|Giroud had two brilliant chances to win the game for Arsenal|
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