Tag Archives: Arsenal

Match Report: Chelsea 2 – 2 Arsenal

Chelsea (1) 2 Arsenal (0) 2
Premier League
Stamford Bridge Stadium, Fulham Road, Fulham, London SW6 1HS
Tuesday, 21st January 2020. Kick-off time: 8.15pm

(4-3-1-2) Bernd Leno; Hector Bellerin, Shkodran Mustafi, David Luiz, Bukayo Saka; Lucas Torreira, Granit Xhaka, Nicolas Pépé; Mesut Özil; Gabriel Martinelli, Alexandre Lacazette.
Substitutes: Dani Ceballos, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Rob Holding, Emiliano Martínez, Joe Willock, Mattéo Guendouzi, Eddie Nketiah.
Scorers: Gabriel Martinelli (63 mins), Hector Bellerin (87 mins)
Red Cards: David Luiz
Yellow Cards: Mattéo Guendouzi
Arsenal Possession Percentage: 41%
Referee: Stuart Attwell
Attendance: 41,577

Less than a month since our previous meeting, we play Chelsea for the final time this season in the Premiership tonight. Judging by both of our results from three days hence, it goes without saying that a win is desperately needed at The Bridge for us. But it is good to see Hector Bellerin back in the first team line-up, and even better for him to return as team captain for this highly-charged London derby.

It was quite a messy start as far as we were concerned, with a corner or two given away, Shkodran Mustafi temporarily incapacitated with a painful injury and the home team coming close to scoring from a corner in the tenth minute. However, we live to fight on, and the midfield area was getting mighty crowded with much of the early action being concentrated in the centre of the pitch. Defensively we looked wooden again, with an inability to gain control of the game quickly when Chelsea attacked. All hell broke loose on the twenty-fifth minute when a poor ball from Shkodran Mustafi let in Tammy Abraham; he lost Bernd Leno easily and David Luiz had no option but to bring him down in the penalty area. The result? David Luiz getting his marching orders from Stuart Attwell, and Chelsea taking the lead from the subsequent penalty via the right foot of Jorginho. Down to ten men, things started to look a trifle dicey for us now in all areas of the pitch. Despite a period of about five minutes before half-time when we started to wake up a bit, the home side recovered and wave after wave of attack on our goal started to take its toll on our defence. With no shots on the Chelsea goal in the first forty-five minutes, the referee’s whistle for half-time came as a relief for us.

The second half started pretty much as the first one finished, with the home side putting pressure on us, which is only to be expected under the circumstances. Mattéo Guendouzi replaced the ineffective Mesut Özil after fifty-four minutes, but despite new legs being introduced, we still looked all at sea with the inability to make our mark on the match. Somehow, literally out of nowhere, from a Chelsea corner that we cleared, Gabriel Martinelli grabbed the ball and ran the whole length of the pitch (sixty-seven yards to you) and coolly slotted it past Arrizabalaga to equalise the scores in the sixty-third minute with our first attempt of the match. So now, finally we have a game on our hands! We certainly played with more purpose now, as Arsenal felt for the first time in the match, that they actually had a chance of winning the game; and with Alexandre Lacazette’s goal chalked off for offside on the seventy-third minute, who knows? Rob Holding replaced Nicolas Pépé with ten minutes to go, and although we were under renewed pressure from Chelsea, we managed to soak up pressure extremely well. With six minutes left on the clock, controversially with Tammy Abrahams returning to the pitch on an offside position, César Azpilicueta scored for the home side from a corner; but it wasn’t over, even then. A minute or so later, the ball came to Hector Bellerin on the right, and cutting inside scored a beautiful goal with his left foot from outside the penalty area with three minutes left of the match. Joe Willock replaced goalscorer Gabriel Martinelli with a minute left of normal time, just to give us something extra for the four minutes of injury time. It made no difference overall, despite one or two close calls from both sides, the match finished as a draw.

Wow. Two shots, two goals, we’ll take that, any day of the week. Despite all of the disasters out there at times tonight, particularly in the defensive area, the one thing that we cannot criticise is our indomitable and unshakable spirit, and with ten men on the pitch as well! Of course we still have extreme defensive issues and questionable leadership problems, but tonight’s spirited performance went a long way to start righting many wrongs. The road is long, but with the right signings in the next few transfer windows, Mikel Arteta’s new broom may just well pay off eventually. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: AFC Bournemouth at The Vitality Stadium on Monday, 27th January at 8.00pm (FA Cup). Be there, if you can. Victoria Concordia Crescit.


Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.

Arteta’s Arsenal need to learn how to hold onto a lead

Mikel Arteta is 5 Premier League matches into his managerial career.

It is too early to judge how he will get on, however there are green shoots of recovery.

Arteta’s Arsenal are harder to break down. Players are more determined to win the ball back and we are giving our opponents less chances to score.

However it has not been a perfect start for the Spaniard. Everything has not gone swimmingly. And there are a couple of causes for concern.

