Work to do for Villas-Boas at Chelsea after second derby loss

Youth loses out to experience in battle of London managers after Chelsea suffered a 5-3 defeat by Arsenal

By Charlie Reynolds
andre villas-boas
Villas-Boas's side are now nine points behind league leaders Man City Photo: The Sport Review

andre villas-boas

For the second week running André Villas-Boas has the shadow of a London derby defeat hanging over him.

This time, however, the young Portuguese manager cannot complain about penalties not being awarded, red card decisions or anything other than the fact that his Chelsea side were outplayed by Arsenal.

Overseeing the Blues’ heaviest ever Premier League home defeat is not a record that the man who was unbeaten in 36 consecutive games last season will be proud of – but it is one he must accept and learn from.

In a game which pitted the experience of Arsène Wenger against the young pretender Villas-Boas and where good defending was positively unfashionable it was in the end the wily Frenchman who came out on top.

Arsenal have been much maligned recently and what is ironic is that despite recording such a resounding victory against their bitter rivals, they did little to show that they have addressed their defensive stability, which has been the focus of such criticism.

Per Mertesacker looks far from being the rock in the heart of defence that his signing was meant to bring and he was out of position for Chelsea’s first goal and outmuscled for their second.

However, defence was not the order of day and in attack the Gunners showed that they are still very much a team to be feared.

Arsenal may have lost their last inspirational captain to Barcelona but they have found a new one – and Robin Van Persie is in the form of his life.

The Dutchman has scored nine goals in his last five Premier League games and his fantastic hat-trick once again illustrated just how vital it is for the Gunners that he signs a new contract.

While Villas-Boas and Chelsea will return to the training ground licking their wounds, they will know that they are not far away from having what it takes to seriously challenge for the title.

Juan Mata once again excelled for the Blues, creating the opening goal with an expertly aimed cross and smashing in their third with a swerving shot from 25 yards out.

However, questions remain defensively and only Bolton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers and Arsenal themselves have conceded more goals than Chelsea this season.

The Gunners are testament to the fact that it is difficult to win trophies with problems at the back and if Villas-Boas wants to have any hope of emulating his Arsenal counterpart’s 14 years in charge then he will have to sort out Chelsea’s.

Wenger is fortunate, over the last few years Arsenal have had a patient chairman. Recent history suggests Villas-Boas should not count on the same at Chelsea.

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