Some thoughts on Chelsea and Mesut Ozil

Shad Forscythe

Another match away to a top team, another defeat. A few days have passed since events at Stamford Bridge but it doesn’t feel any better. I’m not exactly OptaJames, but I believe I’m right in saying we haven’t beaten a good team for more than a million years.

I’m not inclined to dwell on refereeing decisions. It seemed to me that the incompetence of this particular official extended to both teams. Gary Cahill should undoubtedly have been sent off, but so too should Danny Welbeck. Arsenal might well have had a penalty, but arguably Laurent Koscielny should have been dismissed for conceding the spot-kick that was given.

I’ll run through some thoughts now. To avoid repeating myself, I’ll link to a couple of a pieces I’ve published elsewhere too.

The primary difference was that their stars delivered…

Although we didn’t get any points, we did see some progress. Arsenal were more compact, more combative, and stayed in the game for much longer than last season. Admittedly, that’s not difficult. I don’t know about you, but I was watching the game in 5 minute increments, delighted as each segment passed without the concession of a goal. Mathieu Flamini was particularly good, hurling himself in to tackles and generally making a nuisance of himself.

Ultimately though, the game was decided by two moments of attacking brilliance. The first was that superb slalom from Eden Hazard. The second comprised of two pieces of play of outstanding quality: a lofted pass from Cesc Fabregas, and an emphatically efficient demonstration of control and finishing from Diego Costa.

Mesut Ozil, on the other hand…

…was desperately disappointing against Chelsea. As ever, many leapt to his defence, but I thought he was undeniably poor. During the latest episode of the Arsecast Extra, I described him as being a bit like modern art: people keep telling me I should see things there that I can’t quite make out.

Arsenal Player Ratings vs. Chelsea | ESPN

Mesut Ozil, 4 – It’s difficult to understand just how Ozil managed to avoid being substituted against Chelsea. Deployed on the right flank, he was woeful. Not only was his passing shockingly erratic, but he seemed to shrink in the face of Chelsea’s physical approach. He must toughen up if he is to influence these big games.

Anyhow, it seems his form is no longer of any great concern. As I sat down to finish off this piece, the news broke that Ozil could miss as many as three months with a ligament problem.

Many will tell you it’s a blessing in disguise. I think that’s a bit strong – you never want to lose your most talented players for a prolonged period. However, Arsene has struggled to find a way to fit Ozil, Wilshere, Cazorla and Alexis in to the same XI. Perhaps the German’s absence will simplify the task of arranging his midfield, at least until January.

In these big games, the first goal is so crucial…

Arsenal somehow need to find a way to get the first goal in big games on a more regular basis. Having taken the lead, Chelsea were able to execute their preferred game-plan to perfection, sitting deep before picking up on the break.

In Alexis and Welbeck, we have players who offer a real threat on the counter. Had Chelsea been forced to come out in search of a goal, we might have been able to exploit the space in behind. As it was, we found ourselves banging against a blue wall.

According to Orbinho, The last time Arsenal came from behind to beat a top four team was against Liverpool in March 2012. Since then, there have been 20 such fixtures played. In each of Arsenal’s three wins, the Gunners got the first goal. The big teams simply don’t let leads slip. You can’t afford to give them a headstart.

On Wenger vs. Mourinho | The Mirror

Time after time, Mourinho’s pragmatism has overcome Wenger’s purism. The Frenchman is gripped by footballing ideals that define his tactical philosophy. Mourinho does not seem burdened by the same romanticism.

Wenger is known as “The Professor”, but can’t shake his artistic tendencies. In reality, it is Mourinho who is the clinical scientist.

Fore an audio dissection of the match and Arsenal’s start to the season, check out the live edition of the Arsecast Extra.

Gunnerblog is the brainchild of childbrained football writer James McNicholas. Aside from Gunnerblog, James currently contributes to Bleacher Report, The Mirror and ESPN.


  1. Barnaby Plankton   •  

    Can someone answer this question.

    What exactly is the point of Shad Forsythe and the Arsenal medical team?

    Really, I don’t think Arsenal would be any worse off if they fired the lot of them and replaced them with a bunch of traffic cones.

    Absolutely f**king useless..

  2. MOSES GENTI   •  

    I knows arsenal can not win that game with blues

  3. SBR_1962   •  

    I see this very differently from the other commentors.

    To compare the Cahill and Welbeck challenges is an obvious false equivalency, especially when in context. Yes, both were clear red card offenses, but Cahill’s occurred in the early going of a 0-0 match, while Welbeck’s was near the conclusion of a 2-0. I normally wouldn’t want to dwell on the refereeing, either, but a few poor decisions almost certainly affected the outcome of this match. Not only should Cahill have been off early on, but the yellow against Chambers was a joke. Go back and look at it. Hazard moves away from the ball and initiates contact by stepping across Chambers.

    One cannot know what would have followed had neither of these calls been properly made, but I would bet anything that Chambers would not have allowed Hazard to waltz into the penalty area before the penalty had he not been on a yellow, in which case, the Koscielny foul would likely have never happened, either.

    There’s no way to know any of this, now, but as disappointed as I am in the result, I can’t fault the effort of the Arsenal players or the manager’s tactics. We went toe-to-toe against the presumed league champions, and might well have taken the three points but for those dodgy early calls by Atkinson.

    I will give you that had either Alexis or Wilshere been able to control the ball when through on goal in the first half as well as Costa did to kill the match, the outcome might have been very different.

    • Easy tiger   •  

      I have to agree With you in the referee in that game. As you said the Cahill red was very early at 0-0 so that would have changed the game. Also when the ref gives Chambers a yellow 1 min after he gave Cahill a yellow for a leg breaker, the referee tells us that Chelsea can fuck you up all they want, but if you do anything at all i will book you. The ref was very very poor, every single big Call got Chelsea all over it, same With the handball from Cesc.

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