game, when I see how it went.

I hope he’s right but that could be wishful thinking, because at the end of the day we lost a game we really needed to win to give us the confidence to push on. We just weren’t good enough, dangerous enough or canny enough, and that’s a big worry.

Where does this leave us? Well, I was reticent to talk us up too much when our form was good, after we’d beaten Man City and played our way out of the Champions League group stages, because we’ve been here before and winning titles, as we all know, is bloody hard. Plus, while this is a good Arsenal side, it is not yet a great one.

Our form over the last few weeks has simply backed my caution up. Draws at Liverpool and Stoke are good results, most years. Losing at home to Chelsea is an awful one, but not fall-off-the-stool surprising. But taken as a whole that makes it two points from nine, and that’s hardly championship form.

We need to find form and we need to find it now. What else is there to say?

6 thoughts on “Arsenal fluff their lines again

  1. Arsenal start the game nervously ? Check
    Arsenal fail to lay down a marker in a big game ? Check
    Arsenal fans up in arms – wrongly – again over a refereeing decision to avoid talking about real issues? Check
    We’ve been here so, so many times….it goes on & on……

    Alexis is back. That is the only positive. There’s nothing else.

    Anyone on the Board got Pep’s phone number ??

  2. I had a nice pie & roast potatoes before the game. Only highlight of the day.

  3. I have had it with this Wenger Groundhog Day,if it isnt because of tired players returning from World Cup(most ridicilous excuse yet) it is because teams refuses to play against us to the stars are not aligned for us,he never addresses the real issue that 50 perccent of his squad shouldnt be playing for Arsenal at all and that he have some serious mental issuses with some of the players, they choke miserably when pressure is on. His steady fast refusal to spend money when Arsenal are loaded with it and on the cusp of another bumper tv-deal are so infuriating it beggars belief ,we are financially as sound as Bayern Munich but refuses to invest in the squad and this is not borrowed money,IT IS OUR OWN EARNED FROM FANS,SPONSORS AND FAT TV DEALS.

  4. Not sure why I put myself through this again by reading the Chelsea report but the Southampton draw left me just as frustrated! No surprise the comments follow a similar theme here, it was almost expected, as is our current run of form. No goal in 3 games?? Let just hope it is exactly that, a blip and we can turn it around again Bournemouth at the weekend.

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