Mathieu Flamini

Arsenal must toughen up to become a top side again

As a result of their 2-0 loss away to Chelsea on Sunday, Arsenal have now gone 14 games without being able to defeat a side in the previous season’s top four.

Eden Hazard and Diego Costa provided the goals while the away side did not even fashion a shot on target at Stamford Bridge.

Arsenal have been bullied by the top sides in recent seasons. Chelsea have notched eight goals and conceded none in the last two meetings between the sides, Liverpool romped to a 5-1 win at Anfield last season, Manchester City won 6-3 at the Etihad and even David Moyes’ under performing Manchester United side took four points off their old adversary in the 2013/14 campaign.

Many suggest the reason behind this is that Arsenal get out-thought in midfield, esteemed pundit Gary Neville labelled them “confused” after their 3-0 loss away at Everton in April.

“Arsenal become so confused by it, if you’re going to defend in a four-four-two system you need legs and you need discipline, everything this Arsenal team didn’t have.

“They don’t understand how to defend a cross, they don’t understand the fact that when a left sided player goes across to the left side, the midfield player comes across.

“This is why Arsenal will never move forwards playing attacking players with attacking mindsets”

The likes of Patrick Vieira, Ray Parlour and Gilberto Silva who were all so prominent in the 2003/04 “Invincibles” side are long gone and have been replaced by a new brand of midfielder who play a with a delicate passing style.

Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini are the three players most likely to provide bite in the middle but Wilshere is too often sidelined and it is no secret that Wenger is looking for a new defensive midfielder.

Happier times: Arsenal haven't quite been the same since Viera's departure.

Happier times: Arsenal haven’t quite been the same since Viera’s departure.

Sami Khedira and William Carvalho were both heavily linked to a move to the Emirates but neither signed on the dotted line at the North London club.

Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United have all added top class defensive midfield players in the shape of Nemanja Matic, Fernando and Daley Blind respectively.

Arsene Wenger’s outfit are already nine points behind the league leaders only seven games in, only two of which have been won along with four draws.

Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal

Chelsea ended a high tempered London derby triumphant over Arsenal, winning 2-0 at Stamford Bridge thanks to goals from Eden Hazard and Diego Costa.

Costa sealed the three points 12 minutes before the end when he lobbed Wojciech Szczesny after being set up by a delicious Cesc Fabregas pass that beat the Arsenal defence all ends up.

Hazard opened the scoring for the West Londoners when his run where he dribbled past three despairing defenders culminated in Laurent Koscielny bringing down the Belgian in the box and the defender maybe should have been shown his marching orders.

23-year-old Hazard stepped up himself and slotted it past Szczesny with 27 minutes played.

Events off the pitch were the main talking points of the first half however with managers Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger engaging in a touchline spat as a result of a crunching Gary Cahill challenge on Alexis Sanchez.

Wenger was of the opinion Cahill should have seen red for his foul and, after some wind up tactics from his adversary Mourinho, pushed the Portuguese coach in the chest.

Calum Chambers was arguably fortunate to stay on the pitch as well, not picking up a second yellow card for pulling down Andre Schurrle.

Eden Hazard opens the scoring from the spot.

Eden Hazard opens the scoring from the spot.

Arsenal also had reason to feel adjudged by referee Martin Atkinson when Jack Wilshere’s shot was blocked by the hand of ex Gunner Fabregas.

Chelsea were worthy winners but an early injury to Thibaut Courtois provided a minor bleak point to their victory. He was replaced by Petr Cech 24 minutes in.

Chelsea: Courtois (Cech ’24) Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Matic, Fabregas, Schurrle (Mikel ’69), Oscar (Willian ’87), Hazard, Diego Costa

Subs not used: Zouma, Filipe Luis, Salah, Remy

Arsenal: Szczesny, Chambers, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Wilshere (Rosicky ’83), Flamini, Cazorla (Oxlade-Chamberlain ’69), Ozil, Alexis, Welbeck

Subs not used: Martinez, Monreal, Coquelin, Campbell, Podolski

Arsenal 2-2 Manchester City

Title contenders Arsenal and Manchester City battled to a 2-2 draw at the Emirates stadium, three of the four goals coming in the second half.

Sergio Aguero gave Manchester City the lead 28 minutes into the game when he arrived on the edge of the six yard box to nip in and score from Jesus Navas’ pass.

