Chelsea Draw Though Uninspiring Shows Resilience

Photo summary: Chelsea's game plan...

Photo summary: Chelsea’s game plan…

Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho’s ten encounter may not have been a classic, but perhaps did show a changing in the tide.

Mourinho has never lost to Wenger in their ten meetings during his two spells in charge of Chelsea having won five and now drawn five but last night’s tie proved just the second time an Arsenal side has managed a clean sheet against a Mourinho Chelsea.

Having conceded six in the previous match away at fellow title rivals Manchester City it was important the Gunners did not have their morale battered anymore.

With club captain Thomas Vermaelen replacing the injured Laurent Koscielny, as he did after the Frenchman was injured at the Etihad, and Mathieu Flamini starting on the bench as Mikel Arteta was given a starting berth Arsenal, perhaps, were not looking too defensively solid on paper.

Though the Blues had chances there were no real standout, clear-cut chances for the visitors as it seemed they executed their lacklustre gameplan in a match in which it was difficult for the hosts to add any energy.

In order to win championships there are times when a side has to be not quite at their best, yet still able to find a result, and unfortunately the only thing missing last night was a goal.

It was clear to see Mourinho played for the draw, as he did at Old Trafford earlier in the season, but his plan was nearly ruined, and should have been as Olivier Giroud failed on two attempts to get what would have been a crucial goal.

Mourinho

The new Mourinho: all hot air?
[Getty Images]

Chelsea, under their Portuguese manager, especially in his first reign were a side of power, often overpowering teams on their way to winning back-to-back league titles and it was their power that gave them the upper hand against a more stylish Arsenal team.

Their current crop may not be as powerful as years gone by and their players may also be ageing, but it was still important for Arsenal to avoid defeat.

With the team showing they are no longer going to roll over and surrender in big matches there is a sign of encouragement, though the ambition to take the game to Chelsea was lacking but it gives the team another platform to build from.

The defensive organisation in recent months, even dating back to last season, has been great and that work looked as though it had been undone after the high number of goals conceded against City last time out but the defence versus Chelsea looked stubborn once more.

Frank Lampard crashed an effort against the bar, but that was one of, if not the only really noteworthy effort.

Arsenal failed to test Petr Cech, which may be something Wenger looks back on, but there were factors that went against the team also as well as Wenger’s unwillingness to make any changes.

A penalty should have been awarded in the first half when Theo Walcott was tripped in the box, and also both John Obi Mikel and Ramires may have been fortunate to stay on the pitch, decisions which had they gone the way of the Gunners could have seen Arsenal reclaim top spot.

Sitting in second place, only by goal difference ahead of Christmas is a great position for Arsenal to be in, and having led for the majority of the season so far there is no reason as long as Wenger is willing to spend in the midseason market the title challenge cannot be prolonged.

It is clear a striker is needed.

Another disappointing day at the office for Oli G...

Another disappointing day at the office for Oli G…

Giroud has been great, and like many had predicted has offered much more in his second season than he did during his first term in North London, but more goals are needed.

Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil have also chipped in with goals but with Nicklas Bendtner seen as the current back-up for Giroud more is required to sustain the push for silverware.

Options are available and though Wenger has admitted he does not like to do business in January in the past he has moved in the window before when pushed as when Andrey Arshavin joined in 2009.

There are two routes Wenger could go down, he could look to rotate the striking options at the club by playing Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski centrally, a position both have declared they would relish a chance in, or he could bring in a fresh face.

Neither Walcott or Podolski have the aerial threat or link-up ability of Giroud though both are more potent finishers, however, if a player like Edin Dzeko were available Wenger may have to act.

The Bosinian has been recently linked but prizing him away from City could be the tricky part, with them being a rival in the title race.

There was a similar situation in the summer with Chelsea preventing Demba Ba joining on loan.

A striker of the mold of Dzeko or Ba would perhaps be the ideal with both adding extra back-up to what Giroud brings to the team.

The two mentioned may not even have the technical ability of Giroud but are both competent at holding the ball up and have scored goals in the Premier League, though in terms of poachers Podolski and Walcott would provide options if needed within the current squad.

The winter window is a difficult time for a manager to act and bring in players, especially of the top quality which it could be argued neither Dzeko nor Ba are but if this is to be the year Arsenal really push to remain in the title race surely a reinforcement is needed.

 

 

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