Arsenal 3 – 1 Chelsea: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

If you didn’t understand Arsene Wenger’s faith in this team, watch this game again and again.

If you didn’t believe the earlier games between the sides were close and the first goal made a big difference, watch this game again.

I don’t want to get too excited over one win. That’s not in my nature. I do however, wish to enjoy a fantastic performance to the fullest. And since I realize this wasn’t Arsenal at their best, my exhilaration is difficult to contain.

To begin with, Arsene deserves a great deal of credit for picking the perfect starting eleven. Nasri, Van Persie, and Walcott were a really potent attacking trio. Song, Wilshere, and Cesc formed a strong midfield. Starting Djourou at the back alongside Sagna, Koscielny, and Clichy was pretty much a masterstroke.

I must also say it was great to see the team play with real belief right from kick-off. There was no hesitation, no hand-brake as Arsene calls it. In contrast, it was easy to see Chelsea were set up to defend. The visitors didn’t really have the confidence of taking the game to Arsenal. Those who think Arsenal have lost the fear factor have to see how a team like Chelsea put 10 or 11 behind the ball right from the moment the ref blew his whistle.

The first forty minutes were tight. Chelsea were playing like Birmingham or Newcastle but with better players. Arsenal were trying to penetrate the blue wall while defending against long balls and counter attacks.

The first opening came for RvP when Song found him with a ball over the top. The Dutchman lacked match sharpness and was probably put off by the attempted challenge by Ivanovic. Van Persie produced an air-kick from eight yards. Moments later Drogba took a shot from outside the box after a quick counter but couldn’t find the target.

After that the teams settled into their respective rhythms and nullified each other. When Arsenal got a corner in the 39th minute I was wondering whether this will be the moment for Arsenal. To be honest, I also had a thought at the back of my mind that this is just the kind of moment when Arsenal could concede from a counter! The corner was headed out but only to Sagna who let fly with his left foot. Drogba got in the way but the strike was powerful enough to knock him down.

Arsenal were able to sustain pressure and a couple of minutes later Nasri had some space on the edge of the box. His attempted chip forced a great save from Cech. It reminded me of the kind of goal Bergkamp used to score from that area.

The breakthrough finally arrived a couple of minutes before half time. Nasri was being double-teamed on the left. The Frenchman took the ball to corner of the box before squaring it back towards Song. The Cameroonian passed it Wilshere and went for the return. For a moment it looked like the youngster had delayed his pass for too long but he was able to dink it back towards Song.

Arsenal had three or four bodies in the area and Fabregas was tripped as he was going through. I would have taken a penalty and a yellow card for Ferreira but Song was alert, calm, and clinical.

This is just the kind of sucker punch Arsenal have conceded against Chelsea in recent games so it was always going to be interesting to see how the second half panned out.

Wenger’s men (emphasis on men!) came out for the second half with the right approach. They started where they’d left off and pressed Chelsea high up the pitch. Unfortunately for the visitors, they didn’t have the comfort of a lead and couldn’t really sit back.

This resulted in a great deal of space behind their defence and Arsenal exploited that expertly. Once again showing how dangerous it can be for teams to push out against Arsenal.

The second goal came after some good work by RvP. The Dutchman lost his footing but was able to hold off the central defenders. Essien was forced to come back and his toe-poke nicked the ball away from the Arsenal striker. Walcott was on the shoulder of Cole and showed greater alertness and desire. The Englishman also showed good composure while squaring the ball to Fabregas who had an empty net in front of him.

Minutes later it was three. Once again the pressure high up the pitch paid off as Walcott caught Malouda on the ball. He passed it to El Capitan and sprinted forward. Cesc expertly lifted the ball over Terry’s attempted interception and Theo showed he is turning into a lethal finisher.

After this, there was a little bit of hesitation in Arsenal’s approach. The player’s didn’t seem certain about the tactical approach. Should they shut up shop or should they continue the attacking game?

Chelsea found a goal soon after as Arsenal conceded a sloppy free kick. Drogba lifted it into the danger area and Arsenal defenders didn’t attack the ball well enough. Fabianski was exposed and he couldn’t quite come for the ball in time. Ivanovic scored with a simple header and Chelsea found some belief. Ideally the defenders should have dealt with the ball better and Fabianski should have stayed on his line.

After conceding the goal Arsenal showed great mental resilience and worked hard as a team. Ancelotti’s side couldn’t really create any clear chances and were limited to shots from distance and hopeful crosses. All the adjectives that have been used to deride and ridicule Arsenal would be applicable to this Chelsea performance. Arsenal did have a couple of opportunities on the counter but Nasri rushed his shot when he had the time while Diaby took too long.

