Chelsea’s ruthless efficiency punishes Arsenal’s lack of midfield cover

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.
Booked: Fabregas.
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.

Att: 60,075
Ref: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire).

Arsenal Team Statistics Chelsea
1 Goals 4
0 1st Half Goals 2
6 Shots on Target 5
11 Shots off Target 8
3 Blocked Shots 5
6 Corners 2
19 Fouls 14
1 Offsides 3
1 Yellow Cards 0
0 Red Cards 0
84.4 Passing Success 82.4
16 Tackles 26
87.5 Tackles Success 65.4
49.3 Possession 50.7
64.1 Territorial Advantage 35.9

6 thoughts on “Chelsea’s ruthless efficiency punishes Arsenal’s lack of midfield cover

  1. Denilson is a better player than Song, simply because his positional sense is better. He doesn’t have to nip at opponents all day – he is an invisible wall like Song

  2. I don’t know why gunners seem to rate Song so much. For me he has only had 2 good games in def midfield. I would much prefer Denilson start ahead of Song, he seems to have a better distribution as well. Once Arsenal lose the ball, it seems inevitable that a goal chance would be presented to Chelsea. Song is more impressive as a CB, he was weak in terms of positioning and at one point he was unbelievably slow in tracking back. At least Denilson had some fight about him when he came on.

    As for saying the defence was not so bad, did you see Toure bombing forward. This was before Chelsea had scored. Is he really a defender if he keeps doing this? the first 2 goals I can say were unlucky since they were pretty good. What I wantd to see however was a mindset where the boys said to each other, we must not let in another goal. I would rather we have 2 men sent off for trying to break up play then allow Chelsea to score 2 goals again like they did.

  3. This summer Wenger should make big decisions, the team problem seems to be at the heart of the defense and the heart of the midfield.

    The difference between Man United,Chelsea, and Liverpool from Arsenal is obvious.

    The latest criticism from Dixon or Ian wright I think is right.Arsenal needs players (well established) can take Arsenal to the next level.


  4. I agree with Vertino. Song is physically strong and only good at man marking. We need him when there is a dogfight in the middle (ex against palacios). But Denilson is better at other things. He is not flashy but really efficient, like Gilberto.

    Walcott’s finish was shocking, Diaby didn’t seem to know what he was supposed to do at the left flank.

    And it’s quite irony that since out captain came back from injury, we had to reshuffle the midfilders and defensive solidarity has seemed gone missing.

    I guess Arsene is still trying to figure out our best midlfieder unit. Captain Cesc really needs to find his form and I want Arshavin and Nasri automatic choices. Arshavin seems different class. And Nasri is one of the few midfilders we’ve got who can score goals either right or left foot. I thinks his finish is miles better than walcott. Walcott is a great asset but needs to improve immensly if he wants to be a regular for the team.

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