Chelsea vs. Arsenal: 6 Things We Learned from the Gunners' Embarrassing Defeat
Arsenal's Premier League title ambitions are well and truly over after the Gunners suffered a humiliating 6-0 defeat to Chelsea in Arsene Wenger's 1000th game in charge. The Pensioners, on the other hand, are most definitely title contenders after this one-sided display.
Jose Mourinho's Pensioners inflicted their game upon the Gunners from the very first moment, as they picked up their biggest ever win under the Portuguese.
Chelsea scored twice in the opening seven minutes through Samuel Eto'o and Andre Schurrle before Kieran Gibbs received a red card to leave Arsenal needing miracles. The Blues continued their rampant first half display as Eden Hazard scored from the spot before little Oscar made it 4-0.
The Brazilian then added his second before recent-signing Mohamed Salah added the embarrassing sixth.
Arsenal have now played away to Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea this season and have conceded as many goals against these three teams as the rest combined. Importantly, Wenger has never beaten Mourinho in 11 attempts.
The game started at a frantic pace, with sides tearing into each other right from the off, but it was Chelsea who drew early blood. Mere moments before Eto'o opened the scoring with his clever finish, Olivier Giroud had forced Petr Cech to make an excellent save as the game moved from end-to-end.
Wenger and his team barely had time to breath before Schurrle buried Chelsea's second. Arsenal's 'keeper Wojciech Szczesny was rooted firmly to the spot and could only look on as a spectator as the German international's shot fizzed into the back of the net.
From there, things went from bad to worse for the bedraggled Gunners. Eto'o left the field with a hamstring injury, but he was replaced by Fernando Torres. The Spaniard was instrumental in winning a penalty that resulted in Kieran Gibbs wrongly receiving a red card.
There is no doubt that giving the penalty was the right decision by Andre Marriner, the referee. However, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain handled the ball on the line, not Gibbs, and should have been sent off in his place.
It mattered little to Hazard who absolutely buried his spot kick to give Chelsea an unassailable lead.
Despite the controversy, the sending off made little difference to the flow of the game, as Mourinho's team were in such utter command.
To add insult to injury, Chelsea added a fourth when the influential Oscar finished with aplomb.
Arsenal reorganized at half-time in an effort at damage limitation. Chelsea, however, goaded on by Mourinho, played in a professional manner and added another two goals to inflict an embarrassing defeat on Wenger in his 1000th game in charge.
In the build up to the game, Wenger told the awaiting media, as per the Independent, that every defeat leaves "a scar in your heart that you never forget."
One thing is for sure, he will never forget this defeat.
Here, Bleacher Report looks at six things we learned from Chelsea vs. Arsenal and Arsene Wenger's 1000th game in charge.
Arsene Wenger Was Ready for the 'Game of the Season,' but His Team Weren't
Before the game, Arsene Wenger spoke to the media who were previewing his 1000th match. He talked of how tight things were in the four-horse title race. Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City's form and mental attitudes mean that no team can afford to slip up.
He told the press conference, as per the Daily Mail: "It’s the game of the season for us because it will be against a direct opponent."
Unfortunately for Le Prof, Chelsea were by far and away the better team long before the ragged Gunners resorted to damage limitation with 10 men.
The complete and utter lack of pace in Arsenal's midfield meant that they were on the back foot right from the off. Mikel Arteta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were bypassed time and time through central midfield.
Perhaps the occasion of playing in their legendary manager's 1000th game was too much for certain players. On the evidence of the first 15 minutes, when Arsenal had 11 men on the pitch, this is certainly the case.
The sad fact is that when they were needed most, in their biggest game of the season, Arsenal's players went missing.
Chelsea Closed Arsenal Down Rapidly in Midfield and at the Back
Lacking real pace across their team, with the exception of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arsenal had no penetration in their team.
Last week against Tottenham Hotspur, the Gunners were outplayed across midfield and up front. The 1-0 win over their North London rivals papered over the cracks of a very poor performance.
Spurs are no great shakes, and their high defensive line helped make midfield a more compact area which suited their tactics. Chelsea, a far better and more organized team, had no need to push up so high.
John Terry controlled the Blues' defensive line and played, perhaps, 10-yards further back than Spurs did. This simple move completed negated Oxlade-Chamberlain's ability to break from midfield. The Pensioners more mobile midfield then closed the Gunners down all across the pitch.
The end result was chaos and a strangulation of Arsenal that resulted in Chelsea scoring three goals in the first 15 minutes and the Gunners mentally submitting.
The game was as good as over after Andre Schurrle's shot hit the back of the net. Chelsea and Jose Mourinho had done their homework. The surgical precision in which they carried out their tactical plan was truly frightening.
If the game was over at 2-0, it was completely over when Gibbs was sent off in addition to Eden Hazard's penalty.
Never mind the fourth goal or fifth or sixth...
