By Shikharr Chandra
In what was billed as the game of the matchday ended in a drab goal-less affair which meant that neither Arsenal nor Chelsea ended up on table of the table. Arsene Wenger just cannot find a way to beat Jose Mourinho it seems. The Frenchman has faced Mourinho on ten occasions with the latter coming out on top five times, with the rest being draws.
Although Monday’s game failed to produce any fireworks, Mourinho once again won the tactical battle against the current longest serving manager in the Premier League. Wenger opted to start with Tomas Rosicky which meant that club top scorer Aaron Ramsey had to drop deep alongside Mikel Arteta in the middle of the park.
On the other hand, Mourinho took a bold step by keeping both Oscar and Juan Mata out of the lineup and instead handed a start to Willian and Ramires alongside Eden Hazard to form the attacking trio behind Fernando Torres. Chelsea had been set to play on the counter and the formation which looked like a 4-2-3-1 would often change its shape of 4-3-3 in order to neutralize the Arsenal midfield.
It must be noted that one of the major fallacies of this Chelsea side is their lack of creative options or a playmaker in the central midfield. Mourinho packed his midfield with John Obi Mikel, Frank Lampard and Ramires to not allow Arsenal enough space to maneuver. Hazard and Willian too dropped in order to support their full-backs respectively.
The plan worked in the first half as they came close to finding the back of the net when Lampard’s volley hit the crossbar from Hazard’s cross. The Blues had as many as four attempts on goal to Arsenal’s none. Arsenal failed to get their passes right on numerous which allowed Chelsea to counter swiftly and usually won the numbers game when going forward.
|Chelsea's movement in attack||
Change in shape while defending
Ramires in particular dropped in deep to support the pivot and also acted as an extra man when going forward.
The most impressive part of Chelsea's game though was how well they defended. They have taken quite a stick lately over the number of goals they have let in but the centre- back duo of Gary Cahill and John Terry were impressive.
Mikel's presence also allowed Lampard more freedom to roam about and thus getting a lot more involved in the attack.
After the break, the home side carved out two of the best chances of the game for Olivier Giroud who, on both occasions, scuffed his chances. What’s important to note is that Arsenal didn’t muster a shot on target until in the final ten minutes.
Mourinho on the other hand looked content with the draw as he removed Torres and brought in David Luiz during the last few minutes of the game to provide an extra body in the defense.
It wasn’t surprising that Chelsea came back with a point away from home in what a classic performance by a Jose Mourinho side – pragmatic to the core.
Arsenal fans booed Chelsea at the end of the game to which Mourinho responded.
“I'd agree [with the chants]," he remarked. "I played against them 10 times and I never lost. Ten times, they don't win once. What do you want to call me?"