4 Observations from Arsenal’s 0-0 Stalemate With Chelsea

By on April 27, 2015

Arsenal were held to a 0-0 draw by Premier League leaders Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon. Here, Gunner333 gives us his 4 observations from the game….

Danny-Welbeck

Danny-Welbeck

Season ambitions on a steady incline, Arsenal were looking for a tenth consecutive league victory when leaders Chelsea paid a visit to the Emirates on Sunday afternoon.

In any other season a London derby of such calibre at this stage of the season would prove paramount but, given the fact that Chelsea were ten-points clear at the top and Arsenal’s near-certainty of achieving a top-four finish, the build-up was rather subdued.

On saying that, Arsenal, unchanged from their last three league outings, began on the front-foot and were keen to gain a stranglehold of possession. It would however be referee Michael Oliver who would play centre-stage in the first-half as he waived away four penalty appeals.

Oscar was the first to tumble following a Bellerin clip, moments before the Brazilian collided with Arsenal keeper Ospina amidst a one-on-one opportunity, the midfielder’s effort lobbing the Colombian, only for Bellerin to divert it away with a head. Then it was Arsneal’s turn to shout, but the dubious appeal for Cahill’s supposed hand-ball was rightfully waved away. Oliver somewhat redeemed himself with the Arsenal faithful moments later however, booking former-Gooner Cesc Fabregas for simulation; cue Arsenal taunting.

Ramires was slipped through by Willian in the dying embers of the first period, but failed to get enough on his outside-of-the-boot attempt to test Ospina.

Both sides began to see value in a draw as the game wore on, the intensity plummeting as Chelsea held back and Arsenal looked less keen to utilise possession effectively.

Terry and co. were formidable, but were tested when Monreal fired a low ball across the box, only for it to elude Özil’s sweeping effort and Welbeck failed to make connection also.

So the game ended as a stalemate, but courtesy of exceptional defending from either side, as opposed to any lacklustre attacks. Chelsea’s full-time celebrations implied great satisfaction at the result, as they denied Arsenal the opportunity to close the gap.

The Gunners were solid though and just lacked that little bit of cutting edge. Here, I shall now analyse some observations I made in the game.

Superior Attacking Talent

Chelsea may boast attacking talents like Eden Hazard and Oscar, but they ultimately fail to match the diversity of attack that Arsenal pose, which was once again evident yesterday. Hector Bellerin looked as pivotal to the attack as he did to the back-line and his crosses added a new element to Arsenal’s already danger-inflicting armoury.

Cazorla and Ramsey meanwhile held back to present themselves for any lay-offs from Giroud or pull-backs from Sanchez out-wide; who also altered his approach from energetic bursts down the flank to movements inside to make space for a shot.

We may not have scored, but we showed signs of doing so, much more than Chelsea did. The lack of a killer final ball returned to haunt us and it took the league’s sturdiest defence to deny us at home for the first time this league campaign.

Quick To Recover

Although the game was not a classic, we still witnessed a match of great intensity and back-to-front play mimicking a basketball game at times, especially in the first half. Counter attacks were the focal point for both sides and this required sound organisational skills.

Mertesacker is no doubt aware of his lack of pace and held back to anchor the defence when in position, with Koscileny a little further forward and the full-backs contributing to the attack.

When we lost the ball though, I cannot remember EVER seeing the boys so sharp at getting back into position and sniffing out danger. Every individual pushed themselves to the limit and committed with nitty-gritty challenges to break play up in midfield or deny the Chelsea front-men on the edge of the area. Perhaps they have been learning from Coquelin…

Not Phased By Big Blues

Arsene Wenger set the team up to be ambitious, racking up twelve shots in the game, coupled with the unsurprising majority share of possession. It was a different story from when we have faced the Blues in recent years, where we would shy away and accept inferiority; this was certainly not the case on Sunday.

Every ball was up for grabs in Arsenal’s eyes and, as it was evident Chelsea’s game plan would be to defend as the game wore on, we tried our hardest to break down a truly obdurate defence, lead heroically by a spectacular display from John Terry. Had Welbeck been a touch more alert and fortuitous in the closing moments, we may very well have done.

As a whole not incredible, but our record against any of the big sides this campaign has been a massive improvement on last season, where we were turned over by Liverpool, City and the Blues themselves. Far more capable in balancing defence with attack and boasting far more confidence, we are now better set-up to be competitive in the bigger clashes in future.

Aggression Factor

Two elements needed by any top side. Chelsea fans will no doubt churn out remarks about the nature of Arsenal’s defensive approach, but a bit of rough-and-tumble never hurts. Arsenal have always whimpered in the past against sides of Chelsea’s physicality and if they need to over-compensate with a few wayward challenges to stamp some aggression on the game, then so be it.

For any admirers of the classic game, it’s always good to see battles in midfield and at times, even the likes of Cazorla and Ramsey were eager to sniff Chelsea blood. Coquelin set the tone with an early dismantling of Hazard and from there-on-in it was apparent there would be no letting off from the Gunners for the rest of the afternoon.

At any other time, a wonderful result but, given the sensational run-of-form of late, the Gunners may have wanted a little more. Still, it stands us in good stead in the push for second place and gives us an excellent platform to build on as we prepare for next season. COYG!

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