Arsenal lost yet again, the 3rd time this season and the very first time in the English Premier League, painfully enough to bitter and fierce London rivals, Chelsea. The balanced game in terms of ball possession turned out in favour of the Jose Mourinho led side with Eden Hazard’s 27th minute penalty and Diego Costa’s second half goal ensuring the Blues’ 2-0 victory against the Gunners. It was a very significant match for the North London Arsenal supporters most of whom eager to see former Captain Cesc Fabregas humiliated especially with an Arsenal win, but as it happened, the Billionaire-owned Chelsea continued their dominance over the Gunners with a win with Fabregas making an assist for the Diego Costa goal. Here are 5 lessons learnt from the loss from an Arsenal point of view.
- It came down to physicality: The battle against any Jose Mourinho side would always be poised for more than good football laden with talents and skills but also wrestles, heavy tackles, infringements and cards. It was very surprising not to have seen a red card in this derby as yellow cards flew from all angles. However, Chelsea obviously became the better side due to superior physical and mechanical play. With Nemanja Matic, Andrea Schurlle, Cesc Fabregas, Oscar and Eden Hazard in the middle, Arsenal’s lack of dominant figure with the build and frame of the Chelsea players became very obvious. While Matic, Schurlle, Fabregas and Oscar bossed and won most body checks, tackles and interceptions, Eden Hazard was left to torment Arsenal with his dribbles and runs, which caused Arsenal some trouble, especially the first goal.
- The Arsenal’s defensive indiscipline: It is very obvious that Chelsea under Mourinho at any time would not only play to the strengths of their most talented players upfront but is embellished with an overall defensive orientation. While primarily, players like Schurlle, Oscar and Fabregas are expected to initiate attack and offensive play, defensive responsibilities are very important to their first team chances. It was rumoured that the Portuguese manager had to sell Juan Mata to Manchester United because of his reluctance to join in defending, despite being the best Chelsea player two seasons ago. Arsenal on the other hand has the all or nothing attacking orientation which commits only the back four and the defensive midfielder with such defensive responsibilities. While the Arsenal back four and Mathieu Flamini gave a lot defensively, players like Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, didn’t do enough to help at the back.
- Welbeck forced to do more than being the point man: Danny Welbeck’s hatrick against Galatasaray came as a result of very good deliveries by the Arsenal midfielders and one defensive error by the Turkish club’s defenders. However, in this match, the frustration of not getting due service from the Arsenal midfield forced the 23-year-old to drop too deep thereby limiting his chances of scoring goals. A number of occasions he was found in the midfield trying to build up play and sometimes at the back trying to regain a lost possession. As the point man upfront, the efficiency of the engine room(midfield) matters a lot to the English man’s performance but it just so happens that the runs behind defenders expecting through balls from Ozil and the likes, were properly calculated and checked by not only the Chelsea defenders but majority of the Blues players on the pitch.
- Chamberlain inclusion too late : The runs and contribution of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain when brought in for Santi Cazorla makes one strengthens the belief that something positive may have happened had he been brought in long before then. The English man troubled the Chelsea defence and would have been more useful in the game if he had been brought on as the second half began. The young English forward was a threat but his inclusion was truly a little too late.
- Fabregas made a strong statement: Much to the distaste of many Arsenal fans, former Captain Cesc Fabregas had a very important contribution to the 78th minute Diego Costa goal, in the way of an assist. Revelations that the capture of Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid in the summer of 2013 was the reason Wenger didn’t take the opportunity of the Spaniard’s return to the Emirates, have made a comparison of the two players a subject of argument and discussions among fans. Cesc Fabregas scored a point more than Mesut Ozil in that regard in this derby by providing the all important assist that clinched the 3 points for the Chelsea team. The issue of who truly is the king of assist between the two players may drag on till the end of this season but for now, Cesc Fabregas, with close to 10 assists from 7 games, has made a strong statement to the envy and anger of the average Arsenal supporter.