By Walter Broeckx
The 6th game was the game it happened. It could have been the name of a thriller. And in a way it was a thriller. But one with a bad ending. Not that there were a lot of chances with both defences mostly on top during the game. But in the 6th league game we lost our first game.
With all 3 centre backs fit it was interesting to see who would start. Koscielny got the starting place and Per Mertesacker was on the bench. Last season Koscielny was our best centre back so nobody really could complain about this. It also was thought that against the quick dribblers from Chelsea Koscielny would be the better choice. Koscielny who last season had made a few top strikers look like débutantes would surely be up for the task was the general consensus before the start.
Sometimes things that you think are reasonable and very wise can suddenly be turned on his heads by events on the field.
The first bad thing happening was Diaby going off after only 15 minutes. It lead to a few changes on the field and before we would we really set ourselves we found ourselves 0-1 down. A Mata free kick was poked in by Torres at the far post after a tussle with Koscielny. Suddenly you could hear a few thousands goners think: would Per had dealt with this better? And would the height of Diaby could have prevented the ball going that far?
Because the calmness we have seen in the first games of the season was out of the window in the centre of the defence. I know a lot of people have been very critical (over critical) about Mertesacker. I rather like having him in defence and was it a coincidence him not on the field resulting in not enough rest in defence? Of course we will never know. But maybe with the experience from Mertesacker he would have had more an eye for the ball as now Koscielny seemed more interested in tussling with Torres.
Chelsea then could revert to their favourite tactics and kept lots of people behind the ball. Arsenal missing the big (height wise) guns in the team tried to play over the ground and this resulted in a well taken goal from Gervinho. A low cross from Oxlade-Chamberlain, a control and turn from Gervinho and an excellent finish from the Ivory Coast striker. 1-1 at half time and this was a fair result between two teams that kept each other in balance for most of the time.
The second half started disastrous for Arsenal. A foul on Torres resulted in a free kick in the same area as where they scored from in the first half. And again Mata whipped in the ball and a slight deflection on the shin of Koscielny made sure the ball ended up in the net.
More than half an hour for the Gunners to score an equaliser. And they came close a few times. A header from Podolski brought up a great save from Cech. A shot from Giroud that got a deflection was somehow saved by Cech.
After a foul on Arteta we headed against the post and for some strange reason the assistant signalled offside so game stopped. A very strange decision as the only Arsenal player to have been offside was Gervinho and he never was near to the ball.
And in extra time Oxlade-Chamberlain gave an excellent ball to Giroud who half rounded the keeper but his effort ended on the wrong side of the goalpost in the side net.
So what can we say about this game? A loss against the league leaders. The league leaders couldn’t score a goal from open play and had to rely on their free kick taking. We had more possession, more shots on and off target, won more duels, had a better passing accuracy. FT Stats Arsenal v Chelsea Shots 17-10, On target 4-3, Fouls 14-14, Duels Won 51%-49%, Pass Accuracy 88%-84%, Possession 51%-49%
But Chelsea made the most of their free kicks and we didn’t defend them well enough. I wonder who the AAA will blame for this. The new found defensive organisation was something they praised Bould for. Will it now be Bouls who gets the blame? Maybe Koscielny was still a bit rusty. After all he has been out for a few weeks and hadn’t started a game until last week. And he can’t have become a bad defender over night.
And we must understand that we cannot play Mertesacker each weak as this also would lead to him getting injured. So I thought the choice for Koscielny was all right at the start of the game but it somehow backfired with us conceding from two free kicks.
We didn’t deserve to lose this game. I think a draw would have been a fair result for both teams but the league table isn’t about what is fair. It is about taking your chances. Chelsea was the better team in this (if you can call those free kicks chances) . That is how football goes sometimes
6 games gone. We played away at Man City, Stoke and Liverpool. Played against Chelsea. So all what are very difficult away games for us and one home game against a top team out of the way. Now it is time to show that we can make a run in the league when we play a few of the teams that we should win from.
The next 3 games in the league are against West Ham, Norwich and QPR. If we manage 9 points from these games we could be close to the top teams as they will start to play each other. So let us move on and look forward to the next game and make sure we take our chances a bit better when they come.