Arsenal were unable to break their hoodoo against Chelsea this weekend in what was another disappointing result for the Gunners against their London rivals. Didier Drogba once again proved to be Arsenal’s nemesis, with his powerful running and cleverly taken goal condeming his favourite opponents to defeat. So what five things have we learnt about Arsenal this weekend?
1. In the big games, a cutting edge is still lacking
Discounting the eventual result, there was not actually a lot wrong with Arsenal’s performance. For long periods they dominated the game, with their technically skilled players passing neatly and quickly to get them into the final third on a number of occassions. Arsenal’s problem against the big teams in recent seasons has not been their general level of play however, it has been the fact that they have been unable to take their chances and have often lacked a real cutting edge. Laurent Koscielny was guilty of missing a sitter, and good goalscoring chances were not in abundance, and it is something Arsene Wenger will need to address if Arsenal are to beat the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United.
2. Arsenal just cannot cope with Drogba
Didier Drogba has been tormentor in chief for Arsenal in recent years, and he has now plundered 13 goals in 13 games against the Gunners, a quite incredible record and one which tells you all about the woe the Ivorian has inflicted upon Wenger’s sides. The weekend was no different, as well as grabbing a goal, Drogba’s physicality and athleticism caused the Arsenal backline problems all day long. Koscielny and Sebastien Squillaci had not faced Drogba before, so it seems the new central pairing are finding it just as difficult to deal with Drogba as their predecessors.
3. Arsenal are missing Theo Walcott
Theo Walcott made an explosive start to this season, banging in 4 goals in just 3 games. Unfortunately his form was curtailed by an ankle injury picked up on international duty and Arsenal have really missed him in the meantime. Walcott has blistering pace and is one of the more direct players in the Arsenal squad, he also provides a goal threat especially when cutting into the box from the right. Samir Nasri is a more than capable right-winger but not having Walcott available leaves Wenger with less options on the wing.
4. Chamakh is looking good, but his strengths could be used more
In the first few minutes of the game Bacary Sagna provided a cross that lone front man Marouane Chamakh only narrowly headed wide. When crosses were put in, Chamakh consistently looked dangerous in the air but this kind of service to the Moroccan was all too rare. When your only striker’s main talent is in the air, the midfield and full-backs should be looking to put plenty of crosses into the box, and Chamakh has proven already in his short Arsenal career that he can but these chances away. Arsenal are not used to this style of play perhaps, but the team should look to utilise Chamakh’s strengths a little more in the future.
5. There is improvement from last year
Arsenal may have lost, and the fans might well be disheartened, but the Gunners’ performance against the champions was certainly better than it was last season. In previous games Arsenal have looked like having no chance whatsoever of winning, but in this match there were some positives and had Arsenal had a little more luck, for instance with Koscielny’s header, things might just have turned out a little differently. Arsenal have looked like getting thumped by Chelsea in recent years, but this was not the case on the weekend and Arsenal can at least take some heart from the fact that they look like an improved outfit.