The biggest of which is lost leads.

Under Arteta, Arsenal have lead all but one game – his first against Bournemouth.

Arsenal were ahead against Chelsea with 7 minutes to go, losing 2-1.

Ahead against both Manchester United and Leeds, holding on for the win in both games.

In the last two games at Crystal Palace and Sheffield United, Arsenal went 1-0 up, only to let that lead slip and draw 1-1.

7 points dropped from winning positions. Had Arsenal held on for victory in those games, we would be level on points with Chelsea in 4th. Instead we sit 10 points behind them. Top 4 a long way off.

So why are Arsenal unable to hold on to a win?

Player Fitness

Arteta is clearly demanding more from his players than Unai Emery was, and we are suffering for it in the last 20 minutes of games as players fitness levels are not up to the level being demanded of them.

This does not mean the players are unfit. Just that they are not fit enough to do what Arteta wants.

Against Chelsea we were leading until the 83rd minute. Sheffield United equalised in the exact same minute.

Arsenal had ran out of steam in both games.


Following on from player fitness, questions have to be asked over Arteta’s substitutions.

Against Chelsea and Sheffield United our midfield looked leggy.

In the Chelsea game Arteta substituted Mesut Ozil for Joe Willock in the 76th minute. But this did not resolve Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi looking shattered.

In the Sheffield United draw, Arteta made just one change. Alexandre Lacazette going off for Eddie Nketiah.

Before Sheffield United scored, it was clear and obvious to everyone in the ground that Arsenal’s midfield was off the pace. Ozil was anonymous and Grant Xhaka and Torreira had run themselves into the ground.

Guendouzi and Willock had spent a lot of the game warming up. Just before the equaliser both were set to come on. Could they have been used earlier replacing the ineffectual Ozil and tiring Xhaka? Giving us a boost of energy in midfield?

When the equaliser went in, Arteta stuck with the team that was struggling to create anything. Why did he not twist? Bring om Dani Cebellos for Ozil?

Substitutions are easy in hindsight. But Arteta needs to sharpen up in this area. He needs to make that change if someone is not performing. He needs to recognise when we are starting to defend deeper as we are running out of legs. He needs to react quicker.

Second Goal

Arsenal have struggled to create all season.

The biggest changes to the team since Arteta started have been in defence. We look stronger. Look more solid. Are more of a unit.

Going forward is another story.

We are still struggling to create enough clear cut chances.

Against Chelsea we had 2 shots on target. Crystal Palace is was 3. Sheffield United 4. Bar Nicolas Pepe hitting the post and Lacazette missing the following against Palace, I can not remember a single clear cut chance in any of those 3 games beyond the goal.

Liverpool are the only team in the league conceding less than 1 goal a game on average. Using this very simple statistic, you need to score 2 goals in the Premier League to win a game. Arsenal have scored twice in the league in just 6 games this season.

If we want to convert these draws in recent weeks, we have to get that second goal.

We can point to Pepe’s penalty being turned down and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang being sent off against Palace as extenuating circumstances. But these are just excuses. In neither game did we create enough to win.

If Arsenal want to start winning games again, we have to score more than 1 goal. It is that simple.


Arteta will get things right at Arsenal, but it will not happen overnight.

Players fitness will naturally improve as they get used to the demands put on them. Arteta’s in-game decision making will improve as he gets more experience. And hopefully once we are more solid as a team defensively, Arteta will begin working on our attacking tactics. Players will grow in confidence and we will start scoring more goals again.


The inconsistency of VAR

Consistency. That’s all we ask for.

I have no issue with the Nicolas Pepe penalty decision against Sheffield United. As long as VAR is consistent.

Next time a referee points to the spot after Jamie Vardy, Son or Wilfried Zaha initiate contact and goes down, I expect VAR to intervene and overturn the decision.

Likewise I understand why Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was sent off against Crystal Palace. But since then how many other similar challenges have occurred and VAR has decided not to issue a red card?

VAR should not only exist to overturn “clear and obvious errors” but should also ensure a greater level of consistency in decision making. What is a penalty or red card in one game should be a penalty or red card in the next.

We have already seen with the Aubameyang red card that VAR lacks inconsistency. There have been at least 2 similar challenges since VAR upgraded yellow to red. In neither case was a red card issued.

We also know that between now and the end of the season, Vardy, Son or Zaha will go down under similar circumstances as Pepe. The ref will point to the spot and VAR will fail to overturn the penalty.

The problem with VAR is not the technology. It is those interpreting the incident.

An individuals interpretation of an incident still leads to inconsistent decision making. What one referee thinks is a penalty another might not.

The Calum Chambers “foul” for Sokratis last minute winner still baffles me. It wasn’t a foul yet the VAR decided it was. We have seen more blatant fouls ignored.

VAR can be a good thing. It worked well at the last World Cup. But in the Premier League it has lead to consistent decision making.

At the moment all it is doing is highlighting how inconsistent referees are.