Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Giroud's miss costly as fine margins show we need a world-class striker

Morning Gooners.

I think in the cold light of day, a point isn't a bad result for either teams. I think that we wanted to win it more than Chelsea did and they stifled us for the majority of the game. The one huge opportunity we did have that fell to Olivier Giroud we couldn't take. And it was these fine margins against the top teams we are working with.

After shipping six goals against Manchester City and two against Napoli, I think it was important for us to find our strong defensive basis again. The manager was forced due to Laurent Koscienly's injury to make two changes to his defence, with captain Thomas Vermaelen returning in place of the Frenchman and Kieran Gibbs being preferred to Nacho Monreal.

Mikel Arteta was preferred to Mathieu Flamini alongside Aaron Ramsey and with the Spaniard playing the deepest midfield role, the manager knew he had a player who would sit and protect his defence rather than chase the ball down like Flamini likes to do.

I think there were two contentious issues in the first half which both went against us. The first was the challenge on Theo Walcott in the box by Willian. Quite why Mike Dean didn't give it is beyond me. The Chelsea player doesn't touch the ball but brings Walcott to the floor in the box. Foul. Penalty. No excuse. But then this is Mike Dean we're talking about.

The second was the Mikel "tackle" on Arteta. In his post match interview with Sky, the Spaniard wouldn't give his opinion on whether he thought it was a red card only saying that his ankle was swollen from the incident. I think that's all he needed to say  Mikel got no where near the ball and took the player out. Again, Dean didn't even see the challenge as a yellow card.

Chelsea had the better of the chances because we didn't create any which produced a shot on goal during the first half. Mertesacker was again out standing last night and had Torres in his back pocket all night. The Spaniard hardly had a sniff of anything.

I thought we were better in the second half. We dominated the game and Chelsea only looked dangerous on the counter attack. But we found it difficult with the way Mourinho set his side up to get our most creative players in Mesut Ozil and Tomas Rosicky involved.

Before the game I saw the Ozil/Walcott axis as being our most important link. However the German was only able to find the Englishman three times and only one of those passes was in the final third.

For the standards he's set himself this season, I though Aaron Ramsey didn't have his best 45 minutes in the first half, sloppily giving away possession. But after the break he seemed more composed on the ball. Another player who put in a good shift was Thomas Vermaelen who was very solid in defence.

Our best and only chance fell to Giroud 11 minutes from time. The Frenchman seemed to have only to hit his shot inside the left hand post and it would have surely beaten Cech. But it's these little moments in big games where the handsome Frenchman hasn't found the top quality we need to make the difference.

And it's fine margins which mean that we drew this game, now sitting in second place (joint top) with Liverpool having a better goal difference than us.

A point is better than none. But we have to get back to winning ways. We need to get out ahead of our rivals now. We've got three more huge games to play before we face Tottenham in the FA Cup. We cannot afford to lose any more ground in the hunt for the league title.

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