Arsenal 0-0 Chelsea: Styles Make Fights

I legitimately do not know what to think about this result. On one hand, we have faced down an enemy that has taken points from us again and again in recent memory...on the other hand, we were playing a version of said enemy that was waiting to be beaten, and we ended up watching our manager make zero substitutions on our way towards a dull nil-nil draw.

On one hand, I get Arsene's natural inclination towards a safety-first attitude - with his record against Jose Mourinho and the importance of this fixture, a draw looks fantastic in a vacuum. Of course, a loss would hurt us a hundred times more than a draw ever possibly could. Still, this was not your older brother's Chelsea. Mourinho has always set up his teams to defend to the death and wait for an opportunity on the counter-attack for us to make our customary defensive mistakes. But, our increased solidity in the back plus the absence of Didier Drogba meant that the door has never been more open for us to have beaten these guys.

There's been a lot of talk that the City result was weighing heavily on Arsene's mind, though, and it's probably not far off the mark. It does seem odd in retrospect - we went full-throttle for the win away to City, and played for the draw at home to Chelsea. Reversing that may have resulted in four points instead of one.

It seemed to have made the players skittish as well. Both Gibbs and Vermaelen gifted Chelsea corners from atrocious backpasses, and it seemed that no one could find a teammate with a pass or even control the ball when it came to them. The monsoon conditions surely played a part, but given our improved play in the second half, nerves were absolutely part of the equation as well.

The visitors were better able to play to those conditions though, as they massed two lines of defenders in their own half and dared Arsenal to play their way through them. Credit where it's due - they picked their spots perfectly to counter, and were a bit unlucky to see Frank Lampard's howitzer hit the underside of the bar and bounce away to safety. The Gunners' defense was slashed to ribbons by Eden Hazard's through-ball on that occasion, but otherwise were fairly solid themselves. Chelsea had a few pot-shots at goal but Wojciech Szczesny did well to catch and hold them, despite the pouring rain.

Beyond that, the men in blue offered little than kicking anything that moved. We knew what we were going to get from referee Mike Dean, and the little shit failed to disappoint. While I think he actually got the Theo Walcott penalty decision right (our man went down a little too easily for my liking), his failure to show John Obi Mikel so much as a yellow for his studs-up challenge on Mikel Arteta was astonishing...even by his remarkably low standards.

Our guys were better in the second half, as passes started to find teammates and the pre-match jitters began to dissipate. Sadly, Chelsea continued to defend resolutely, breaking up moves at the last or blocking shots when we made it into the penalty area. As the match went on, they showed less and less of an inclination to attack, but Arsenal just could not break them down.

I do think part of that though is our lack of a killer instinct in matches like this. There was a perfect example of it on a play where Ramires went down injured. I guarantee you, 100 times out of 100 Chelsea or City or United would keep playing in that situation. Instead, Aaron Ramsey played it out into touch. So frustrating.

We did have a chance to steal it at the end, however. Unfortunately, Olivier Giroud looked absolutely knackered by then and could not get a solid connection on the ball when played in by Ramsey. Minutes later he was in again, this time from a Gibbs pass. But, our old friend John Terry was there to deal with it. Bastard.

So, nil-nil in the end and we have to come back to why there were no substitutions on our end. Wenger has said in the post-match interviews that he didn't want to disrupt our defensive flow. Umm, OK, but let's remember that Chelsea had no interest in playing football in the second half. They set themselves up to not lose, and at best maybe have one or two more chances on the counter. I'd argue that when they did counter, it did not matter who was in our midfield, they'd be far up the pitch anyway and it would be up to the defense and Szczesny to deal with it. That's exactly what happened anyway.

I get it, Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla do not enjoy their defensive responsibilities. But, had they come on they just might have won us the game. Rosicky and Ramsey offered virtually nothing for the entire match, and Theo was no great shakes either. Also, where the hell was Mathieu Flamini? He lives for games like this, and if we're that worried about defense why did we not have our best midfield destroyer in there?

There's so many questions, and not nearly enough answers.

Still, a draw is not a catastrophic result. We now have a long series of very winnable matches...and this result just means that we have less margin for error in them.

The Modern Gooner Player Ratings:

Szczesny 7, Gibbs 7, Vermaelen 7, Mertesacker 7, Sagna 8, Arteta 8, Ramsey 5, Rosicky 6, Ozil 7, Walcott 6, Giroud 5

Man of the Match:  It was hard to decide between Arteta and Sagna. While Sagna gave us an all-action performance down the right flank and made one glorious tackle to boot, I have to give it to the Spaniard for his yeoman work protecting the back four. This was a game where losing was not an option, and Arteta's defensive performance and efficient use of the ball (especially in the second half) went a long way towards earning us that point.