Chelsea’s recent woes came no closer to ending following a humiliating 3-1 defeat against Arsenal last night. Goals from Alex Song, Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott in the space of eight minutes before and after the interval were enough to inflict a sixth league game without a victory for the champions. Branislav Ivanovic replied immediately with what turned out to be the only shot on target from the away team.
An injury to Nicolas Anelka meant Salomon Kalou kept his place, while Frank Lampard returned to the starting eleven for the first time since August 28th. Paulo Ferreira was preferred over Jose Bosingwa at right-back.
The game started well enough with Drogba firing just wide after a brilliant, instinctive first-time through-ball from Lampard. Arsenal threatened through Robin van Persie but he air-kicked when well-placed, whilst Walcott suffered from a heavy touch when it seemed he might be through on goal. Both teams seemed well short of their best though Arsenal were looking far more comfortable in dealing with Drogba than on previous occasions. Chelsea’s attack looked as impotent as ever.
Van Persie blazed over when well-place before Petr Cech was called into action, stretching to tip over Sami Nasri’s delicate lofted chip. The warning was not heeded and a minute before the break the Gunners got the crucial first. Some intricate play on the edge of the box culminated in Jack Wilshere picking out Song, who placed his shot perfectly past Cech with the backline seemingly AWOL. Indeed, had Song not scored, Arsenal would probably have been awarded a penalty after Ferreira wiped out van Persie in the same incident.
Unlike at Tottenham we didn’t show any improvement after the break and before long find ourselves 0-3 down. First the disappointing Michael Essien inadvertently set Walcott through on goal and he unselfishly squared around Cech for Fabregas to pass into the empty net. Barely a minute later the same duo combined to heap more misery on the Blues. This time Malouda was caught in possession and Fabregas fed Walcott who beat Cech with a measured drive.
Ivanovic offered some hope to the travelling fans, heading in Drogba’s free-kick with ease. Yet over the next thirty five minutes Chelsea failed to muster a shot on target, even if their possession levels increased. Drogba might have set up substitute Gael Kakuta when well-placed and in the dying moments had a decent shot blocked by one of his own. Arsenal were comfortable and nearly added a fourth through Nasri, but he failed to capitalize on Kakuta’s short back-pass.
So Chelsea slip to fifth place in the league knowing that defeat at home to Bolton tomorrow night would see them head into the new year in sixth. Unless the champions improve, and improve quickly, the prospect of Europa League football next season is a very real one. With three games in seven games the chance is certainly there to reverse this torrid form, which sees the ‘sleeping’ Blues at the very bottom of the form table. Six points from eight matches tells its own story.