If we’ve got one bogey team in the Premier League, then it’s surely Chelsea. We particularly struggled against them under Jose Mourinho, but we imploded once again this past Sunday against a Guus Hiddink run Chelsea side.
We started off ok, and although we weren’t looking at our best off the ball, on the ball we were creating the odd chance going forward. Joel Campbell had a great chance from a Theo Walcott cross, but his wild swing yielded a poor connection and was never going to trouble Thibaut Courtois.
There wasn’t enough pressure on Chelsea though, and we were allowing them time and space on the ball far too often. They were able to create a few good chances of their own, with Willian and Oscar both seeing shots saved by Petr Cech.
Just before the 20 minute mark however, the game was totally turned on its head, and Arsenal fans were left wondering how we manage to shoot ourselves in the foot against Chelsea every single time.
Diego Costa was obviously involved, because when is he not? The Brazilian born Spaniard was put through on goal after playing on the shoulder of Per Mertesacker, he was always going to beat the German in a foot race, and it looked as though he would be through on goal.
Mertesacker went to ground to make a last ditch tackle (bizarrely attempting to check for an offside flag while he simultaneously slid in on Costa), and totally missed the ball. The contact on Costa was minimal, but he was always going to go down once Mertesacker went to ground. Mark Clattenburg was fairly quick to produce the red card, but the three or four rolls of anguish Costa produced won’t have helped.
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Arsene Wenger opted to take Olivier Giroud off to bring on Gabriel Paulista, much to the fury of the French forward – not to mention the fans. The rest of the game arguably proved it was the wrong decision, as there were a number of chances you would have expected Giroud to finish had they fallen to him, and his height, power, and aerial dominance certainly could have been useful.
It wasn’t long before Chelsea made the one man advantage count, and frustratingly it was Diego Costa that got the goal. We failed to prevent crosses being thrown into the box, and a combination of Nacho Monreal, Mathieu Flamini, and Gabriel Paulista allowed Costa to poke the ball in from a few yards out. 0-1.
We had a good chance to restore parity before half time, with the ball falling to Mathieu Flamini of all people in the box. He attempted an audacious and acrobatic flick with the outside of his right boot, but ended up skying it over the bar. Obviously nobody would be complaining had he put the ball in the back of the net, but what was he doing in the box? He’s a defensive midfielder!
We were much better in the second half, and were causing Chelsea some problems as the game wore on. The introduction of Alexis Sanchez – who is finally back from injury – and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made us more of a threat, but we still weren’t creating clear-cut chances.
We had a bit of bad luck in the second half too, with the ball pinballing around the area on two occasions, but always falling to a Chelsea man or finding a Blue shirt in the way of a shot.
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We were unable to turn the tide, and Chelsea arguably should have extended their lead as we pushed for the equalising goal. Eden Hazard, Loic Remy, and Willian really didn’t have their shooting boots on though, and failed to capitalise on two-on-ones, three-on-ones, and three-on-twos on several occasions.
The loss sees us drop to third in the league behind Manchester City on goal difference, and if we’re not careful then we’re going to see ourselves drifting away from the top of the table.