The way Arsenal kicked off the season with two uninspiring 0-0 draws against Sunderland and Stoke City; they’ve perhaps done well to go six league games before losing. What really hurts though is that the loss came at home to Chelsea, who has now expanded their league lead to seven points over the seventh-place Gunners. The 2-1 loss at the Emirates had manager Arsene Wenger fuming about the team’s defence, but in all fairness, they didn’t really create many chances in attack either.
And not only did they lose the game, but it looks like midfielder Abou Diaby will be out of action for about three weeks due to a muscle strain. Diaby was taken off the pitch after just 17 minutes and was replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Wenger said the Chelsea goals by Fernando Torres in the 20th and Juan Mata in the 53rd minutes were unacceptable and they can only blame themselves for the three points dropped.
If there was a light at the end of the tunnel then it was definitely the continued scoring of Gervinho, who smashed home his fourth goal of the season in the top corner in the 42nd minute to level the score at 1-1 for 11 minutes. Wenger added that the team lacked decisiveness and real authority in defence. The two goals allowed today equal the two goals the team had given up in their previous five games combined. Perhaps, the manager is now regretting leaving Per Mertesacker out of the starting line-up against Chelsea.
Instead, he went with Laurent Koscielny with Thomas Vermaelen alongside him. In fact, Koscielny actually deflected Mata’s shot into the goal behind keeper Vito Mannone. Wenger said it might have been a mistake to leave Mertesacker out of the team since Chelsea scored on two of their three shots, but the game is over now and there’s nothing to do but to prepare for their Champions League match against Greek club Olympiacos on Wednesday.
Olivier Giroud continued to struggle in an Arsenal uniform in the Premier League, at least in the goal scoring department, when he appeared to have Chelsea keeper Petr Cech at his mercy in injury time, but then drilled his shot into the side of the net. Wenger wasn’t too pleased about that either and said the French striker should have buried it as he was in a good position to score.
Overall, it wasn’t a bad game, but the Gunners just didn’t create enough quality chances in front of Cech. Theo Walcott, who the club is hoping to re-sign, came on as a sub in the 67th minute for Aaron Ramsey, and Giroud joined him when he replaced Lukas Podolski. Walcott had scored two goals earlier in the week in the club’s 6-1 win over Coventry in the League Cup. However, one has to wonder if he’s going to be anxious to stay at the club if Wenger refuses to use him as a starter.
Wenger has some creative and talented players in the squad, but if he’s constantly worried about the back four or team defence in general, then he’s really going to have to address the situation as soon as possible. It’s doubtful that he can do this internally, so he’s probably going to have to wait until the January transfer window opens up. However, to be serious title contenders, the Gunners are going to have to stay within striking distance of the league leaders, which means they need to make sure they trail by single digits only.
It could have just been an off day, but Arsenal can’t afford too many of them. It’ll be interesting to see how they rebound against Olympiacos.