Arsenal’s defending wasn’t perfect and the players did concede some daft free-kicks in dangerous areas. Nonetheless, it was a strong all-round performance and a massive win.

Individual Performances

Fabianski: Didn’t have much to do in terms of making saves but marshalled his box well. Came for the ball when he had to and his distribution was quick and effective on most occasions. Some lazy and ignorant pundits and fans will blame him for the goal but I thought it was a collective problem.

Sagna: Took Malouda out of the game. Very solid defensive shift, lots of energy while running up and down for the duration of the game, put in some decent crosses.

Djourou: excellent physical presence, good interceptions and headers, composed on the ball, is beginning to fulfil his potential.

Koscielny: Read the game really well and his positioning was excellent. Looked composed while bringing the ball forward. Needs to improve his touch/ball control in and around the box, and has to do better with his passing when he moves forward and leaves a space behind. Made some minor mistakes but recovered well.

Clichy: Superb again. Took Kalou out of the game, reduced Chelsea’s threat on the break, made some important interceptions and tackles, went forward quite often and played a useful part in attack.

Overall the back five looked much better as they got good support from the midfield and the wide players. They’re doing a decent job of dealing with crosses and corners but set-pieces from the front seem to be a weakness. Newcastle, Tiny Totts, and now Chelsea have all scored from those angles.

Song: incredible work rate, well taken goal, excellent defensive contribution, good passes in the attacking areas. Gave away some silly fouls in the final quarter of the game.

Wilshere: worked hard, decent defensive contribution, had some good moments and some weak ones.

Cesc: had some amazing touches, a good goal, an excellent assist, but also gave the ball away uncharacteristically and his work rate wasn’t at the level we have seen from him. Still not quite there mentally and that can be a big positive if Arsene can get him back to his best.

The midfield dominated Chelsea for the first half and found a good balance between attack and defence. The desire of the players to track back was commendable.

Walcott: My MotM even though he wasn’t in the game all the time. In the first half his chances were limited as Chelsea denied him space. Destroyed Chelsea in a short spell early in the second half when he did get space. Loved his alertness, desire to win the ball back, composure when on the ball, awareness of players around him, and clinical finishing.

RvP: Not quite close to his best but offered a lot through his movement, ability to hold the ball under pressure, and intelligent passing. Another player who can make a huge impact on the season if he can get back to his best.

Nasri: Was double-teamed for large parts but did well in terms of holding possession, bringing others into play, defensive tracking, and forced three good saves.

The attackers were quick, skilful, and confident. They moved the defence around really well and forced Chelsea deep in the first half. Good defensive contribution by the wide players and RvP dropped deep quite often.

Subs: Diaby did well in defensive areas and it was good to see his loping strides on the pitch. Chamakh worked hard and forced the defenders into knocking it high and long. I was a bit surprised by the changes. I’d have moved Walcott down the middle, taken Cesc and RvP off and brought on Rosicky on the right and Diaby in the middle.


50 Responses to Arsenal 3 – 1 Chelsea: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

  1. LondonGunner says:

    Great performance, I was lucky enough to be at the game.
    Desi, I agree with you analysis however my MOTM has to be Djouro yes Theo was a handful, but he wasted lot of balls.
    The doommongers wrote us off before the kick of, make no mistake AW has built a team that can compet and will with the best. Our subs could have made another team, if everyone keeps fit we have great chance in winning something if we don’t then we are surely on the right path to glory.

  2. MSL says:

    I was praying that Djourou start today over Squillaci and boy am I glad my prayers and the JD turned out well. You guessed the front three right! I wasn’t sure about Theo but he really came into the game after a nervous start. I think we did everything right from start to finish and the goal looked like another case in point for Koscielny to hit the gym. Going to watch the match again to see what exactly we do in the box on set-pieces. We seem to form one straight line in the box with no clear roles.

    We grew from boys to men with this match with Theo showing more belief within this match. I hope Arsenal play like this every time when they don’t have the ball.

    Onwards and Upwards!

    • Metalhead says:

      Yeah, JD was outstanding. The good thing is that this is not a one off performance. He has been consistently good over the last 3 or 4 games I’ve seen him. I always thought a good CB should be tall, strong, agile, good in the air and pacy. JD has all those qualities. I still think Koscielny is very good as well. I think he gets a little nervous at times. Waiting to watch JD and TV together.

    • desigunner says:

      I feel Walcott will always be dangerous if he gets space. In the first half Chelsea closed him down really well but they had to gamble in the second.

