Gunners Ill-discipline Rears Its Ugly Head
Heading into this game the mood at Arsenal was buoyant. A team in form, going for the title. It was their year. Arsene Wenger spoke before the game about how his team had learned to keep their discipline after the last Diego Costa incident.
How very wrong he was. None other than his captain, Per Mertesacker, made a complete mockery of those comments when he dived in rashly to bring down Diego Costa and receive an inevitable red card. His decision to look at the linesman and not the ball was bizarre, and ultimately meant he could not make the tackle cleanly. It was then his absence and the reshuffle at the back that allowed Costa to nip in for the opener.
That ill-discipline instantly changed the mood around the stadium and saw the away side grow massively in confidence. It sparked the impressive Costa in to life and suddenly Arsenal looked nervous. Laurent Koscielny should have given a penalty away and seen red in the second period, but got away with it. Just when everyone thought that the north Londoners had finally developed the character to be champions, they leave everyone wondering.
Diego Costa Is Back To His Annoying, Brilliant Best
Until he was forced off by injury, not only was Costa a constant annoyance in an attacking sense, making runs in behind the Arsenal defence and ultimately score the opener, but he was also winding people up and keeping his own head. Yes, you read that right.
He has looked a real threat since Mourinho’s departure and he continued that here. His goal owed a lot to Branislav Ivanovic’s excellent cross but his position and movement was excellent, it was the Costa of last season.
The devil in him was still there to be seen. Mertesacker’s tackle that earned him a red card was stupid, but the contact looked minimal on reflection and the Spaniard wasted no time in going down. He riled the crowd, scored a goal and gave the defenders nightmares. He’s back.
Skipper Saga Shows Gunners Obsession With Image
Theo Walcott celebrated 10 years at Arsenal this week and as such he was given the honour of leading the team out. Ok, it’s a little bit cringe and a little bit Arsenal but it’s sort of understandable. However, on the pitch usual skipper Per Mertesacker then handed the former Southampton man the armband.
It seemed an odd action. Why would you change your captain for a game that could see you return to the top of the league. And against a team that you’ve struggled to beat for the last four years?
The decision all seemed to hark to the opinion that the Gunners are obsessed with image. It just all seemed a little odd. The sort of thing that would have Roy Keane foaming at the mouth.
Cesc Is Still At Home At The Emirates
The Spanish playmaker hasn’t had the best of seasons but he was brilliant in something of a free role here. His link up with Costa was the catalyst for the title win last term and once again they looked in sync here.
Fabregas had 12 more touches than any other player in the first half and dictated play with ease throughout. He strolled around the middle of the park with the endearing arrogance that made the Gunners supporters love him so much.
Yes, it was made easier by the fact that the opposition had 10 men but the quality of his passing was a joy to watch and with Matic and Mikel in behind him, the former Barca man has been freed and given license to dictate by Hiddink. He looks to be enjoying it.
Ozil's Lack Of Influence Highlights Sanchez Importance
Mesut Ozil has been excellent this season. However, he reverted back to the Ozil of old in this clash. He is not the sort of player you ant on the pitch when you are down to 10 men. It is not that he is lazy, but he is a player who finds space and needs runners.
With the Gunners a man down runners were at a minimum and that the German with a difficult task. He couldn’t influence this game as he has so many this season. In fact Arsenal didn’t have a single shot on target for around 80 minutes. A damnining stat, even with 10 men.
He improved with the initial introduction of Alexis Sanchez but Chelsea weathered that storm and Ozil was again deemed ineffective. When their number 11 doesn’t tick the Gunners look ropey. It just goes to amplify the importance of getting Sanchez up to match fitness. The Chliean made such a difference here.