Last night a match report saved my life.

It actually just saved me from a night of ridicule from my Chelsea supporting friends, but what’s a bit of hyperbole between Arsenal fans. In the wake of Arsenal’s week long reality check I have discovered the therapeutic nature of writing match reports. There’s nothing quite like lambasting Arsenal’s inadequacies in print to help soothe a pre loss hangover.

If there is a silver lining to take from the defeat then it would be the prolonged periods of possession that Arsenal enjoyed throughout the game, and particularly in the second half. Even then though you would need to ask why this pressure wasn’t converted into goals. The absence of Robin Van Persie has certainly been felt in a big way, but any squad looking to challenge for major honours can’t afford to rely so heavily on one man.

Andrei Arshavin was culpable, just as he was at the Emirates last week, of profligacy in the early stages  as he guided a shot into the legs of Petr Cech after Cesc Fabregas’ searching ball.The miss was typical of Arsenal’s recent woes (they have scored just once in three games), and inspired Chelsea into action. Didier Drogba, who has scored a formidable 12 goals in just 12 games against the Gunners, took just eight minutes to remind the travelling fans of his threat. Evading the attention of fellow African Alex Song, the Ivorian guided John Terry’s header into the net to give the home side a lead that, despite periods of Arsenal dominance, they never looked like relinquishing.

It was a cruel yet inevitable blow for Arsene Wenger’s side, and left them vulnerable to the counter attack as they spent the remainder of the game trying to reduce the deficit. The match was full of worrying comparisons with last weeks United game, and none were more concerning than the ease with which Drogba put the game beyond doubt. As Chelsea countered, Gael Clichy inexplicably neglected to mark the striker and before you could say ‘two horse race’, the scourge of Arsenal had struck a powerful shot past Manuel Almunia and into the hearts of those in red and white camped behind the goal. At this point I imagine those travelling supporters would’ve accepted a 2-0 result and scuttled back to North London and third place.

What followed was reminiscent of both last weeks encounter with United and the meeting with Chelsea earlier in the season. Arsenal monopolised possession of the football in the second half, but did very little with it. The introduction of Nicklas Bendtner caused the Chelsea defence more problems than the aerially challenged trio of Nasri, Arshavin and Walcott combined, and almost brought about a goal. The Dane bullied Ivanovic before being fouled by Carvalho, and only a fine save from Petr Cech prevented Cesc Fabregas from converting the resultant free kick and setting up an exciting finish.

Watching Bentdner trip himself up just minutes later it occurred to me that being an Arsenal   fan in recent years was like watching a dog chasing its tail. No matter how much you will them to succeed, and regardless of how close they come to success, you know deep down that it’ll end in disappoint. With Liverpool visiting the Emirates on Wednesday, and now just five points behind, Arsenal will need to show a little less bark and a little more bite if they are to consolidate their grip on third place.


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