After conceding two gut-wrenching goals in the last five minutes before the break, it must’ve dawned on Arsene that there was no point in us dominating possession, with an extra man in midfield, without imposing any threat up front.
But sadly Theo Walcott didn’t have much of an impact, nor did Vela when he replaced Eduardo, nor Rosicky when came on for Nasri.
In fact for the entire 90 minutes it felt as if our far too feeble canons were firing soft bread rolls, which were unlikely ever to make a dent in the reinforced steel of Chelsea’s defence.
Although le Gaffer might’ve been going for broke, by withdrawing our most defensively minded midfielder, it could be argued that we’d have been better off if Song had stayed out on the park, because out of the nine players (six starters and three subs) who played in front of our defence on Sunday, Song was the only one with the sort of muscular presence to present Chelsea with a different problem.
I can’t agree with all those pundits who maintain that it was men against boys, as for the most part, I felt our diminutive midfield didn’t do so badly at containing Lampard, Essien and company and the Chelsea midfield will make hay against several more physical sides this season.
Size is a factor, when we’re banging the ball into the box for the likes of Eduardo and Vela to compete in vain, in the air against much bigger centre-backs.
But it’s not always relevant, as I went home to watch Lionel Messi excel against Real Madrid, in “El Clasico” at the Nou Camp, with almost the entire opposition taking a turn at trying to shove the tenacious little maestro off the ball.
No if Sunday’s game served as proof of anything, it was a stark reminder that in the absence of Van Persie and Bendtner, Arsene efforts to try and rescue something from this match floundered on the fact that he was left replacing like for like, with a potpourri of identikit players that currently leave the Gunners looking like an albeit attractive and extremely talented, one trick pony! Watching Drogba and Lampard discussing the free-kick, as the Blues lined up to hammer home the third and final nail in the lid of our coffin, it occurred to me that they must be facing one of the Premiership’s smallest ever walls.
Quite frankly a cleansheet was never on the cards for this Arsenal side, against an “on fire” Drogba & Anelka. Yet despite the painfully amusing sight of Traore literally bouncing off Drogba, like a ball hitting the side of an arctic barrelling along at 100mph, Chelsea’s potent strike force didn’t embarrass us, in the way that Drogba did for Philippe Senderos, leaving the Swiss centre-back a permanent psychological wreck.
However that “corridor of uncertainty” which Cashley found with his two crosses could be a whole lot less vulnerable, if it was occupied by a demonstrative goalie, who dominated his area. If we had a screaming lunatic of a world class keeper, coming to claim everything in his six-yard box, instead of a timid Almunia stopping on his goalline and remaining schtum, Tommie Vermaelen might not have stuck a tentative leg out?
Meanwhile conceding the odd goal only becomes a critical problem, when the formerly free-scoring Gunners suddenly look so impotent, as if they’ve undergone a mass vasectomy!
Sunday’s game demonstrated that if Arsene continues to stick rigidly to 4-5-1, rather than using our available horses for 4-4-2 courses, then surely he’s got to spend in January if he’s serious about fulfilling his promise to end our barren spell.
I suppose he could look to the kids, but with the Brady Bunch seemingly all developed from one single mould, I’m not sure there’s a recognised centre-forward anywhere on the conveyor belt of the Arsenal’s production line of talented tiny-tots. There’s certainly no-one who’d offer the impetus of the addition of an experienced “big man” with proven line-leading ability.
Still there’s nothing like the prospect of watching our youngsters, hopefully making a monkey out of Man City’s all-star millionaires, to blow away the cobwebs of Sunday’s calamity. It’d be extremely careless of us to lose sight of a second trophy in the same week, but with City fans already beginning to moan about Adebayor’s indolence, the pressure on our youngsters will be positively minimal, compared to the demands for a return on Mark Hughes’ spillage of Abu Dhabi oil reserves.