Three elements that Arsenal need to be back to their best
Chelsea's well-drilled full team beat a somewhat makeshift/experimental 4-5-1 Arsenal team.
Given this context it is not a surprise that Arsenal lost. In particular, Arsenal's defence had three players out of their regular position, and it was the lack of expertise in new positions that proved costly for both conceded goals.
Up to Chelsea's goal I felt positive about the Arsenal performance. Fabregas, Flamini and Hleb really dug in and matched up well with their more experienced midfield opponents. Toure was excellent doing the work of two players as he charged up and down the whole of the right flank. Senderos was going toe-for-toe with Drogba (an experience which will do him a lot of good). And RVP struck a lovely goal only for the linesman to incorrectly flag it offside (I really like his fighting attitude which again was evident yesterday).
Considering the relative inexperience of our team I was very happy with what I was seeing.
But Robben's goal hit our confidence, and gave Chelsea licence to fully concentrate on what they do best: stop the opposition. Chelsea know how to defend a lead and our experimental 4-5-1 was simply not grooved enough to comeback. Lauren's mistake followed by Joe Cole's superb finish merely confirmed that it was not going to be Arsenal's day.
But this fact does not mean that Arsenal are in terminal decline as some may be tempted to think. There are three elements that Arsenal need to be back to their best, and they can be activated in the short-to-medium term.
First, Arsenal seriously miss Cole/Clichy. Our defence is consistently leaking goals and it comes through not being able to pick our most experienced, well-drilled, 49ers defence of Lauren/Toure/Campbell/Cole. Getting Cole back is number one on my wish-list, and apparently this will happen in just three weeks (can't wait!).
Second is what has been mentioned so many times on EFT: we need an experienced, powerful CM with leadership qualities to back-up Gilberto, Fabregas and Flamini. I'm sure Wenger's scouting network is scouring the world for someone of this calibre, and I hope that we see someone in January (maybe non cup-tied Ivory Coast international Didier Zokora from St Etienne?).
Third, our right midfield position needs sorting out. I really wanted Wenger to buy SWP so to balance out our attacking options which mainly concentrates down the left (an option that seems to have been left alone since Cole/Clichy's absence). Freddie is increasingly going missing, and Hleb is more comfortable in the middle than on the right (apparently neither he nor Stuttgart fans were happy when he was moved into this position last season).
So it would be great if Arsene decided to buy PSV's rising star, Jefferson Farfan. He can play attacking wide right (or up front) in a 4-4-2 or a 4-5-1. I was really impressed with him when Arsenal played PSV last season, and he has continued to impress in this seasons Champs league. I wanted Drogba at Arsenal a year before Chelsea bought him, and I see Farfan as a similar power-player with enormous latent potential that Wenger is expert enough to maximise.
On top of adding these three elements it must be remembered that Arsenal has some of the best youngsters in the world; one of the world's best coaches; a new 60,000 capacity state-of-the-art stadium as its home in eight months time, and a footballing tradition that rivals anyone in English football. Disappointed with recent results: Yes. Doom and gloom about the future of AFC: No chance!