LONDON. — Ten years of Theo Walcott and some bright spark at Arsenal thought it would be a good idea for the forward to lead out the team in the biggest fixture of the season.
The title chasers were putty in Chelsea’s hands after that, softened up by the decision to send Walcott out with the captain’s armband fixed around his bicep on Sunday.
They could put on Arsenal-Chelsea down the local rec and you know that John Terry, the captain of Guus Hiddink’s team, would slide through dog dirt to win a game like this.
Terry placed Walcott’s hand in a vice before kick-off, giving Arsenal’s captain a bone-shaker when they met in the centre circle for the coin toss. This fixture is not a testimonial.
For 75 minutes, until Walcott was replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, he played like that armband had been tied around his two feet.
The decision to give Walcott the armband was a planned event, with Wenger approving of the gesture in the days leading up to its traditional hum-dinger.
“I think you can look for many reasons as to why we lost the game, but we will never really know if this is one of them,” claimed Wenger.
“We are frustrated because we never really played the game we wanted to, but I don’t think it was the fault of Mertesacker to give the armband to Walcott.”
The real club captain is Mertesacker, the man who was sent off after just 18 minutes when he clipped the heels of Diego Costa when he was haring through on Petr Cech’s goal.
He is always vulnerable in these situations, grinding back and forth through forward and reverse gears in a futile attempt to face the right direction. In the end, he swiped Costa’s legs from under him.
With that their chances of getting anything at all out of this game diminished, particularly when Costa put Chelsea in front after 23 minutes.
“I just say I thought we could beat Chelsea,” claimed Wenger, but Arsenal’s manager knows that Guus Hiddink’s team can still pull it out of the bag from time to time.
Chelsea always raise their game for this clash of cultures, extending their unbeaten run in the English Premier League against Wenger’s team to nine games.
The Community Shield at Wembley, when Jose Mourinho continued his tiff with Wenger when he waited for him to come down the steps with his winner’s medal, has long been forgotten.
This defeat raises fresh questions about the mentality of this team, their desire to win the club’s first English Premier League title since 2004. Boy does that era cast a shadow over this clan. Sol Campbell was at the Emirates, making his way down from the club level for a short interview on the pitch at half-time. He should have stayed out there for the second half.
Campbell knows what it takes, with those trademark recovery tackles one of his biggest assets during his stellar career with Arsenal. The new breed remain a flaky bunch.
This was another blood-curdling fixture, with John Obi Mikel, Nemanja Matic, Kurt Zouma, Cesc Fabregas and Terry dishing it out when they needed to.
Even the sleight figure of Oscar, nine stone dropping wet, ripped Joel Campbell’s socks when he was flying down the right wing in the first half. It is always that type of game. — Mailonline.