Arsene Wenger may have said that ‘the score was a very unfair reflection of the game’, but in truth he could not have be more wrong. Chelsea were clinical in taking us apart at The Emirates and fully deserved to run out 3-0 winners.
We may have had much more of the ball but the away side always looked more likely to stick into the back of the net and did so twice before the break – Didier Drogba finishing off a slick move and Thomas Vermaelen scoring an own goal – before Drogba added a third late on with a cleverly disguised free-kick. Chelsea probably should have had a penalty early on when Bacary Sagna pulled down Nicolas Anelka and could have scored more too, most notably when Manuel Almunia produced a spectacular save to deny a shot deflected by Frank Lampard.
While our boys huffed and puffed in and around the box they were unable to create anything of note apart from an Andrey Arshavin goal after half-time that was harshly disallowed for a non-existant foul on Petr Cech by Eduardo.
The final ball was sorely lacking from our performance today and we badly missed the likes of Robin van Persie and Nicklas Bendtner. Despite an admirable effort the forward three of Arshavin, Eduardo and Samir Nasri were simply too small to trouble the Chelsea defence as Cesc Fabregas struggled to find the right sort of passes to hurt the away side. Crosses posed no threat to the likes of John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho and on the one or two occasions when Eduardo was afforded a little bit of space his touch let him down.
I don’t believe this defeat was down to a lack of attitude or incorrect tactics by the manage but a lack of key personnel. We could play this Chelsea team ten times without van Persie or Bendtner spearheading the attack and I don’t think we would beat them once. Their defence is just too strong and physical and unfortunately we did not have the right players available to allow a genuine chance of winning the match.
The midfield of Alex Song, Denilson and Fabregas can hold their heads up after a very decent exhibition of possession football, however questions must be asked of the defence. There is no team in the league would have prevented Chelsea’s first goal but there was an obvious lack of communication for the second as Gallas, Vermaelen and Almunia each expected to be the one to take care of the danger. The trio will need to sit down and discuss what went wrong tonight to prevent any further damage being done as the season moves forward.
Too lose badly was obviously a result but on reflection it is hard to see how this team could have done better. Against the very best teams we need a more physical striker to compliment the smaller, nippier players to allow the 4-3-3 to function properly. This was simply not possible against Chelsea and they exploited it badly.
I’m not one to write off a title challenge and I certainly don’t think we’re out of it yet, but the last two Premier League games have provoked some serious questions about the potential of this team. Can our new system produce goals without van Persie and Bendtner? Why is Eduardo looking so flat? Do we need to look at Marouane Chamakh for answers? How will we cope without Song in January? Why do we keep conceding soft goals in big games?
These are worrying times at The Emirates and with a visit to Manchester City in the Carling Cup midweek they might get worse before they get better.
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