Arsenal 0 Chelsea 1: what we predicted and how it panned out
PUBLISHED: 13:15 25 January 2016 | UPDATED: 11:55 26 January 2016
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What we predicted
We confidently forecast that Arsenal would finally end their barren run against their struggling London rivals with a 2-1 victory.
Even with a full complement of players, the Gunners looked shaky at the back and presented Oscar and Willian with early opportunities to test their former team-mate Petr Cech.
But the turning point came on 18 minutes when Chelsea counter-attacked and the home midfield crumbled as Willian slid a pass through for Diego Costa, who was chopped down by Per Mertesacker.
Referee Mark Clattenburg showed Mertesacker the red card – and Arsene Wenger’s decision to sacrifice centre-forward Olivier Giroud for Gabriel was met with derision from large sections of the Emirates crowd.
It didn’t help when Costa converted Branislav Ivanovic’s cross to put the visitors ahead soon afterwards and Arsenal, who seemed content to play out the rest of the game with a 4-2-3-0 formation, rarely looked likely to equalise.
Mathieu Flamini volleyed over in first-half injury time, but that was about as close as they came, while Cech denied Costa and ex-Arsenal skipper Cesc Fabregas at the other end.
Buy him a pint
Not for the first time in recent weeks, Cech kept his side in the contest, while Joel Campbell worked hard for little reward, especially after the Gunners went down to 10 men.
However, the pace and energy of Hector Bellerin on the right flank gave Arsenal their best chance of a recovery – although it might have helped if he’d had anyone to aim his crosses towards.
Get your coat son
Aaron Ramsey had a shocker, giving the ball away repeatedly when his side desperately needed him to seize control of a midfield area that was dominated by Fabregas.
Yet Wenger must shoulder the majority of the blame. Not for taking off Giroud, but for his stubborn refusal to change formation so that Theo Walcott – or Campbell – or Alexis Sanchez – could play as a striker. How exactly did he expect his side to score?
We’re clutching at straws here… but at least we didn’t have to witness Jose Mourinho celebrating Chelsea’s victory.