      Koscielny has a lot of work to do in terms of getting stronger and learning to use his body to defend. Right now he has good technique and defensive intelligence but in the long run that will not be enough

  3. w12mcee says:

    confirmed- djourou has come of age

  4. stonroy says:

    A masterstroke is a bit too much. The fans on every blog I’ve been on have been begging the boss to start Djourou… About time I say.

    • desigunner says:

      Well, based on what I’ve read since the start of the season Djourou was initially written off as “will never be good enough”, then after having some shaky games on his comeback that theory gained strength. In the last few games that he’s played Djourou has done well and people now want him to start. I’ve no doubt that tune will change again if he makes one or two mistakes. I’d love to know how many have been consistently positive about Djourou since the start of the season.

      • Zgunner says:

        I always rated him a strong defender with great footwork… you’re right many people have written him off the way they wrote off diaby and fabianski… the way they write off denilson (who is a very good player I’m sure in time people will understand how confidence is essential in football).

  5. Filip says:

    Arshavin should never ever start a big game for Arsenal.We might have a chance against Man Utd without him.

    • 7masters says:

      Filip I completely agree with you and even if he is sold it would not be bad for Arsenal. I had many fans complaining about and guess what I saw why against Man United.

      The live camera showed Sami Nasri in pain just before game against United and Team Physio was putting bandage to it and then we saw Arshavin in Line disinterested and looked bored out of his head. I would only play him against Liverpool cause he seem 100 percent against them and maybe it same thing Drogba does against us the team he supported for long time while in France.

      Walcott created problems for Chelsea and he had them pegged back scared to go forward and samething happened agaisnt Barca let hope these goes on for a while, I cannot for life me stand Arshavin.

  6. Furovich says:

    Great win and a great result. Chelsea really made it easy for Arsenal for a lot of the match so it was great to see them capitalize on Chelsea’s errors.

    I think a lot of people that watch Arsenal regularly know of their ability and can see why Wenger has faith in the players but they need to use this win as encouragement to go on and keep winning and improving because they’ve still got a long way to go to win the title. That’s what will matter at the end of the season, winning the title, not beating Chelsea.

    Disappointing to concede from a set piece though, it’s definitely an area I hope Wenger can get the team to improve on. That and being more of a threat themselves from set pieces.

    Great win though and what a nice finish from Walcott in particular!

  7. waleed says:

    I think Diaby and Chamakh were brought in for their aerial ability. It didn’t look like Chelsea were creating anything except from set pieces. So take off little Walcott and put Diaby in there, even if he is out of position. Rosicky would have been a more positive change but we needed some more aerial presence.

    Our pressing was very effective today and it won us the match. This is how we need to defend.
    And finally Djouruo was picked and that was the best tactical decision Wenger made today.

  8. Tim says:

    We pressed well, Song found the right balance between defence and attack, and Djourou was simply massive against Drogba. No question we deserved this win, and it was a joy to see us play with the handbrake off against a bit team for once.

    Now let’s hope we can build on this result – starting on Wednesday.

    http://thearmchairsportsfan.com/2010/12/27/song-sets-the-tone-for-arsenal-in-emphatic-win-over-chelsea/

  9. SoCal_Gun says:

    “If you didn’t believe the earlier games between the sides were close and the first goal made a big difference, watch this game again.”

    +9867643453

    It was super tense till that point, and how they came out to start the 2nd half was perfect. Must have been a good half time talk lol

    It’s funny how people have been calling for JD and TW to start ahead of SS and AA for a few weeks now, and finally when it happens the result is very positive. It should motivate the 2 more senior (older/complacent? lol) players a bit…

    no game is ever easy, but the schedule seems pretty favorable for the next month or so….let’s see what happens….

  10. Aussie jack says:

    My thoughts: First half Chelsea were very physical and guilty of playing the man first and the ball second.To Arsenal`s credit they have matured in this area and handled it very well.
    R.V.P will improve as he gets more game time and his rythm returns but I`m still leaning towards Walcott as second striker down the middle, who along with Nasri impressed me most.
    We still lack fire power and I would happily exchange Chamakh for Andy Caroll; Bendtner I`ve forgotten.

