Arsenal v Chelsea: Five things we learnt from the unequal renewal of an old rivalry
The Emirates Stadium
Tuesday 29 October 2013
1. Bendtner the blunt samurai offers little cut and thrust
Nicklas Bendtner is not the man to release Arsenal from their Giroud-dependence. Or not yet, at least. The prodigal samurai, loping around up front with his hair in a bun, did not look like a credible alternative to, or even a usable replacement for, the in-form Frenchman. His movement was blunt, not once surprising the Chelsea centre-backs, and when the ball came to him his touch was never good enough to make himself some space. He even turned down a great chance to shoot in the second half. Reintegration might take him just a bit longer.
2. Mikel and Essien combine to roll back the years
Jose Mourinho had chosen the midfield combination of Frank Lampard and Ramires for Chelsea’s last five games before this one but there were signs that in Jon Obi Mikel and Michael Essien he has very useful alternatives. These two veterans of the first Mourinho team had only started four games between them before tonight but here they were excellent. Mikel provided discipline and intelligence in front of the defence, stifling Arsenal’s creators, while Essien conjured up some of the old power, bursting through the middle – even if one of his shots did go out for a throw-in. As the season goes on, their experience could be vital.
3. Trophy and conviction deficit set to get wider
Some things just come easier to Chelsea than Arsenal and this game felt like a reminder of that; since Arsène Wenger last won a major trophy, Chelsea have won nine. There was just an assurance about Chelsea from the start – one certainly enhanced by the return of serial winner Mourinho as coach. There is a conviction deficit Arsenal still have to make up.
4. Mourinho has greater fringe benefits to draw on
It might simply be a case of quality – that Chelsea’s reserves are better than Arsenal’s – but those fringe players Mourinho brought into the side certainly outperformed those that Wenger threw in. To take both right-backs, for the first goal: Carl Jenkinson’s weak back-header created the opening which Cesar Azpilicueta – charging forward with conviction – took calmly.
5. Mata makes routine work of the indispensable
It was not a surprise that he played well, but the fact that Chelsea can call on Juan Mata as an occasional starter is still remarkable. Back in the team after two games on the bench, he went about his work with the usual diligence and style, scoring the goal that killed the game. At almost every other team he would be the indispensable man.
Latest in Sport
Liverpool target Marco Reus rejects new Borussia Dortmund contract offer - reports
Arsenal agree new deal with BT Sport - which coincides nicely with advert showing FA Cup win over Liverpool
Divock Origi joins Liverpool before immediately being loaned back to Lille
Scottie dogs in Commonwealth Games opening ceremony 'disrespectful to Muslims', say Malaysian politicians
Arsenal transfer news: Gunners preparing bid for wantaway Shakhtar Donestk midfielder Douglas Costa
- 1 What if 35 Palestinians had died, and 800 Israelis?
- 2 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 3 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 4 'Women should not laugh in public,' says Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister in morality speech
- 5 Ross Burden dead: MasterChef and Ready Steady Cook star dies at age 45 after suffering from cancer
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – Britain as others see us
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc