By Walter Broeckx
One change at the start and that was Mesut Özil back in the team and Oxlade-Chamberlain went back to the bench.
At that bench we saw for the first time after a few months Alexis next to Mohamed Elneny.
Team at the start: Cech, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Ramsey, Flamini, Campbell, Ozil, Walcott, Giroud.
On the bench: Ospina, Gibbs, Gabriel, Chambers, Elneny, Oxlade-Chamberlain,Alexis
Oscar with a low shot but for the rest a quiet opening from both teams with in the opening minutes. Flamini with a first chance but he completely missed his shot. At the other end William with two chances but straight at Cech so no score after 15 minutes.
Costa then sent through and Per Mertesacker could only bring him down as the last defender. A red card as Koscielny was some 5 meters behind so no real argument there.
Wenger took off Giroud and brought on Gabriel but before he got in to the match Ivanovic sent in a low cross and Costa first on the ball to push it over the line. 0-1 for Chelsea after 22 minutes. And that with a man down against Chelsea. Again.
Monreal with a good pass to Theo who just missed but he was offside. A bit later Theo again just offside but he couldn’t control the ball. Costa with a run but a good save from Cech. Monreal heading the ball from the line from the corner. And in the last second of the first half a cross from Ramsey to Flamini but again the wrong man at the wrong place and his attempt went well over the bar. 0-1 for Chelsea after 45 minutes.
Again a red card against Chelsea and Arsenal again having to fight against 11 players with 10 man. Not that the red card wasn’t correct but it is getting a bit frustrating to never being able to play a normal match against Chelsea.
Flamini getting a yellow card but it was more Fabregas twisting his ankle than a real foul. Arsenal trying to play forward but not carving out any chances in the opening minutes of the second half. Then Chelsea get few corners but nothing comes from them. Fabregas runs in against Koscielny looking for a penalty but Clattenburg sees nothing wrong.
Alexis then comes on after 56 minutes in the place of Campbell. Matic brings him down on his first run and goes in the book of the ref. Still 0-1 after 60 minutes.
A free kick from Özil leads to Arsenal having 3 chances to have a shot but they all are being blocked by defenders. Mikel platning his hand in the face of Alexis escapes with a yellow card. Chelsea playing their beloved counter football tactics against 10 man Arsenal who keep trying to play the ball over the ground. After 73 minutes Oxlade-Chamberlain comes in the place of Theo Walcott.
Arsenal trying but when playing with 10 everything has to be perfect and this wasn’t the case so far. Courtois spilling the ball when coming down after a free kick from Özil but again Arsenal can’t capitalise. Bellerin with a cross that ends up in front of Flamini but again no end product. Monreal with a shooting chance but it went well wide. Arsenal surely getting some half chances but no end product.
Özil losing the ball but Alexis running back to win the ball. Arsenal throwing all they can in to it leaving themselves open to the counter. Arsenal with a corner in the last minute, Cech going forward but not getting near the ball.
Not one ounce luck with a few balls hobbling around in the Chelsea penalty area but let us hope that this is a turning point when it comes to being a bit more lucky.
Arsenal lose and again had to play for more than one hour with 10 man. Arsenal lose for the first time with Flamini in the team. Cech lifting the players up from the ground. No need to feel down when playing with 10 man.
The Chelsea goal came too fast after the red card before Gabriel could settle in the match. And that put the tactics on its head that Wenger was trying to play after that. If we would have held on to a 0-0 Chelsea might have been tempted to go more forward and the Theo could have been lethal. But the goal shortly after the substitution changed the whole perception of the match.
We are still level with Man City, the favourite for the title. And the return of Alexis will bring something extra to the team in the next months.