Arsenal 0 Chelsea 0: Three talking points
Arsenal 0 Chelsea 0: Three talking points as the Blues hold the Gunners at Emirates Stadium
All I want for Xmas is a new No9
When Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho sit down to write their Christmas lists, you would imagine that they have the same item at the top of their lists: a new striker. Olivier Giroud has bagged seven league goals for Arsenal this term and while his all-round play has proved pivotal to their early season success, he has frequently failed to deliver on the big stage. Yes, he did score at the Allianz Arena against Bayern Munich in February but that would be overlooking a major flaw at Arsenal. Giroud has failed to find the net against Manchester United, Manchester City or Chelsea since joining the club, whilst he has only scored one Premier League goal outside of London. The France international looked lethargic up front for Arsenal this evening and was easily contained by Gary Cahill and John Terry. It took him over 80 minutes to shake off their surveillance and get his first shot on goal and it was not surprising to see him spurn the golden chance as he blasted wide from the left corner of the box. Arsenal, quite simply, need a plan B. Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski and Nicklas Bendtner are limited short-term options up front but Arsenal desperately need another striker to challenge Giroud or to replace him if injury permits. As for Chelsea, their lack of incision up front has been well-documented with Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba only finding the net five times between them in the league. Didier Drogba terrorised Arsenal’s defence every time these two sides met but Chelsea lack that explosive and powerful threat up front. Part of the problem lies with Mourinho’s man-management as he was happy to pack Romelu Lukaku off to Everton on loan and the young Belgian has fired eight league goals to turn Everton into serious top four challengers. Torres looked lively early on with his willingness to get between the two centre-halves but ultimately he lacked the quality to make a difference and it proved an easy day at the office for Thomas Vermaelen and Per Mertesacker. Arsenal’s and Chelsea’s midfielders have chipped in with a number of goals to relieve some of the pressure but you only have to look at the likes of Sergio Aguero, Wayne Rooney and Luis Suarez, who frequently pop up with important goals in the big games, to see what the two sides are missing.
It is too early to judge Ozil
A transfer fee commonly dictates what is expected of a footballer and Wenger’s unprecedented splashing of £42m on Mesut Ozil means that fans of the English game are increasingly expectant of match-winning performances from the Germany playmaker. Ozil has enjoyed a respectable start to his career in England, scoring four goals and claiming eight assists in 14 league matches, but his rather subdued displays against United, City and now Chelsea have invited a plethora of criticism. However, it is important to point out that Ozil joined Arsenal four matches into the current campaign and he is still getting to know his team-mates after he did not participate in a pre-season. That is bound to have an effect on any player and we should not forget that Mourinho is fully aware of Ozil’s genius, having worked with him at Real Madrid, and his decision to start three defensive-minded midfielders helped to stifle the German’s playmaking qualities. Those Arsenal fans criticising their record signing should remember that it took Robert Pires and Thierry Henry several months to find their feet at the club and they didn’t turn out too badly, did they?
Mourinho is Arsenal’s nemesis
It was hardly a classic at Emirates Stadium this evening but Mourinho won the tactical battle against Wenger once again to ensure that he extended his unbeaten run over the French professor to ten games. The ‘Special One’ certainly seems to have had the upper-hand on Wenger, having already knocked a second-string Arsenal side out of the Capital One Cup earlier this season, but his team selection this evening sent out a message that it was Chelsea’s priority not to lose, rather than to go to The Emirates and win. Mourinho opted to do without the creativity of Oscar and Juan Mata, selecting Frank Lampard, John Obi Mikel and Ramires in a defensive-minded midfield and it paid dividends as much like they did at Old Trafford, Chelsea simply stopped Arsenal from playing. The creative abilities of Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Tomas Rosicky were thwarted by Chelsea’s effective pressing game in the middle of the park while his decision to deploy Cesar Azpilicueta at left-back proved a masterstroke as the Spaniard performed excellently to nullify the pacy threat of Walcott down the wing. With Mourinho still awaiting his first defeat at Stamford Bridge, there is no doubt that Chelsea are serious title contenders.