Nacho Monreal, who kept his place despite Kieran Gibbs’ return from injury was at fault as Navas was given acres of space on the right hand side.

Jack Wilshere tied the game up just after the hour, providing the finishing touch to a typical Arsenal build up of neat passing play. Wilshere gilded past Gael Clichy and dinked the ball over Joe Hart after a one-two with Aaron Ramsey.

Alexis Sanchez completed the second half turnaround 16 minutes before the end, superbly volleying in a Wilshere header after Ramsey’s cross wasn’t dealt with efficiently enough by Vincent Kompany.

Martin Demichelis ensured City went back to Manchester with a share of the spoils however when he headed home a corner seven minutes from time, being left unmarked by the Arsenal defence.

Jack the lad: Wilshere equalizes for Arsenal

Jack the lad: Wilshere equalizes for Arsenal

 

Manchester City had chances to win the game in the closing stages, putting the Gunners under the pressure with a late flurry and even had the ball in the back of the net, but Samir Nasri was offside.

Their best opportunity however was shortly after their opener but David Silva’s effort was well kept out by Wojciech Szczesny but in reality, the Spaniard should have put his side further ahead.

Arsene Wenger will be happy that his side picked up a point today as Arsenal’s record against the top four was poor last season but a late injury to Mathieu Debuchy could be a severe one and it will have left a sour taste in the mouth of his manager.

Debuatant Danny Welbeck was also replaced on 88 minutes due to injury.

Arsenal: Szczesny, Debuchy (Chambers ’81), Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Flamini (Arteta ’90), Wilshere, Ramsey, Alexis, Ozil, Welbeck (Oxlade-Chamberlain ’88)

Subs not used: Ospina, Gibbs, Cazorla, Podolski

Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy, Fernandinho (Kolarov ’77), Lampard (Nasri ’45), Navas, Silva, Milner, Aguero (Dzeko ’67)

Subs not used: Caballero, Sagna, Mangala, Sinclair

Arsenal 1-0 Besiktas

Arsenal booked their place in the Group Stages of the Champions League for the 17th season in a row with 1-0 win over Besiktas thanks Alexis Sanchez’s first goal for his new club.

The £35 million signing from Barcelona netted with a first time finish in first half stoppage time that in truth should have been saved by Tolga Zengin in the Besiktas goal.

A neat little one-two between Jack Wilshere and Mesut Ozil ended up at the feet of Sanchez who had the simple task of scoring his first goal in Arsenal colours.

It could be a confidence booster for the marquee addition who has been somewhat disappointing in England in the early stages of this season.

He should have grabbed a second though when Wilshere played him with a disguised pass in early in his second half but the Chilean’s shot was deflected out for a corner.

Sanchez Strikes: Alexis sends Arsenal through to the Group Stages.

Sanchez Strikes: Alexis sends Arsenal through to the Group Stages.

Besiktas had a major penalty shout in the first half when a slip from Wilshere caused Ramon Motta to go down in the box before he had the chance to unleash a shot on goal but referee Pedro Proenca waved play on.

A nervy game burst into life with 15 minutes remaining as Arsenal looked to seal the tie, first Santi Cazorla somehow failed to convert from a two on one situation and then Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain fired straight at Zengin from six yards following Monreal’s cross.

Soon after Mathieu Debuchy was dismissed for a second bookable offence and then substitute Calum Chambers was bizarrely booked for entering the field of play before instructed by Proenca.

Debuchy will now miss the opening group game for the Gunners due to his suspension.

Card happy Proenca dished out nine yellows in total (two to Debuchy) in what was a hot tempered clash at the Emirates.

Arsenal meanwhile await the group stage draw which is made tomorrow at 16:45 BST.

Arsenal: Szczesny, Debuchy, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Flamini, Cazorla, Ozil (Chambers ’77), Alexis

Subs not used: Martinez, Coquelin, Rosicky, Podolski, Campbell, Sanogo

Besiktas: Zengin, Koybasi, Franco, Gulum, Motta, Hutchinson, Kavlak (Uysal ’77), Pektemek, Ozyakup, Sahan (Tore ’63), Ba

Subs not used: Gonen, Kertulus, Sivok, Frei, Tosun

Besiktas 0-0 Arsenal

Arsenal were held to a 0-0 draw in an intimidating Ataturk stadium and have been left with a job to do next week in London which Aaron Ramsey will miss due to his red card.

