Did you ever wonder what it was like to support a side playing against George Graham’s Arsenal at their height? Well, after the visit of Chelsea I am sure you have a very good idea indeed. I haven’t seen the stats, but I suspect they would tell you that Arsenal shaded possession and territory. Not for the first time they wouldn’t tell the story of the game.
Chelsea defended in numbers, pretty sure that we could not hurt them if they did not have any gaps for us to work our intricate patterns in. They cleared their lines without fuss, and generally in the direction of mobile strikers who used the width of the pitch to stretch our own defence. I’m sure Graham would have had a wry smile on his lips.
Chelsea are not big on pretty football, but they used to say that about us. They have a system, a belief in what they are doing, and impose themselves both physically and mentally. On another day our fleetness of foot and speed of thought could have done for them, but this was not another day, sadly.
I don’t need to go over the goals again. You will all have seen them, and probably more often than me. I witnessed them once, in the flesh, and that was enough. Big games hinge on big moments and they took full advantage of theirs.
In the last twenty minutes they gave us a masterclass in killing time, and the game, in clinical fashion. I hope that Song was removed from the fray as a result of a minor injury, and not as a result of a tactical decision. We missed him badly after the break.
Our chances depended on a sureness of touch that unfortunately Eduardo currently lacks. In each half a key opportunity was presented to him to set up a one-on-one, but rusty control did for him. That, as much as a lack of physical presence, made us second best on the day.
However, we cannot buy another striker until January, and even if Bendtner returns by then we cannot rely on him staying fit and on form for the remainder of the season. The cheque book will be the object of a major search at Highbury House between now and January.
That leaves us a nervy December on the back of our worst two league performances of the season. That constitutes the potential beginning of a bad patch. Nothing more, nothing less. Who will come into the attack and either score or create the chances to take us past the challenges of Stoke, Liverpool, Burnley, Hull, Villa, and Portsmouth. Our league season will be determined in these next four weeks.
Those are the first six of twenty-five games that remain. Plenty of time to recover lost ground. Have we the character, and the type of forwards, who can effect that recovery? That is the conundrum that will vex most Arsenal fans today.
46 Responses to “December Holds The Key For Shell-Shocked Gunners”