Well, the biggest thing I would take out of yesterdays game was that we learned from the game against Juventus. Stoke was not a game where we would find anything out about the club, but Arsenal, with players such as Walcott, Chamberlain and Gervinho had the same qualities that saw Juve get in behind our defence on far too many occasions. Our back four consists of Terry and Ivanovic, who are two great defenders but are not very quick. Against Juve we were found out by trying to play too high up the pitch, and we lost a game that we could very well have won. Yesterday was a perfect example of how to play to the back four's strengths. Ashley Cole has pace, skill and is pretty much everything you want from a Left Back, but Terry is at his best when he can see the whole game in front of him. When he can read what's going on and adjust accordingly. Ivanovic one on one against Gervinho in a foot race won't end well, but Ivanovic is a very clever footballer, and we played to that. So my initial thoughts were well done to Robbie for setting out a defence that had the capability to keep a clean sheet. The second thing Di Matteo did very well which hasn't been picked up on, is that he sent Oscar out to do a job on Arteta. In the post match interview on Sky Sports, he mentions this and it ws a very good plan. We were effectively playing a 4-3-3 or even a 4-5-1 with the discipline that Mata and Hazard played with. Oscar was again superb at tracking Arteta, and effectively nullified him. The lad said he would take a month to settle but he has now produced 2 brilliant displays to stop Mikel Arteta and Andrea Pirlo in quick succession. He also produced that mouthwatering goal, and we could be looking at something a little bit special.
I may get a bit of stick for my next comments, but I actually felt yesterday we witnessed Hazard and Mata's worst game for Chelsea this season. Before you get the pitchforks out, let me explain myself. They were brilliant. The amount of work they put in was incredible (this was slightly more Mata than Hazard, as we were being over-run at times on the right hand side, and I felt it was the only way Arsenal would score) but they ran themselves into the ground. And for that, they did have a wonderful game. The reason I felt they were poor was actually because they didn't quite get things right in the Arsenal final third. Mata gave the ball away 7 or 8 times which is something he would never normally do. Hazard was being slightly too deft and cute at times, but they are both that sort of player. What I am trying to say is we managed to beat Arsenal with only really Torres providing a threat going forward. Mata and Hazard both played very well, but we have grown accustomed to them being slightly more clinical in the final third, and I felt if they were then we could have cut Arsenal to ribbons.
So to clarify, they did play very well, defensively, but that final ball or the end product yesterday wasn't quite there. I think this is great, because I would love to see what they can do if they have a very good game in attack. I know what you will say, Mata put in 2 pin point perfect crosses, and won us the game, and I completely agree. But I would like to think if you asked him how he felt about his ball retention in the final third, especially in the second half he would probably say it was poor. I only say this because he is such a good footballer, that he is capable of playing that well for the team AND producing that little bit of magic.
Torres. Well, I was all but certain that he was going to give the Arsenal back four a comfortable time of it. He has certainly gotten better over the past 2 months, but is he the man we need to lead us to the title? Well, based on that insanely well taken goal, maybe yes is the answer. When it got to stoppage time, that was the Torres I want to see. He was harassing the Arsenal defenders and making their lives a misery. Now fair enough, he can't do that all game, but that just made me think, good man. Your really earning your money this week. your going to have a rest in less than 2 minutes time, so well done for going 100% until the final whistle. Good Lad. In my opinion that was probably one of his best games for us, and strangely, I think I've said that 2 or 3 times this season, so well done Nando, long may it continue!!
Overall i think the biggest praise should go to Robbie. He set the team out perfectly, and made every Arsenal player look average (maybe with the exception of Chaimberlain) and he keeps doing that. The goals we have conceded this season have been pretty good goals, with the Cech mistake against Reading aside. We aren't conceding on the break this year (which infuriated me under Carlo) and apart from the Atletico game, we have looked a lot better at the back. Arsenal were going to have to score yesterday from something pretty special, or out of the blue. When you drop points because of a wonder goal, then you're organizing the defence pretty well.