Welcome to my Arsenal blog for the 2015/16 season; here you can check out my thoughts on the current goings on at the club.
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Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Arsenal held in bore draw with Chelsea

Arsenal and Chelsea played out a goalless draw on Monday evening as both sides looked to affirm their positions at the top of the table. It was a game of very few chances and it could have gone either way. Some brilliant chances were missed whilst there were some poor refereeing decisions that went against the Gunners. Not for the first time this season it was a game of ifs and buts. It had been nine days since our last game and there were changes as expected from the defeat to Man City. Kieran Gibbs came back in for Nacho Monreal whilst Arteta regained his place in midfield in place of Flamini. Due to the suspension to Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky started out on the left. It was also refreshing to have Lukas Podolski back and fit as he was on the bench. The other change saw Thomas Vermaelen replace the injured Koscielny.
Giroud had two brilliant chances to win the game for Arsenal
There's a debate over whether this game was a chance to go top of the table missed or whether it was a good point. Personally, I think it was both. This was a completely winnable game, especially the way Chelsea have been playing recently. Mourinho came to the Emirates looking for a draw and in my opinion we gifted it to him. However for a few seasons we've been asking Wenger to play for a draw when we come up against the big teams. Last night he did that and drawing is certainly better than losing.

For the second game running we can question whether Wenger chose the right mentality. The balance of the team was better than against City but it prompted no changes from the manager, who after a few slip ups in the final minutes of some games was probably worried about making changes that may effect the team in a bad way. However the feeling of winning the game would've been amazing. We needed that extra firepower and directness. Podolski would have been a good shout but perhaps he wasn't fit enough to come on and provide the game with a proper impact. The weather conditions were very poor and that led to a few sloppy passes. There were some poor displays in there though, Aaron Ramsey had a poor game by his standards whilst Giroud had two fantastic chances to win us the game. One which was sliced into the side netting from just 8 yards out on his stronger foot. Another indication that we are desperate for some extra firepower in January.

Thomas Vermaelen came back into the side in place of the injured Laurent Koscielny. He was criticised greatly last season for being nowhere near the top of his game. A consequence of that was the partnership of Mertesacker and Koscielny who have been outstanding this season. Vermaelen last night though looked right back at the top of his game. It was brilliant to know that the skipper still has it in his locker to be a top class defender. He had a 98% pass success rate, 100% tackle success whilst also made 4 interceptions. A formidable display as we kept another clean sheet. Kieran Gibbs was also in form and despite him being a defender he looked our biggest threat getting forward from left back. He's certainly putting in a strong claim to go to the World Cup in the summer. He's a very understated player and perhaps doesn't get the credit he deserves. He had a spell a few seasons back where he was quite injury prone but he looks to be over that now *touches wood* and he is one of the teams most consistent players.

As much as we were good defensively it was one of the poorest displays I've seen from us in an attacking sense for a long time. Rosicky looked lively but other than that we struggled to create hardly anything. The only shots on target came late on and the player that came closest was Sagna who had a header cleared off the line in the dying embers. In our last game against City, the officials made three poor decisions and there were three once again in this one. Walcott could easily have had a penalty when he was brought down by Willian in the first half. Meanwhile Mikel should have been sent off for a horrible tackle that broke Arteta's shin-pad, and thankfully not one of his bones. He didn't get a card but Ramires did when he also put in a dirty tackle on Arteta.

We're now joint top of the league, only behind Liverpool on goal difference and we have West Ham coming up on Boxing Day. Liverpool meanwhile have Man City and then Chelsea so we're still in a very strong position to finish 2013 at the top of the League. West Ham away has the potential to be a tough game but they don't score many, and apart from against Manchester City, we haven't conceded many. Onwards and upwards from now on in.

The teams lineups:

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Ramsey, Walcott, Ozil, Rosicky, Giroud.
Subs: Fabianski, Jenkinson, Monreal, Flamini, Cazorla, Podolski, Bendtner.

Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Azpiliceuta, Mikel, Ramires, Lampard, Willian(77), Hazard(73), Torres(88).
Subs: Schwarzer, Cole, Luiz(88), Mata, Oscar(77), Schurrle(73), Eto'o. 

My man of the match: Thomas Vermaelen.

Referee: Mike Dean
Attendance: 60,039 

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