Arsenal travelled to Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon and came away with nothing but frustration to write home about.
Arsene Wenger’s men dominated the early proceedings but couldn’t break down a stubborn Blues rearguard. Gabriel Paulista was stupidly sent off before half-time after kicking out in retaliation to a challenge from Diego Costa.
Chelsea largely controlled the second half and got their goal through Kurt Zouma who headed Cesc Fabregas’ well-placed free-kick beyond Petr Cech.
Santi Cazorla was sent off for a second bookable offence late on which gave Chelsea’s two man advantage an even easier path to win the game, which was confirmed when Eden Hazard’s effort at goal deflected in off substitute Chambers.
It was a disappointing day for the north London side, but what things did we learn from the showing at Stamford Bridge?
Francis Coquelin is vital to the side’s balance
Not only is the Frenchman a revelation considering his return from loan at Charlton last season, but he is proving himself to be one of, if not the most important player to put the red and white shirt on.
The 24-year-old adds an vital balance to the side, allowing the more talented on-the-ball stars to be able to flourish in attacking areas, which is something the side has been crying out for since Gilberto Silva left the club. It’s a cliche statement, but the need for him in the side is unfathomable.
Against Dinamo Zagreb, Coquelin was rested and it proved to be a costly mistake – time and time again the Croatian side’s midfield players were allowed to press forward, knowing that neither Santi Cazorla nor Mikel Arteta had the positional awareness to deal with the oncoming runs. The same occurred on Saturday afternoon as the Frenchman was brought off at half-time. Coquelin handled the threat of Oscar and Pedro extremely well until he was brought off through injury.
If the Frenchman is out of the Spurs game (which is looking likely) midweek, it could be very difficult for the Gunners to come away with anything at all – leaving a likely midfield partnership of Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini.
Gabriel is ready-made for the Premier League
A born fighter from Brazil, Gabriel has performed fantastically well in the few games that he has been allowed to showcase his plethora of defensive talents at Arsenal thus far this season.
Before being sent off, the 24-year-old showed that he was happy to get stuck into the lifestyle of the Premier League and despite being a tad reactive for getting involved in the situation between Diego Costa and Laurent Koscielny, it is something that Gunners fans will be happy to look back on – because it’s a defender showing passion, anger, grit and is something that hasn’t been present at the club arguably since Martin Keown left.
A good tackler of the ball, strong, quick and agile without it, Gabriel has exactly the kind of characteristics needed to become a top centre back.
Theo Walcott needs consistency
Once again, Theo Walcott was backed ahead of Olivier Giroud by Arsene Wenger.
His runs were exactly the type that the likes of Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla live off.
At Real Madrid, Ozil had the likes of Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo (yes, he did once run on to passes) to make instinctive runs in behind and if Walcott is allowed the consistency to play up front, he could become that clinical frontman for the Gunners.
Walcott has worked a lot on his finishing and has improved vastly at it, with Wenger now clearly favouring him as a striker rather than a winger, and he is a player who lives on confidence, so if given the nod week in, week out, it will not be long before we see his numbers start to go up.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain must find his way in
Chamberlain cannot hold down a place in the first-team and that will sooner or later end up hindering his progress as a footballer.
He was unable to make much of an impact at the Bridge, but was full of running as usual and completed two take-ons, but his job on the pitch changed with the Santi Cazorla sending off, meaning the Ox was essentially operating as both a central midfielder and winger.
Currently occupying his favoured right wing spot is Aaron Ramsey, not naturally a winger, nor happy to feature there, Chamberlain must convince Wenger and supporters by performing to his potential when started, not just brought on as an impact sub.
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