Jose Mourinho’s streak of staying unbeaten against the man he once famously described as a voyeur continued Monday night as a 0-0 stalemate occurred at the Emirates Stadium.
The contrast of how both teams play along with the rain affecting the pitch was further evidence to display that if Arsène Wenger truly cares about winning the Premier League again, then an elite striker needs to be purchased either during the January transfer window or in the summer.
Mourinho chose a more defensive squad by having midfielders Frank Lampard, John Obi Mikel and Ramires together in his midfield. When Arsenal had possession in the final third, they struggled to create chances due to Chelsea clogging lanes to prevent through-balls and not allowing the Gunners to create their triangles by having as many as eight players around the box. Mourinho has always played Arsenal the same way; by using pragmatic football, rescinding possession, and counterattacking quickly to create opportunities. There is no need to change the strategy if it has been successful through 10 matches in nine years. Wenger on the other hand is too intelligent to ignore this oversight but refuses to tactically change his approach against the Portuguese manager.
Olivier Giroud had two opportunities late in the match to put his side up but failed miserably and looked the opposite of Chelsea legend and current Galatasaray striker Didier Drogba. Drogba was the Achilles heel of Arsenal by scoring 13 times in 14 matches against the North London rivals but Giroud wasted a chance in the 79th minute from a great pass from Aaron Ramsey. Further along in the 86th minute, a cross from Kieran Gibbs was also misplaced by the Frenchman and resulted in a corner kick. Against a Mourinho-led Chelsea, Arsenal do not get multiple times to score. And in those chances, a high quality player is supposed to finish. This is what is currently lacking from the Gunners and why they have struggled even more to compete for trophies since Thierry Henry departed to Barcelona in 2007. Giroud is by no means a bad player. In fact he is very good, scoring seven goals and assisting four more in 17 appearances this year in the Premier League, but he lacks the quality to be a match-winner and is depended on too much by his side due to a lack of talent at his position.
Wenger claims that Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski being healthy again can cure the issue, but in his 4-2-3-1 formation, they lack the size and strength to play alone up top. In the summer when speculation spread on Arsenal bidding £40,000,001 for Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, Giroud talked to the Daily Mirror about the ambition of the squad. “The club has to show the fans that we want it. Me and my teammates, we need it as well. It’s all about the team. It will be a really positive thing if we have a new striker.”
Since his suspension, Suarez has scored 19 goals and has five assists in only 12 appearances in the Premier League while receiving a new deal worth £200,000 a week. Arsenal never got a top class striker (Yaya Sanogo does not fall into this category) and it has remained a hindrance to their team goals. With the window opening up next week, Wenger should be more serious about inquiring for a top shelf striker or the cycle of losing your best players due to team success and a higher salary will continue to occur.
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