Stranger things have happened at Arsenal this season but in a surreal moment the Emirates fans began to show their appreciation for….Mesut Ozil. Yes, how much weirder could things get ?
There were bound to be cards in this testosterone filled London Derby and yellow seemed to be the refs favourite colour as his hand appeared regularly at the entrance of his pocket.
Arsenal began this game as underdogs but came out of the traps with an appetite rarely seen on any ground this season including their own. Arteta had obviously told them to get stuck in and the pressing and probing eventually and justifiably paid off in the 13th minute, when they took the lead via Aubameyang.
An Ozil corner was presented to the Gabonese hitman from Chambers at the back post and Arteta punched the air as if he objected to the quality of the oxygen levels.
Talking of levels, this was a game that surprisingly saw Arsenal run out of gas towards the end. For a team that was once full of running and ambition, it seemed to desert them in the home straight as Chelsea came back at them hard and seized the initiative.
How on earth did this side get so unfit in 18 months under Emery ? Was it a case of too little in training and too much looking at videos and graphs ?
Chelsea’s leveller was a comic goal with the normally reliable Leno trying to punch Mounts free kick clear. It went horribly wrong as he mistimed the flight of the ball and his own jump, giving Jorginho the simplest tap in.
Up in the Arsenal directors box, it suddenly dawned on Edu that January could mean long hours and late nights by the phone or in transit on a well known airline.
The comeback against Arsenal was complete when Hudson-Odoi beat a Guendouzi to a header. Willian crossed and Tammy Abraham sold Shkodran Mustafi cheaply like he was a broken toy. Lampard was lapping up the revival, whilst Arteta was rubbing his face to ease the disappointment and remove the signs of disbelief.
The concerns in the latest autopsy will be how Arsenal managed to implode so completely in such a short space of time and it was as if gunners fans had been transported back to the horror of the Europa league final in Baku.
Chelsea then and at present weren’t exactly brilliant but when they needed to push on they managed to, even if they had been assisted by Leno and Mustafi.
The German is surely an ex Arsenal player in January because of his constant need to retreat or fall over, which he invariably does in equal measure.
An injury to Chambers has added to Arteta’s defensive woes and January can’t come quick enough for Arsenal to add some much needed steel. Had the Arsenal coach inherited a better arsenal defence, the size and scale of the collapse might have been prevented.
Edu, from his lofty position in the crowd, needs to start having conversations as he seeks and the type of quality that has been missing for years. If he doesn’t Arsenal could literally get sucked into the bottom three.
But there’s no need to panic, the signs are that the arsenal team is playing to the Spaniards tune and Ozil in particular, bristled with the type of enthusiasm that I thought was beyond him.
Two games in and Arsenal’s new coach just needs to get his players to believe in themselves. The results will come but the work ahead is enormous, far greater than the start up teams of Klopp or Guardiola. If Arteta pulls this off at Arsenal, he will be one of the best young managers in the game.