The energetic Welshman, 23, was given his marching orders ten minutes from time when he tripped Oğuzhan Ozyakup which warranted his second yellow card.

Besiktas began the game with a bang when Demba Ba rattled the bar in the first few seconds, letting fly from the half way line that caused Wojciech Szczesny more worries than it perhaps should have done.

Ba came close again soon after but his volley was well kept out as Arsenal found themselves on the back foot early on.

Olivier Giroud failed to inspire in an Arsenal shirt again, his worst offense being unable to get the ball out from under his feet when under pressure from a defender from point blank range on goal.

Soon after the French forward found himself on a two-on-one situation but his attempted pass to a colleague was easily cut out.

Jack Wilshere had an effort of his own but his tame curler from the edge of the box was gathered well by Tolga Zengin.

It was former Arsenal loan target Ba who looked most dangerous though, some jinking footwork on the edge of the box set him up well but he dragged his shot wide.

Slavan Bilic’s side started the second half as they ended his first, Olcay Sahan curled an effort narrowly past the post though.

Substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain produced the best chance of the encounter with two minutes left but he could only hit the post with his attempt.

Arsenal though were largely pedestrian in the Turkish capital, failing to create any real clear cut opportunities and must improve next week if they are to reach the Champions League group stages for the 15th time in succession.

 

Besiktas: Zengin, Koybasi, Motta, Gulum, Franco, Sahan (Tore ’73), Kavlak, Uysal, Ozyakup (Koyunlu ’81), Pektemek (Tosun ’88), Ba

Subs not used: Gonen, Kurtulus, Sivok, Boral

Arsenal: Szczesny, Debuchy, Chambers, Koscielny, Monreal, Arteta (Flamini ’50), Wilshere, Ramsey, Alexis (Oxlade-Chamberlain ’72), Cazorla (Rosicky ’90), Giroud

Subs not used: Martinez, Bellerin, Miquel, Campbell

Community Shield report: Arsenal 3-0 Manchester City

Arsenal became the first FA Cup holders to win the traditional curtain raiser that is the Community Shield since Chelsea in 2009 with a 3-0 win over Premier League Champions Manchester City. Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud provided the goals at Wembley.

Cazorla opened the scoring with 21 minutes on the clock when he nestled in a left foot from the edge of the box after advantage was played following Drederick Boyata’s foul on Jack Wilshere.

Spain International Cazorla, 29, scored Arsenal’s first goal in May’s FA Cup final and now has another Wembley goal to his collection.

The scorer of the winning FA Cup goal, Aaron Ramsey, doubled their lead three minutes before half time when he drilled in a shot from six yards past Willy Cabellero after a nice touch away from Matija Nastastic. Yaya Sanogo’s hold up play against Boyata was exemplary as he set up Ramsey.

Super Santi: Cazorla opens the scoring at Wembley

Super Santi: Cazorla opens the scoring at Wembley

Half time substitute Olivier Giroud made sure of the victory  on the hour mark with a long range strike that deflected off Nastasic and dipped over the despairing debutant Caballero.

Manchester City were limited to chances in the first half with the centre back pairing of Calum Chambers and Laurent Koscielny not allowing any direct shots on the Arsenal goal.

Mathieu Debuchy was less impressive however with City regularly having joy down the left flank, most notably when Alexandar Kolarov broke clear of Debuchy but his squared pass was just behind the on rushing Samir Nasri to trouble Wojciech Szczesny.

Things barely improved in the second 45, only Stefan Jovetic came relatively close when his shot was palmed away by Szczesny 56 minutes in.

Arsenal: Szczesny, Debuchy, Koscielny (Monreal ’45), Chambers, Gibbs, Arteta, Wilshere (Flamini ’68), Ramsey (Campbell ’85), Alexis (Oxlade-Chamberlain ’45), Cazorla (Rosicky ’70), Sanogo (Giroud ’45)

Subs not used: Martinez

Manchester City: Caballero, Clichy, Boyata, Nastasic, Kolarov (Richards ’76), Navas (Sinclair ’85), Fernando, Toure (Zuculini ’60), Nasri (Silva ’45), Jovetic, Dzeko (Milner ’60)

Subs not used: Hart, Rekik

Man of the match: Olivier Giroud