Sometimes you can take something useful from defeats or disappointments of any kind. In most cases, you’ll realize what kind of mistakes you made so you can correct them in forthcoming matches.
Same goes for last night’s game against Chelsea. We lost to a very strong team in a competition that doesn’t have a special place on the list of our priorities. The question is: what should we learn from this defeat?
1.Nicklas Bendtner is a below-par substitute for Olivier Giroud.
It might sound unfair to jump on the Dane’s back like he hasn’t had enough troubles at Arsenal as it is, but his performance was awful. He reminded me of the Andre Santos performances last season. He looked lazy, not interested and incompetent during the entire night. The way he acted when he found himself in the best position to score suggests that he doesn’t have any self-confidence left, at least not when he plays for Arsenal. His unreasonable decision to play a back-pass when he had a chance for a clear shot on Schwarzer’s goal was the turning point of the match given that it had happened before Mata scored Chelsea’s second goal.
The main problem is what we have already known for some time – we don’t have a replacement for Olivier Giroud.
2.We don’t have squad depth.
It’s the biggest difference between us and Chelsea. We do have a very strong starting eleven but if we miss a player or two in certain positions, we are in trouble. Now, it’s not that we missed just a player or two – both of our defensive midfielders Flamini and Arteta were out, while Oxlade-Chamberlain, Podolski, Walcott and Gnabry’s injuries left Wenger with very few options for attack. The right side of the team had two players that underperformed – both Jenkinson and Miyaichi failed to make an impact yesterday.
3.We don’t have enough ball-winning midfielders in the team.
It is something that I’ve already written about before but I have to repeat it: without Flamini our midfield doesn’t have enough bite. We have played against two strong teams that have super-talented attacking midfielders, we were without Flamini on both occasions and we conceded goals from the attacking midfield-position from Mkhitaryan and Mata respectively.
Hayden might be a long-term solution but we have all expected that one day Frimpong would step up and prove his talent. Unfortunately, it’s unknown whether Frimpong sees either Arsenal FC or Twitter FC as his main priority and his football development continues to suffer from that dilemma.
4.English youth coaches should pay for lessons from their Spanish colleagues.
It’s a bit about Jenkinson again and time will tell whether Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain and others will avoid the trap. I like how Jenkinson has improved by leaps and bounds since joining Arsenal in 2011 but two years later there are some things that worry me. I have a feeling that he hasn’t learned how to cross the ball properly and his positional awareness was appauling last night. Compare him to Azpilicueta’s or, even better, Monreal’s technical and tactical abilities. Wilshere is still young and working with Wenger might make him one of the best players in the world but perhaps the best example he can learn from is his team-mate Santi Cazorla and opponent Juan Mata. The two Spanish midfielders showed last night what makes a real creative midfielder – it’s the ability to choose and use the right trick at the right time. The only difference between Mata and Cazorla last night was the fact the former had had a striker to work with while Cazorla – as the rest of our creative department – was stuck with Bendtner.
Same thing I said about the English outfield goes for goalkeepers’ coaches who might take a peek at the notes of their Spanish, Italian and German coaches. Can you imagine Joe Hart playing a sweeper in a way Victor Valdes has played for Barcelona? I don’t think so.
5.Wenger has a Jose Mourinho-shaped monkey on his back.
Arsene Wenger hasn’t won a single match over Jose Mourinho and that is bad news for football as well – a defensive-minded manager with a killer-instinct and willingness to spend millions on reinforcements wins over an attacking-minded manager with a respect for football as an art and willingness to develop young players. What worries me the most about this particular defeat is the fact that at some point we used almost all of our best players (minus Szczesny, Sagna, Flamini and Walcott) while Chelsea had just one player from their best eleven (Gary Cahill, with a note that I’d pick Mata over any other attacking midfielder in Chelsea squad) and still controlled our attacks without problems.
Let’s hope it was just a bad night for us and the same thing won’t happen when we face them in the Premiership. The problem is, both fixtures against Chelsea will be a part of a streak of tough matches and it’s obvious we’ll have to use our best players to beat them.
Theo Walcott might be the key to our problems as he has been the most dangerous Arsenal player against Chelsea since 2010-11.
6.We over-complicated things in the last third.
Bendtner produced the most evident over-complicated move of the night but he wasn’t the only one. Our attacking midfielders should have had more long shots when they had the chance. Lukas Podolski would most certainly do it.
7.Koscielny and Vermaelen can’t play together.
Sure, they weren’t so bad last night, especially Koscielny, but their partnership hasn’t kicked on and it’s something that Wenger should have realized by now. The way Koscielny sent Vermaelen into trouble at the very ending exemplifies their partnership at Arsenal. The Belgian should have been sent off but luckily Dowd decided to keep the cards in his pocket.
8.David Luiz should have been targeted more.
Like I said in the preview, if there is a player in the Chelsea defence that might jump out of the system, it’s David Luiz. He can score a magnificent goal but also make an expensive howler. He was close to doing that yesterday – he needlessly pulled Koscielny’s shirt during our free-kick but the Frenchman didn’t fall down. If he had done, Dowd would have awarded us a penalty. At 0:0. Perhaps Luiz is a crack in the Mouthinho’s wall that Wenger needs in our next encounter.
9.Chelsea are indeed No. 1 favourites to take the title.
They are really strong, they have enormous quality in their squad and their second string could easily fight for a Champions’ League spot.
Conclusion: we should learn our lessons from this defeat and beat Mourinho’s side when we will have our best and indispensable players at our disposal.