1) For all the positives we have seen since Steve Bould has become assistant manager, Arsenal are still making silly mistakes from set pieces. The defence definitely looks much more together during open play and Bould has put a lot of work into our set pieces, but we still conceded two pretty soft goals against Chelsea. The first one I can accept (Torres put himself in a good position), but the second goal was just frustrating to watch.
I really felt that a point would have been a fair result. Chelsea didn’t threaten that much from open play, but did hit us on the break a few times. Cech made some good saves from Podolski and Giroud, and unfortunately it just wasn’t our day.
2) Arsène Wenger has confirmed that Abou Diaby will be out for “minimum three weeks” with thigh strain. Diaby limped off in the 17th minute and was replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Having no Diaby or Mertesacker in the team meant that we suddenly lost and physical advantage (which leads me conveniently onto point 3).
3) Arsene Wenger made a mistake by playing Laurent Koscielny instead of Per Mertesacker. Wenger defended his decision to drop the big German by saying that all of our defenders are internationals and that “nobody can play all the games”. Whilst I agree that Koscielny is a fantastic defender (let’s ignore an average performance against Chelsea) and that Per can’t play every single week, I still feel that it was the wrong decision. Mertesacker offers something different and adds another dimension to the team. His presence and awareness allow him to make vital interceptions, such as the ones made on multiple occasions against Manchester City, and he is big and imposing for set pieces. I think the fact that Koscienly scored against City had a big influence on Wenger’s choices.
“That is a decision which was based on the opposition we played. You can say it was a wrong one maybe, but I believe is a lowering the quality of the players who played, they are internationals.”
4) Arsenal took points away from both Anfield and Eastlands, so a defeat to Chelsea is not the end of the world. We have had some pretty tough opening fixtures and we will recover. The main task should be to try and take as many points as we can from the lower teams. Anything we get from the big games is a bonus. The performance against Chelsea was still pretty good and it is way too early to write us off as title challengers.
5) Gervinho does know how to finish. Wenger’s faith in the Ivorian seems to be paying off. Gervinho can be slightly frustrating to watch on occasions (he really needs to work on his first touch), but 4 goals already this season would seem to indicate that he is headed in the right direction. We now need to work out when to use Gervinho and when to play Olivier Giroud up front. I am pretty sure that Giroud will start on Wednesday against Olympiakos.