Goal.com Special: Same Old Arsenal - Why Chelsea Always Expose Arsene Wenger's Flaws

Drogba opener and Alex rocket sees holders beat the Gunners, again...
COMMENT
By Greg Stobart at Stamford Bridge

One of Arsene Wenger's greatest strengths is his faith in his principles, his commitment to an attractive brand of football which he still insists is the way to win trophies for Arsenal.

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But no silverware in five years suggests otherwise and Wenger's complete unwillingness to adapt his style against Chelsea has resulted in four Premier League defeats in a row against the Gunners' London rivals.

Oh, Arsene. When will you learn?

That the Frenchman was so insistent that his side found it “easy” and “dominated” Chelsea despite their 2-0 defeat on Sunday only highlights the folly of his stubbornness.

Chelsea have got Arsenal worked out and Wenger doesn't even realise it.

Ashley Cole does. During a stoppage in play in the first-half, he responded to vile chants from Arsenal's travelling support by pointing to the gold Premier League crest on his left sleeve. It means champions, vindication of his controversial move across London in the summer of 2006, since when Arsenal have not added to their honours list while Chelsea have dominated English football along with Manchester United.

In the first minute of the game, Arsenal right-back Bacary Sagna found himself in a position high up the pitch and whipped in a delivery that strapping centre-forward Marouane Chamakh glanced just wide of the post.

"That the Frenchman was so insistent that his side found it “easy” and “dominated” Chelsea despite their 2-0 defeat on Sunday only highlights the folly of his stubbornness"
Wow, thought Arsenal fans, finally their side was going to acknowledge that it is a good option to have a Plan B. For too long Chelsea defenders have had an easy ride but in the Moroccan striker Arsenal had a genuine chance of scoring by delivering crosses into the penalty area.

But that was about as far as it went. Wenger is the leopard who can't change his spots. So engrained are his players in his tippy-tappy style of football that they can't change their ways against Chelsea's physicality and efficiency in the final third.

Wenger suggested after the game that Chelsea were simply more clinical when it came to converting their chances. Perhaps, but the Gunners could have been embarrassed if Cole's second-half strike had not been ruled out for a marginal offside or if former Arsenal star Nicolas Anelka had not missed an open goal.

For all Jack Wilshere's craft and Samir Nasri's cunning, trying to beat Chelsea by playing through the middle is like attempting to smash down a brick wall using a feather duster.

Simplicity... Strength... Same old...


Chelsea are physically on another planet to Arsenal and the Gunners have now gone three games against the west London side without scoring a goal, while conceding 11 in their last four.

Carlo Ancelotti must have been delighted that Arsenal continued trying to play in cramped spaces through the huge frames of Alex, John Terry, John Obi Mikel and Michael Essien.

The game took on a familiar pattern from the off, with Arsenal playing open football that demonstrated their defensive vulnerability as much as it did their attacking fluency. When Laurent Koscielny missed his header from point blank range, you just knew that the Gunners would be made to rue their misses.

It was a familiar clash of styles with an all too familiar end result for Arsenal. Chelsea don't play ugly football, but they are comfortable in playing direct ball to Didier Drogba, their focal point in attack. Their goal was a testament to their ability to create chances by keeping the ball on the deck. A surging run from Cole, a pinpoint pass from Ramires, a sublime finish from Drogba. Simple.

"For too long Chelsea defenders have had an easy ride but in the Moroccan striker Arsenal had a genuine chance of scoring by delivering crosses into the penalty area. But that was about as far as it went"
While Arsenal prodded and probed, Chelsea went straight for their heart like a juggernaut in full flow. Drogba took his tally against Arsenal to 13 goals in as many games by doing what he does every time he comes up against his favourite opponents. He bullied Koscielny and the hesitant Sebastien Squillaci, who was fortunate not to cost his side a goal when Anelka robbed him before missing an open goal after rounding goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.

The central defensive partnership of Koscielny and Squillaci, facing Drogba for the first time, seemed to inherit the psychological damage inflicted by Drogba on their predecessors, from Philippe Senderos to Kolo Toure and William Gallas.

Drogba was frustrated by Vincent Kompany in Chelsea's 1-0 defeat to Manchester City last weekend, but Arsenal – to be more precise, Wenger – clearly did not get the point. Drogba has many skills but he is not unstoppable. Arsenal had to stick tight to him, deny him space and force him away from goal. Kompany did it at Eastlands; the Arsenal defenders couldn't a week later.

Games are not won on possession, they are won with goals. It was a point Wenger made in his post-match press conference, but his players didn't understand as they afforded Drogba and Anelka bagfuls on room throughout the 90 minutes.

Wenger admits the difference of seven points between Arsenal and Chelsea is already a 'big gap’; perhaps a glance at the table will convince him that maybe he can be wrong.

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