  11. ryan says:

    great performance and result although i’m not sure how you can say diaby was good when he came one!

    besides i think one header out of the box, all he did was slowus down, give the ball away, mess up a clearance badly which could have been dangerous but turned out ok and wasted a fantastic chance to shoot terribly by taking two extra touches and trying bizarrely to put it on his right when it was there to be hit on his left from close range. i don’t think a 3/10 for diaby when he did come on is particularly harsh. and that’s not me being a bandwagon diaby hater, i quite like him, was glad he was coming on and fancied him to score a 4th for us. but the fact is he was absolutely shit for what little time he was on

    besides that i basically agree with everything else you said. jd was class at the back i was very hppy to see him start and he should not be dropped at all on his current form. he has to be the main candidate to partner tv at this rate as not only is he generally a classy defender, but he’s also our most athletic and acrobatic defender whilst also being the biggest!

    song had his best game of the season tonight, he was absolutely immense.i must admit i think having rvp up front with theo and nasri was top drawer from wenger. arshavin has deserved to be dropped for a long time in my book, i don’t care if he has a decent number of assists and a few goals. there’s more to being a good player than a couple of stats and we looked far more menacing with walcott and nasri (whilst walcott didn’t start the first half well) than we’ve looked with arshavin in the team for ages. one of the reasons we defended well was because we pressed high up the pitch for 90 minutes and i don’t think arshavin can be credited with doing this with any regularity at all, as i’m not sur he has the fitness for it.

    very happy for clichy as he’s had a bad season in my book but tonight played really well, very well done to him. sagna is in my opinion one of our top 3 players this season. top top class in virtually every game and today was no exception. he’s so good at what he does and he’s so reliable and consistent i fucking love him

    anyway i think it’s silly how some people think just because we won a game really well that anyone who criticised wenger was an idiot as though this one game somehow undoes all the failures we’ve had in big games before this. that said wenger gets 10/10 for making ALL the right decisions today. the squad selection, the tactics, the substsitutions were clever too, even if diaby turned out a dud this time.

    this reminds me of the wenger of old picking all the right players at the right time rather than insisting on picking his favourite players even when they’re playing very poorly. whatever the reason for the change is, thank you mr wenger it was absolutely a joy to watch

    • Furovich says:

      Yea I agree with you mate. Beating Chelsea is great but the team has got to push on and win the title. It’s been there for the taking all season.

    • Jazbo says:

      Diabys first meaningfull game after 3 moths out with a bad ankle injury and your bitching about his performamnce, get real mate, he came on and did a job for the team, no more no less, thank god for Arsene Wenger.
      Great game by all the men today, my MOM was JD, he had Drogpus in his pocket all game long.

    • desigunner says:

      I thought Diaby did a decent job of defending on the right. Song was conceding a few free-kicks there and Diaby’s presence made it easier for Arsenal to stop Chelsea.

      • Zgunner says:

        Many fans don’t rate a lot of the dirty work in midfield. is often goes unmentioned. i thought diaby had an O.K. return.

  12. JP says:

    So nice to get a win in a big game. It’s like getting a monkey off for sure. Congrats to the team! Arsene got the team selection spot on for real. Nasri and Walcott helped tremendously on defensive side. Hopefully Arsharvin took notes. Djourou is our best CB right now, great performance. Go gunners!

  13. JP says:

    Now if we can only get this set piece thing down we r ready to rock and roll! 🙂

  14. BarDel says:

    All I have to say is… Thank god Arshavin didnt play and… We are the Arsenal, we are the best. We are the Arsenal! So fuck all the rest!!!!!

    Bring on Manchester!!

  15. 7masters says:

    Desi read these Chelsea blog for a minute i thought it was you supporting Chelsea lool here is the link

    http://thechels.net/2010/12/arsenal-what-went-wrong/?

  16. Roy says:

    I didn’t miss Arshavin or Denilson tonight.
    Shame about the consolation goal, but it’s very unlike modern Arsenal to keep a clean sheet!
    I’d like another centre back in january, as Squillaci isn’t up to the premiership.
    Arsenal for the Carling cup and league 🙂

  17. Steve says:

    For me there was one moment that satisfied me more than any other. Late in the 2nd half when Chelsea were attacking to try to get a second goal and put pressure on Arsenal, they attacked down the our left side and suddenly on the TV I see coming out of our final third not Clichy but Samir Nasri to snuff out the attack. Cant remember ever seeing Arsharvin appear from the right side of my TV ever!

  18. kloney says:

    A fantastic nite for a great team! The boys have matured into MEN. JD was solid in defence and Wilshere held his own among the so called big men. Welcome back El-Capitan!

  19. Ajinkya says:

    Quoting Desi,
    ” I don’t want to get too excited over one win.”
    Absolutely right.
    Keep the cool and keep the faith.
    As to the game, Song stood out. He had not found his real self in recent games, and came out firing.
    Overall, you can say,
    _______________ played really well today. Place all names in the blank space.
    Van Persie will resume to his best with time, Diaby back.
    Mr.Wenger changed and reaped benefits immediately.
    Hope we maintain the quality consistently.
    Happy that we have broken the jinx of losing consecutive games.

