I don’t want to frighten anyone, but here’s a fact: Drogba has scored 10 goals in 11 matches and has never lost to Arsenal. Drogba will be in the Chelsea side on Sunday (baring an injury against Hull) and after watching Man U go through the motions against Arsenal, will be, frankly, licking his lips at the prospect of playing us.
Certainly the argument can be made that Arsene Wenger strengthened the squad in exactly the two areas that Drogba has traditionally exploited. Based on their performances this year, many fans will be hoping that Song and Vermaelen can keep Drogba quiet. But, you’ll also remember that they failed utterly to do so back in November when Drogba scored two and forced the own goal from Vermaelen and the early substitution of Song.
It was a complete schooling of the Arsenal boys last time out. Chelsea, like Man U on Sunday, have watched the tapes and know how to get at Arsenal; let them play pretty football, wait for the Arsenal side to push all 10 men up the pitch and counter attack down one of the two wings getting at the soft underbelly of Arsenal’s exposed full-backs.
Cesc is saying all the right things about changing the attitude of the team and to a certain extent he’s right, if Arsenal allow players like Denilson to perform as they did against Man U on Sunday they will be utterly dismantled by Chelsea. Make no mistake, mental steel will be needed so it’s good to see the Captain encouraging his team to fight.
As Arseblogger pointed out today, one of the things that has been lacking is a real fighting spirit all over the pitch. The 4-3-3 formation only works when the front 3 players dog and harass the opponents and try to win the ball back. The team will have had a whole week’s rest, so there should be no excuses for not coming out and giving a lung bursting performance. Moreover, there are plenty of healthy subs on the bench now and they should be called upon to add some real desire to the team should we end up with passengers like we did on Sunday.
But while the attitude of the team needs to be at a high, high level to beat Chelsea at the Bridge I also think that Wenger needs to take a long, hard look at the predictability of this team’s tactics. With Arshavin up front as the “center forward” we seem to be playing less a 4-3-3 than a 4-5-1 and that’s not suiting anyone. Teams simply wait while we pass the ball around, not threatening, and then inevitably one of the full-backs will bomb down one of the wings and put in a ballooning cross that is easily dealt with by the defense. I’m not sure if switching to a 4-4-2 is the right answer, if simply getting the fullbacks to put in crosses on the ground is the right answer, or really if the right answer is simply not to allow them to get that far forward on every play and instead rely on some midfield wing play.
That’s not my job, I’m just a blogger, not the manager of Arsenal Football Club. Wenger needs to sort that out. But when every single blog, podcast, and pundit is pointing out that the Arsenal’s tactics have become stale and predictable then maybe, just maybe something needs to be done.
I’m not saying that Arsenal can’t beat Chelsea on Sunday, I would never say that. This Arsenal side is prodigiously talented and on their day can beat anyone. Rather, I’d say that Arsenal need to really shake things up and that these players, who Wenger has put so much faith in, need to repay him with the performance of the season. If they do that, it’s possible that we could get a result and push on to possibly win something.