Arsenal crashed to another defeat at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea comfortably beat the Gunners 3-1
The Gunners put in a shocking display as Chelsea eased to a 3-1 victory while Arsene Wenger watched on from the stands. Arsenal were always second best in a tie that highlighted just how far Antonio Conte’s men have come since the 3-0 defeat to Arsenal earlier in the season.
The result leaves Arsenal 12 points behind the league leaders while they also dropped into 3rd place as Tottenham secured a 1-0 victory over Middlesbrough. With Manchester City yet to play, Arsenal could still drop to 4th in the league by the end of the weekend. We take a look at some of the key talking points from the match.
Arsene Wenger’s time is running out
Watching from the stands, Arsene Wenger could do little to change the tide of the game but one gets the feeling that had he been on the touchline the result would not have been any different. Chelsea were simply the better team in every department.
The way this season has gone has been an all too familiar feeling for Arsenal fans. The Gunners are 12 points behind Chelsea and despite not being mathematically out of the race, only the most optimistic person would say Arsenal still have a chance of winning the league.
With the spectre of Bayern Munich looming in the Champions League later this month, Arsenal also have an uphill task of attempting to make it past the round of 16. Should Arsenal crash out, as they have done every time they have faced the Germans in the last few seasons, the FA Cup will be the only trophy that Arsenal can realistically win this season.
While Chelsea fans chanted “we want Arsene Wenger to stay” last night, Arsenal fans were of a very different opinion. Many are starting to lose patience with Arsenal’s long-serving manager and it seems like his time is running out with the Gunners.
— 101 Great Goals (@102greatgoals) February 4, 2017
Francis Coquelin exposed yet again
Francis Coquelin’s rise to Arsenal first-team prominence is well documented but the Frenchman is starting to look like a weak link in Arsenal’s midfield. The tenacious midfielder recently signed a new contract with the Gunners but the decision to award him with one is questionable.
Before the match against Chelsea, Arsene Wenger admitted that Arsenal tried to sign N’Golo Kante – who was brilliant in Chelsea’s midfield once again – and on Saturday, Coquelin showed Arsenal exactly why they should have tried harder to sign Kante.
The midfielder was dribbled past on 5 occasions last night, and the way Eden Hazard shrugged him off for Chelsea’s second looked almost too easy. Coquelin also gave the ball away several times during key moments in the match and despite making 3 tackles, looked like the game was passing him by.
Coquelin does not have the passing quality required of a central midfielder at Arsenal nor the pace and power that Kante displays week in and week out for Chelsea. Coquelin is a good player, but Arsenal need much better if they want to plug the holes in their team.
Arsenal need players of Kante’s calibre if they want to win titles. Settling for players who are good but not great has been a recurring problem for Arsenal in recent years and Coquelin is the perfect example of that.
Petr Cech does not look like the answer to Arsenal’s goalkeeping problems
Arsenal struggled to find a goalkeeper to replace Jens Lehmann once the German departed. Manuel Almunia made Arsenal fans nervous every time he was called into action, and Wojciech Szczesny was simply too inconsistent to be relied upon.
Petr Cech was supposed to be the solution to that problem but he has not looked like one this season. Cech has conceded goals at his near post far too often and looks nowhere close to the player who guarded Chelsea’s goal for years.
Cech was also culpable for Arsenal’s third with a terrible pass straight to Cesc Fabregas, something you would not expect of a keeper with Cech’s experience. David Ospina has looked impressive whenever he has played this season, and perhaps it is time for Arsene Wenger to drop Cech and give Ospina a run in the side instead.
Arsenal continue to regret Wilshere loan
With Arsenal’s injury crisis in midfield, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was forced to play in the unfamiliar central midfield position. Oxlade-Chamberlain was very impressive against Southampton in that role and Arsene Wenger has previously said how he feels Chamberlain’s future is in that position.
The Englishman was one of Arsenal’s better players last night as well, making 4 tackles, completing 4 dribbles and 2 key passes. However, Arsenal could still use someone with Wilshere’s talent in midfield especially in games like this.
Wilshere has been very impressive for Bournemouth this season and is a far better option in central midfield than Oxlade-Chamberlain. Arsenal’s decision not to insert a release clause into the loan deal with Bournemouth is looking more and more like a mistake as the season progresses.
Arsene Wenger’s poor record against the big sides continues
Arsenal’s record against the top teams in England is simply not good enough and that weakness continued last night. The statistics showing Arsene Wenger’s poor record against the top sides is damning, as the Tweets below show.
Last 22 games away v Spurs, Liverpool, United, City & Chelsea
Won 2 Drawn 7 Lost 13
— Orbinho (@Orbinho) February 4, 2017
Last 34 overall v Spurs, Liverpool, United, City & Chelsea
Won 6 Drawn 15 Lost 13
— Orbinho (@Orbinho) February 4, 2017
That is simply not good enough for a team that wants to win titles and it shows an amount of tactical rigidity from the manager. Arsenal have the same game plan against almost all the sides they face and are, too often, easy to exploit.
Chelsea showed that last night as they defended against the Gunners with ease, while exposing their defensive weaknesses in ruthless fashion. Wenger needs to change his approach to the big games or those statistics are only going to continue to grow worse.