How Cowardly Team Selection Led to an Impotent Arsenal Performance
To clarify, no, Wenger is no coward, as the decision to change stadiums and relying on an extremely young side to keep his club amongst the elite of Europe proves.
But in my eyes, there was very little right with the team selection today, and Wenger needed to be a lot braver if he wanted to defeat the league leaders.
Goalkeepers and defense: No problems.
Song and Fabregas: No problems.
Denilson: He's an important player, but a warm-up against Standard Liege after 14 or so matches should not be enough game time to guarantee a starting place against a midfield like Chelsea's.
His performance was average, and he did what he's good at, but there was nobody to really take advantage of what he gives to the team today.
Nasri: Like Denilson, he's barely played, and his only good performance was against Liege as well.
Arshavin: Arshavin's contribution to the team is to be an unpredictable chance creator.
This was absolutely fine when van Persie was around, because van Persie was a stable fulcrum who didn't give the ball away cheaply, and was extremely reliable in the final third. However, in van Persie's absence, there is a need for Arshavin to take over and evolve the van Persie role to the wing, instead of relying on Eduardo, who is clearly, yet understandably, struggling.
Eduardo just started his second or so PL game after an incredibly long time. We know what Eduardo is capable of, but surely he needs more time to adjust to his new role, a role that, one must not forget, van Persie needed several games to adjust to before he finally hit the right notes in the game at Manchester City.
I had a bad feeling before the game that we wouldn't be able to be as direct as we needed to be against the Chelsea defense, just like at Sunderland last week. We seem to need to make two or so more passes than we really need before someone even thinks about taking a shot.
Simply put, Vela or Walcott needed to start this game on the right. Not only to give our midfielders a creative outlet, but also to make Ashley Cole too busy to simply attack at will, creating two decisive goals.
Which wasting Nasri on the right to drift in and be neutralized by Chelsea's midfield, or cross the ball to the shortest players on the pitch, led to.
Denilson's selection was based on wishful thinking and for me, we would have been a lot more successful with Nasri's dribbling in the centre freeing up space for other creative players like Fabregas and Arshavin to be more direct in setting up chances for the likes of Eduardo and Vela/Walcott.
Instead, every time Denilson got the ball, he would either take a few touches and try a forward pass, or make a one touch back to a defender or Song, giving plenty of time for Chelsea to reposition themselves and easily block whatever little we "threw" at them.
I'm used to seeing Arsenal being knocked down, but this time it seems like we fell without even being pushed.
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