Arsenal vs. Chelsea: 6 Things We Learned

Joe Krishnan@joekrishnanContributor IDecember 23, 2013

Arsenal vs. Chelsea: 6 Things We Learned

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    After the immense build-up to the reunion of two of the world's greatest managers, Arsenal and Chelsea played out a drab 0-0 stalemate at the Emirates Stadium.

    Frank Lampard had the best chance of the game, striking the bar with a glorious volley in the first half as Chelsea appeared to be the more likely to score.

    Olivier Giroud had two golden chances to snatch all three points at the end but was denied by Petr Cech and spurned his effort wide of the goal as the Gunners failed to pose much of a threat.

    Here are some of the things we can take away from Monday's top-of-the-table clash, as Arsenal stay second while Chelsea move up to fourth.

John Terry and Gary Cahill: Chelsea's Best 'Big Game' Defensive Partnership

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    It's clear why Jose Mourinho chose to stick with his guns and play English duo John Terry and Gary Cahill as his centre-back pairing.

    The two were crucial to surviving the rare waves of Arsenal attack and managed to thwart the attempts of Olivier Giroud.

    Their aerial presence was superb; there was simply no beating either player in the air, and Terry in particular denied the French striker at a vital moment in the game.

    Defending deep suited the pair, with neither possessing much pace to chase Arsenal's pacier players. However, their reading of the game was impeccable, and rightly, both were named man of the match.

    Food for thought for Mourinho, as the Blues only have Manchester City of the Big Four to face away from home, having secured three draws at Tottenham, Manchester United and now Arsenal, respectively.

There Is Not Much Difference Between the 2 Sides in the Title Race

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    So, despite the build-up, the expectation, the pressure to deliver and, ultimately, the aim to all three points, this game fizzled out into a non-contest by the end.

    After half-time, it never looked like producing a goal, with both sides simply cancelling each other out.

    Perhaps it's fair to say Chelsea had the edge, given that Frank Lampard had come so close to handing the Blues the lead with his effort striking the crossbar, but the Blues then failed to build on their advantage.

    With both sides equal in almost every department, it's never a good sign when both centre-half pairings have a game to remember—and even more so when the goalkeepers have just two saves each to make.

    Two points apart in the title race, there's still a long way to go in the season. But Arsenal and Chelsea are likely to be fighting tooth and nail until the final day of the campaign based on this performance.

It's Time for Arsene Wenger to Rest Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil

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    The two most influential players in Arsenal's season so far—Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey—have a combined total of 12 goals and 13 assists. But it's time for Arsene Wenger to give them a rest.

    The duo looked jaded and never quite got going against Chelsea. Even in physical terms, the burst of pace or slick passing that we have seen so often from the two midfielders was absent.

    Of course, Chelsea's midfielders can be credited to some extent for snuffing out any sense of an opportunity for Arsenal, but the lack of sharpness was evident.

    And not just from the key duo. The majority of the Arsenal side played with intensity, but their levels dropped far sooner than their opponents'.

    With the next game away to West Ham on Boxing Day, there is perhaps no better time to bring in reinforcements.

Frank Lampard Is Still a Key Member of the Chelsea Side

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    If there was any player who had a point to prove in his appearance on Monday night, it was Frank Lampard.

    Now 35 years of age, the England veteran has shown obvious signs of decline, struggling to finish the full 90 minutes and seeing his impact in games gradually decrease.

    However, the former West Ham midfielder was in form, as he crashed his effort against the bar, and showed that he had not lost his ability to time his runs to perfection with a respectable effort after the interval.

    Now operating as a holding midfielder, Lampard identified Fernando Torres at the earliest possible opportunity and was a genuine threat to the Arsenal defence.

    Any doubt about whether he can still offer much to Chelsea was put to bed with a solid display.

Mourinho Prioritises Avoiding Defeat Above Winning Against the Bigger Sides

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    With his side looking more likely to score, one might have expected Jose Mourinho to gamble and attempt to take all three points as opposed to just the one.

    But the Portuguese coach has experienced the feeling of late defeats, having lost 3-2 to Stoke in recent weeks after leading 2-1.

    Even still, to get a win against your rival could be priceless, and the supporters may have been frustrated at the lack of intent to win the game after having the better chances.

    Chelsea formed a 4-6-0 formation as the game neared completion, with David Luiz replacing Fernando Torres, and it was met with some negativity from the Blues fans. It was reminiscent of Chelsea's set-up in the 0-0 draw against Manchester United earlier this season. 

    In fairness, a point was a good result for Chelsea and, in particular, for Mourinho. He is now 10 matches unbeaten against Arsenal, but a win would have surely been the icing on the cake.

Arsenal Need a Back-Up Plan...and Some Signings in January

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    Unlike Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool or even Everton, Arsenal have failed to muster a back-up plan this season.

    Whether it's a matter of tactical stubbornness or simply because Wenger has never taught his players any different is unclear. 

    What is clear is that against tougher opposition, Arsenal struggle to show their best football. 

    Where is the aerial threat like Demba Ba? Nicklas Bendtner may be an option, but does he have the quality that Arsenal can rely on from the bench?

    There are players suitable to be signed in the January transfer window—in-form Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa is reportedly on the Gunners' horizon for a cool £32 million, per James Olley of the Evening Standard.

    With his players looking tired as the fixtures begin to pile up, Wenger may need to open up the chequebook if his side are to continue to compete in the title race.