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Arsenal expose flaws in Chelsea’s game-plan

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The Chelsea-Arsenal games this season were always going to be more important than Arsenal-United or Chelsea-United.

Not because those are the top two teams – no.

But because while United could still win the title if they lost to Chelsea, Chelsea would find it very hard to gain ground on United if they lost points to Arsenal.

The last thing Chelsea need on their backs is an Arsenal team that thinks they have a chance to win the title. As things stand, Arsenal are 18 points behind United and all but out of the title race, but they are 10 points behind Chelsea and look like the team most likely to catch up if Chelsea slip.

Chelsea – plodding and limited

Since August people have blasted Chelsea for being plodding and slow and relying on force rather than speed to win games. Andriy Shevchenko has had almost 4 months of straight playing time in the Chelsea starting 11 but he hasn’t helped Chelsea. Adding Robben or Joe Cole in his place would totally change Chelsea’s style of play and give them the guile and pace they need.

The only reason Chelsea ended up as group winners in the Champions League and are comfortably 2nd in the Premiership is thanks to their amazing never-say-die spirit. They showed it against Manchester United at Old Trafford, they showed it at the Nou Camp against Barcelona and they showed it at Stamford Bridge against Arsenal.

This team will die before they accept defeat, and you can’t ask anything more from your team than that.

Arsenal are a big-match team

Arsenal rose to the occasion, much like they had risen to it against Manchester United at Old Trafford. They were outmuscled and outgunned, but they battled and the credit has to go to Wenger’s general on the pitch, Gilberto Silva. That man plays like a king when he’s given the responsibility and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is in the middle of a spate of Arsenal wins in the coming month.

Flamini and Hleb had really good games as well. I told Rocky he was nuts to talk up Hleb before, but he really has turned his game up a notch this season and looks in good form.

Despite the 5-man midfield they didnt really have too much width, and that could have been because they had a central midfielder (Hleb) and a striker (van Persie) playing in the wide positions. What difference Walcott could have made instead of Ljunberg…

Match Incidents

Senderos pulled down Drogba – should have been a penalty.

Cole’s tackle on Hleb that wasn’t given a foul – led to the Essien goal, but to be honest that does not take away from the quality of Essien’s strike.

The clash between Drogba and Lehmann was comical and pathetic.

Drogba and Eboue went down easily, but you expect that from them.

Chelsea fans would have been left thinking that if Cech (or even Cudicini) had been there, Flamini’s shot could have been parried away.

What really matters

Manchester United are now 18 points ahead of Arsenal (6th), 16 ahead of Portsmouth (3rd) and 8 ahead of Chelsea (2nd). I would have preferred an Arsenal win but I couldn’t muster the strength to support Arsenal during the game – a draw was the fair result, and fortunately that means we have an advantage (as well as the much-needed rest) going into the next set of games.

Come 1st January (Monday), we’ll have a much clearer picture of who’ll win the title.

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Ahmed Bilal created Sportslens in 2006. He is a business consultant and entrepreneur who helps businesses identify and overcome their biggest challenges. He’s also the founder of Football Media, an online advertising agency that specialises in sports and male audience targeting, with a monthly reach of 100m+ sports fans in the UK and US. He’s also the previous owner of Soccerlens.com – a sports news site that reaches 3m+ readers / month.