Arsenal’s slim hopes of leapfrogging London rivals Chelsea and winning this season’s Premier League title were ended as the sides drew 0-0 at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The Gunners will be happy with their progress in the second half of the campaign, which has seen Arsene Wenger’s men string together an excellent winning run and power themselves into the top four.
With an FA Cup final to play against Aston Villa also, despite the fact that the North Londoners will not be English champions this term, it looks set to be a relatively successful campaign.
One of the real positives of the 2014-15 season is also an improved record against the division’s top teams, with Arsenal showing this term that they can go toe-to-toe with England’s best.
Last season’s heavy defeats at Anfield, the Etihad Stadium and Stamford Bridge now seem like a distant memory, with the Gunners faring well against the same teams this term.
However, the failure to beat Chelsea at the weekend will leave a slightly sour taste in the mouth.
[ffc-gal cat=”arsenal” no=”5″]
The Blues and their manager Jose Mourinho have been slammed for a lack of ambition and conservative play, but in truth it was Arsenal’s job to break their opponents down – they were the team that were at home and needed the three points to keep the title race alive.
Over the course of 90 minutes that featured plenty of slick passing, energy and gusto from the hosts, few chances were created.
Mesut Ozil had the best opportunity of the game to break the deadlock in the dying moments of the clash but fluffed his lines, while Thibaut Courtois had little to do.
As such, the most frustrating thing for the Arsenal fans will be the strategy of the hosts in the second half.
As Chelsea started to sit back and defend their potential draw, the Gunners had the incentive to take the initiative and really put their opponents under consistent pressure.
With Danny Welbeck, Theo Walcott and other attacking options on the bench, Wenger’s decision to introduce the sprightly English pair came too late in the game.
However, the decision to remove Olivier Giroud, a striker that has been in excellent form despite a subdued performance on Sunday, with less than 10 minutes remaining, was somewhat baffling.
Putting two strikers on the pitch, through the middle, with 15 minutes left would surely have had the inevitable champions sweating much more than a continuation of the 4-2-3-1 ploy.
Although Chelsea were accused of being too defensive, the contrary cannot be said of Arsenal, as the hosts did not throw everything they had at a side that started to sit back with 20-30 minutes remaining.
Arsenal continue to develop and will be a threat in the title race next year; being more ruthless and decisive against top opposition like Chelsea in the future could take them to the next level.