Chelsea ensured third place with a ruthlessly efficient performance over the Gunners, who despite having greater of the attacking play, left too much space in front of defence.
Arsenal 1-4 Chelsea
Both Arsenal and Chelsea would have wanted this match to mean much more than just a fight for third place but this season that third place means just a bit more. Automatic qualification to the Champion League awaited the winner.
Arsenal started the game with more purpose and fluidity in their passing and movement. Theo Walcott certainly thrives on the central midfield being on form and early on the winger was easily found time and time again by Arsenal’s creative force. Ashley Cole was given a torrid The early exchange saw Walcott miss four chances and Diaby scuffed wide with another but with every passing miss, one could sense Chelsea were ready to make them pay.
And indeed they did. A cheap free-kick was crossed for Alex to power in an unstoppable header and a long range shot from Anelka made it two. The Blues were taking advantage of the space afforded to them in front of the defence while at the other end, Arsenal continued probing without reward. The greater attacking play went to Arsenal but the scoreline reflected Chelsea’s ruthless efficiency rather than intricacy.
The Gunners’ approach play means not only do the passes have to be accurate, but also requires that little bit more to be squeezed from each personnel. As a result, the high demands on the build-up created huge gaps in front of the back four. They didn’t played really badly, Gibbs especially had a good game, but it highlights the need for someone to really command the area between midfield and defence. Song hustled and bustled and on a whole did decently however when replaced by Denilson, the Brazilian showed better positional play and made four interceptions to Song’s two.
To be fair to Song, he was a lot of the times isolated in his defensive duties by his team mates. Wenger has tried to implement a high pressure game but one that is lacking organisation; at times it was hard to tell whether it was Nasri or Fabregas who were playing deeper or higher.
Guus Hiddink’s side started quicker off the block and Ashley Cole forced an own goal off Toure with Fabianski all over the place positionally. Bendtner pulled one back but another good move by Chelsea, taking advantage of the gap afforded to them was finished by Malouda after Anelka hit the post.
A busy summer lies ahead. Arsene Wenger has one side of his ideals almost complete, the aesthetics but the side lack the decision making and awareness of the game that will ultimately come with experience. The signs are the side is starting to gel but like this game, all will be undone without the glue to keep it together.
Man of the Match: Florent Malouda– Exposed lack of protection in his supporting of Drogba and was a thorn in Arsenal’s back.
Arsenal: Fabianski (5), Sagna (5), Toure (6), Silvestre (6), Gibbs (7), Walcott (7) (Adebayor 68), Nasri (6), Song (6) (Denilson 67), Diaby (6) (Bendtner 59), Fabregas (6), Van Persie (7).
Subs Not Used: Mannone, Ramsey, Djourou, Eboue.
Goals: Bendtner 70.
Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa (Ivanovic 77), Alex, Terry, Ashley Cole, Essien, Mikel, Lampard, Anelka, Drogba, Malouda (Ballack 88).
Subs Not Used: Hilario, Di Santo, Kalou, Belletti, Mancienne.
Goals: Alex 28, Anelka 39, Toure 49 og, Malouda 86.
Ref: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire).
|0||1st Half Goals||2|
|6||Shots on Target||5|
|11||Shots off Target||8|