Arsenal's Mental Fragility Was Badly Exposed
As soon as Samuel Eto'o opened the scoring, the game was as good as over for most of Arsenal's players.
In 2012, Dennis Bergkamp told Alan Smith, writing for the Daily Telegraph, that Arsenal were predictable and lacked a winning mentality.
The Dutchman refused to blame Wenger, but he maintained that there are fundamental problems in the Arsenal's mentality.
Mikel Arteta recently stated to the Sun (subscription required) that his team needed to discover how to win trophies rather than plaudits.
There is little doubt that Arsenal do not possess true character. They are mentally weak, and as soon as their players realized they were in a battle, they gave up.
The only Arsenal player who came out of the disastrous first-half with any credit was Per Mertesacker.
The "BFG," as he is warmly known to Arsenal fans, tried his damndest to motivate his shell-shocked teammates to little avail.
There will be plenty of soul searching for Arsene Wenger and his team over the course of the coming days.
The red card and sending off will allow Wenger to shift the blame and loss to the referee. However, in his heart of hearts, he will know that his team were so off-the-pace, their first-half performance was embarrassing.
Playing against a team of the quality of Chelsea with 10-men is something that no footballer would willingly face. Ninety-nine times out of 100, the game would end in a one-sided win for the Blues.
However, there is no excuse for not being honest and not trying to the fullest of your ability.
This is where Arsenal failed abysmally.
Jose Mourinho Shows Why He Is a Great Manager
Despite the one-sided affair, there was ample evidence on why Jose Mourinho is one of the best managers in the world.
That fact that Jose is so good will be nothing new to B/R readers. He is rightly hailed as one of the best managers of all time, and today, he showed why he is so special.
Before the game, one would have thought that Arsenal's players would have been chomping at the bit to tear into Chelsea.
Instead, it was Mourinho's men who charged out of the Stamford Bridge tunnel with a tactical game plan.
Mourinho set his team up to close down and suffocate the Gunners in midfield.
Once his team got on top, the game was won. His tactical game plan was decisive, exact and cruelly exposed Arsenal's limp title ambitions.
From there though, even at 4-0, he insisted on his team doing everything right and continuing to play as if the score was 1-0.
For a perfect example, all one had to do was to see his rant at Branislav Ivanovic for not getting back into position at right-back from a corner with the score at 4-0! Moments after he had scored his second goal of the game and Chelsea's fifth, Oscar was substituted because he had lost discipline in midfield and had started playing loose passes.
That is why he is so good. He gives his team direction and instruction and insists they stick to it. When they see the ensuing results, they buy into his culture even more.
Just don't get on the wrong side of him.
Mikel Arteta Is Not Effective at the Highest Level
Like most of Arsenal's players, Mikel Arteta has enjoyed better days at the office.
The central midfielder was off-the-pace from the very first moment. In hindsight, Arsene Wenger should never have picked the immobile Spaniard, especially against a team with Chelsea's speed of thought of movement.
Arteta is a continuity player par excellence. The ex-Everton man keeps Arsenal's passing moves flowing through midfield and is excellent at keeping possession.
However, against a team like Chelsea, he is questioned in a far more forensic manner.
At the highest level, opposition full-backs push on regularly and central midfielders are quick, creative and intuitive.
Arteta simply does not have the pace or positional sense to be effective against a team like Chelsea.
Jose Mourinho exposed Arsenal all over the park but none more so than Arteta.
1000 Games Not Out, but Arsene Wenger Needs to Answer Questions
There is sure to be an inquiry at Arsenal following this heavy and humiliating defeat.
Make no bones about it, the Gunners will not win the Premier League, and their title ambitions are over for another season.
There will be plenty of finger-pointing from players to referees, but the man who must answer more questions than any other is Arsene Wenger.
In his 1000th game in charge of the great club, Wenger set his team up horribly wrong. They were mentally second best throughout. The body language from his players at just 1-0 will be most concerning to the Frenchman.
Many Arsenal fans will blindingly point toward their club's injury crisis, but even here, Le Prof is culpable.
Back in 2011, Wenger told the Guardian that injuries were threatening to derail Arsenal's season. The Gunners went through another injury crisis in 2012, as per the Daily Mail. This season, he bemoaned their injury crisis again to the Guardian.
This same pattern has existed for the last 10-years, according to Dutch coach Raymond Verheijen.
To the untrained eye, injuries are often ruled out to bad luck. However, in most cases, they can be avoided by a clear and structured approach to the well-being of the players.
Wenger's tactics today were a result of the club's mismanagement of their transfer and fitness policies. Ultimately, the buck stops with him.
Even if he does send out a team that he knows will lose, the very least one should expect is the correct attitude.
On this, the biggest day of their season, they were less than poor.
This is the saddest way possible for the legendary manager to spend what should have been a glorious day. There are very few men in the game as influential and as good as the Frenchman.
He set high standards for every other manager to live up to, and unfortunately for him, he might not measure up anymore.