  20. Sandeep says:

    After a long time something to cheer for against Chelsea, and smile is back on for Arsenal fans 🙂

  21. Raghugovind says:

    Oh RVP we missed you !!! I wanted RVP to get a goal as for me he was good. It showed what we were missing . I feel RVP returning to his best may also in a way help Cesc. I wanted Drogba to score that goal so that the jinx of Chelsea not having lost to Arsenal when Drogba has scored would have finally broken and that would have been a huge confidence booster for the team . Chelsea shoulld count their lucky stars that the match against united got postponed else they would have been 9 points behind the league leaders . Lets just hope we play with equal confidence against Wigan in 2 days time . Arsenal have a knack of squandering away momentum mid week . Its sad we will miss Cesc in the line up bcoz of the suspension but with Diaby coming back and the rest of the team relatively fit I don’t think that will be much of a problem. After a very long time something to cheer about after a big match (not taking into account the match against Man City as it was 10 men against 11 for 80 minutes)!!

    • desigunner says:

      I think Arsenal winning convincingly and Drogba not scoring are good enough for now 😀

      If Drogba had scored I guess many might have taken the focus away from the Arsenal win and talked about Drogba dominating Arsenal even in a defeat!

  22. rohit says:

    im jus satisfied to see arsenal play like they did yesterday…..i really liked the way they went down at slightest touch and winning free kicks(winning yellow cards of course!!)…one such card to a.Hole gave walcott little more breather on his flank….people can rave about walcott being mediocre but a.Hole was good at reading his runs and the yellow card made him hold back a little….on another note…loved the starting 11…we can stop doubting wenger’s tactical acumen…i hate ranting but phew that felt great…cheers

  23. aravindvr says:

    This is what Wenger had always said about.
    This game, Arsenal focused on their game rather than worrying about Chelski.And the result is a superb, memorable victory.
    I think Clichy is still the most unreliable in our squad.His form goes up and down in a match.
    In this game he got the support of Nasri and even without a static Arshavin, Clichy made many silly mistakes and miss passes.But his pace and commitment is unquesionable.Lets hope he gets back to his best.

    Kos need to improve his passing in opponents half.
    May be he can get few lessons from Verminator on this.
    Djourou was massive and nullified the Drogba&Co.

    But I think our victory came in the defensive midfield area where Wilshere,Song and Fabregas where teaming up and neutralised most attacks.
    With defensive support from both Nasri and Walcott(he was gr8 defensively esp in first half), the usual darting runs of one Cashely Cole was almost nil.And to see this fool beaten by Walcotts pace many times made this win more memorable.

    Indeed a masterstroke from Wenger in bringing Walcott instead of Arshavin.I think if Arshavin was playing, Clichy would have had nightmares yest.
    Also the Squill-Kos partnership which was always weak is another problem tackled effectively.
    And a front line up of 3 players(Nasri,vPersie and Walcott) who had played together now for a long time made a big difference.

    Overall a huge victory and a huge boost in morale which should be sustained with futher wins.

    Our first victory against Drogba.Nemesis finally tamed. 🙂

  24. loqman says:

    Walcott must learn to make the movement through one-two, because the average midfielder arsenal all have creativity to make a delivery to give Walcott the best position. Walcott just need to know how to use the pace to score as he made last night

  25. Karthik says:

    I would just like to point out how good Clichy looks when he gets support. He was great against United as well, but was under pressure far too often. Yes, he makes an occasional mistake, but he is a terrific player and he gives us his all. Sagna, m word, is he something or what! More important was the manner of te victory than the victory itself. The fear factor may have remained had this been a close shave, but we were superior, and I strogly believe this could just be the push we need. Go Gunners!

  26. Woo hoo says:

    So glad we won! About time after all the disappointment!!! But winning one game against a ‘big’ team doesnt mean we should start raving on like we are going to win the PL and alks fantastic as we have been here sooo many times of which we end up losing the next game so we need to maintain this performance.

    Winning the PL is about consistently winning games, our performance was good abeit being against a very poor Chelski team and we did get 2 goals handed to us on a plate but what i liked was the pressing & mentality which was very refreshing!

    Not being a pessimist just dont want us all to get over exicited about beating a below par Chelski team, yes we played with more conviction but it took big mistakes from Chelski for us to win emphatically otherwise it could have easily been a draw. Good performance and deservedly winners!!

  27. Kushagra India says:

    A master is a bit over the top yeah but kudos to all for a big win but it will mean nothing if we cant beat wigan so pls continue …COYRRG

  28. […] Arsenal 3 – 1 Chelsea: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis If you didn’t understand Arsene Wenger’s faith in this team, watch this game again and again. […]

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