Arsenal v Chelsea
Barclays Premier League
Kick off: December 23, 2013 8:00 PM BST
So, it was too much ado about nothing. A boring 0:0 draw in a match that included players like Özil, Rosicky, Ramsey, Walcott, Hazard, Willian, Lampard or Torres should have been regarded as punishable back in time when the creators of football rules had written “The Big Book of Football”. It’s never too late though – perhaps it wouldn’t be a bad idea if teams would get no points for a goal-less draw. Or, if there was something like Yugoslavian football had in the late 80’s and in the beginning of the 90’s – there was a penalty-shootout if the game had ended a draw.
Anyway, back to Arsenal. We dropped to second place for the first time after we had taken the lead in 22nd September. We had been on top between Week 5 and Week 16 before we failed to restore the lead tonight.
1.We need to return to winning way ASAP.
Hull City have been the last team to lose against us. Since then, we have played four matches in the Premiership and Champions’ League respectively – we drew in both home matches and lost both on our travels. It seems that our team needs to find self-confidence and a winning mentality again. We don’t have too much time for that survey as we face West Ham at Thursday. Given that Liverpool have to play Manchester City and Chelsea respectively in their two remaining fixtures of the first half of the season, we can restore our lead at the top of the table by beating West Ham and Newcastle on the road.
2.We might try to leave Giroud on the bench for the big matches.
Now, I understand Giroud’s value for our team at both ends of the pitch – his link-up play and defending set-pieces have played important roles in our season. The problem is, Giroud is a striker and he didn’t score a single goal in either of our four big matches we played during the Fortnight of The Living Dead. He missed a lot of chances to score – some of them due to a lack of pace (Everton and Chelsea), some of them due to a lack of composure (Everton, Napoli, Manchester City and Chelsea), one of them due to luck (Everton) and one of them due to poor refereeing (Manchester City). If you add his poor performance against Manchester United at the Old Trafford, you’ll get my point.
Of course, there are other alternatives that Wenger might try. Apart from the obvious ones (Walcott, Podolski or even Bendtner), there is an option with someone as “a false nine” who would cause more trouble against the big teams while Giroud would be an option for Plan B. Liverpool are ahead of us thanks to the superior goal-difference which is a direct consequence of the fact that they have a world-class striker and we don’t.
3.Thomas Vermaelen gave a really good performance…but would that be enough to keep Koscielny out of the starting line-up?
Vermaelen had a rather successful return to our starting line-up – apart from that back-pass, that is – and that should put a smile on our and Wenger’s faces. However, the Belgian will face stiff competition from Laurent Koscielny as soon as the Frenchman returns from injury. It’s good to have Vermaelen in shape though, it would be even better if we get Vermaelen’s goal-scoring abilities back as well!
4.Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Özil need a rest.
The Welshman and the German need a rest in our next match in order to have them back for the more demanding fixture against Newcastle. Whilst Santi Cazorla can replace the German and probably will, Ramsey might have to wait until Wilshere returns to get a day off.
5.Mike Dean is a terrible referee that hates Arsenal.
I’ve already written that all problems England have had in big competitions might have something to do with karma and the injustice English referees have caused in the Premiership. Mike Dean’s latest act was as terrible as one could imagine. He could have sent off Mikel and Ivanović and should have pointed to the spot after Willian had fouled Walcott. It’s not like I didn’t expect that kind of behaviour but Dean should have had some dignity and respect to the game he is expected to serve!