A war of attrition yesterday in Merseyside; today, a contrast of styles in North London. Arsenal's inventiveness and crisp passing style, epitomised by the diminutive attackers Nasri, Fabregas and Arshavin, against the power and aggression of Chelsea's Drogba, Terry and Carvalho. Super Sunday is Sky's moniker for weekly Premier league battles and this was indeed a Super Sunday game.
Arsenal had a point to prove after being so easily swept aside by Manchester United last week, prompting Wenger to pronounce, "Now, instead of being intimidated, I believe we have to really have a go..." That job was made extremely difficult as Drogba popped up at the far post in the eighth minute with too much room having lost his marker, Song, to tap in for the opening goal. For all of Arsenal's controlled possession and determination to get the ball, they were sorely lacking any real threat or quality up front as through balls directed at Arshavin were easily mopped up by Terry and Carvalho.
Before the game, Ancelotti was asked how he planned to stop Arsenal. His emphatic answer was simple and demonstrated so ably by his plaers: "counter attack." And counter attack they did, with the second goal coming courtesy of a swift counter as Lampard broke through the middle of the park before passing to Drogba on the edge of the Arsenal box. A quick turn past the defender, an admittedly lucky bobble, but there could be no mistake about the assured left-foot finish from Drogba who, before the game, revealed in an interview that he wanted to "score a hat-trick" against Arsenal.
In the good old days of Mourinho, Chelsea would easily go two goals up and close out games and it was no different today, despite a determined Arsenal performance. Plenty of possession and good work outside the penalty box but, as is so often the case when describing Arsenal, no presence in attack to counter the physical approach of the Chelsea back-line. Even with the introduction of Nicolas Bendtner Arsenal failed to fashion any real clear chances and things could have been much worse later in the game when Drogba fired a free-kick against the bar.
Wenger may have learned that his side have a little determination left in them but it is simple mistakes and a lack of concentration at set-pieces that are hampering his gifted side at present. Two of the big four have been played in the space of a week and on both occasions his side have been found out. Too easily crowded out around the penalty box and forced out wide where, forced to cross the ball, big central defenders can ply their trade with relative ease against diminutive attackers. Arsenal face a resurgent and fighting Liverpool at The Emirates on Wednesday and it will take a monumental slice of luck, as they received at Anfield with the Johnson own goal, and a similarly determined performance coupled with a more clinical attitude to get anything against a more compact Liverpool side that have only conceded one goal in seven league games.