With Arsenal’s absolutely humiliating defeat to London rival Chelsea still stinging, looking back on this game should help Arsenal see how they can improve for the remainder of the season. Defense is vital if Arsenal still believe they have a chance at competing for the title this year. Players need to be healthy, and those that are healthy need to step their game up big time. Turnovers anywhere on the pitch will cost you mightily. If there are any positives one could take from the past game it would only be that Arsenal CAN learn from their mistakes, now the real question is, will they?
Arsenal has done a great job on defense this season (think about last season’s miserable last minute draws or losses); however, they have been broken open for at least 5 goals on three separate occasions this season. Looking at the Chelsea game there were many glaring issues within the back four. First of all, there appeared to be no communication between Mertesacker and Koscielny at all. Both of them at the same time would create a space for any attacking Chelsea player (now Chelsea do have quite a few “slippery” players who are able to find spaces to exploit) to put a shot on goal at the very least. Second, the full backs both got caught out of position leaving acres of space down each flank, pulling the center backs farther apart and spreading their lines incredibly thin. Last, In an attempt to try and pull their team back into the game the full backs did find their own space to get some crosses in on Chelsea’s goal; however, when they did press it, looked as though getting back to defend was an after thought, which does not bode well for the score line.
With most campaigns injuries do happen, studs come up, heads knock together, ligaments burst, but that should not spurn a team from winning matches. Arsenal has felt the effects of having a small team with key players getting hurt at inopportune times (Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott) or all at the same time. Arsenal looked a tired and ragged team running at seventy-five percent because their legs could not carry them any faster. The Gunners need to have their healthy players (Lukas Podolski, Mikel Arteta) playing with intensity or repeats of the last game will become a more regular issue.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Thomas Rosicky have been brilliant for the Gunners over the last month; however, this game they freely gave the ball away to anybody wearing a blue shirt. Within the first ten minutes of the game Arsenal were down by two goals, because of a lack of defensive sturdiness, and turning the ball over. Both of the early minute goals came off of turnovers right around the midfield line after what looked like it could be a promising attack. Each of these turnovers seemed to be a player either being indecisive or telegraphic with where the ball was heading. Turnovers are apart of the game and there is nothing anyone can do to change that; but, limiting the absentmindedness of giving the ball away in dangerous areas in crucial to Arsenal continuing the pursuit of the top of the league table.
So the BIG question, can Arsenal learn form this game and move on from it and turn things around? I absolutely believe they can. The Gunners have shown a great resilience to overcome odds this season; however, they need to forget this game and focus on a few simple things. If Arsenal do in fact learn from this game and take their punches from it they should be alright heading into the final stretch of the season.