Everyone is stressing because Arsenal have dropped to three points below Leicester, but it is hardly the end of the world with still another 45 points to play for before the end of the season, and I would point out that we are set to face Leicester at the Emirates very shortly?
So losing one game, just as many other teams have done already his campaign is not the end of our challenge for the League title, but it is yet another difficult match disposed of….
As usual, the rock-steady Petr Cech is looking at it philosophically, and is certain it’s just a minor setback: “We are disappointed because we lost a game at home. We wanted to compete, we wanted to take advantage of playing at home, but unfortunately the decisive moment came quite early on in the game. Unfortunately Chelsea took advantage of that and scored.
“From there, they tried to control the game and playing 11 against 10 for 70 minutes is always an advantage [for Chelsea]. I thought that, even with 10 men, we came back very strongly in the second half. We could have actually scored the equaliser but we were missing a little bit of the last touch inside the box and around the box. There were always moments where we almost got there, but we didn’t find a real opportunity to put the ball in the net.”
We all know the reason we were lacking Olivier Giroud up front was because of Per Mertesacker’s last-ditch lunge on Diego Costa, and no Arsenal players tried to protest the sending off. “The referee was very close.” Petr continued. “He had a clear view of the situation and he decided straight away to give a red card. There was no hesitation from anyone. We just had to deal with the fact. You just go on. He can’t change the decision anyway by protesting for three minutes. We had to regroup, we had to make sure that we reorganised and try to continue with 10 men. Unfortunately we conceded too early after the sending off.”
The Czech international felt that his team-mates responded well, and matched Chelsea despite the disadvantage of being a man short. “I thought for 70 minutes we were brilliant, in terms of the team effort and the organisation. We were not far from getting something out of the game. When you play against the champions and are down to 10 men for such a long time… we are only three points off the lead and have Leicester and Southampton at home coming up. They are difficult games but if we can keep winning our games, we can go back to the top.”
Cech admitted that it was never going to be easy to break down his old club once they took the lead. “Well, they took advantage of it [their man advantage] quite early, and I think that was the decisive moment in the game. They could sit back, they could control the game, keep possession and wait for their opportunities. We had to sit a bit deeper and wait for our opportunities to counter-attack.
“In the second half, we were more aggressive. We tried to search for the equaliser and I thought we did really well. In the first half, we had a few tight offsides and some chances where we maybe missed a little bit of the quality to score. We knew at half-time that we would have another chance to equalise. We had some half chances and there were some moments where we were close but we couldn’t find the equaliser.”
As Cech points out there is no need to lose our heads. There will be other defeats just as our rivals will also suffer from time to time, so all we can do is put our heads down and prepare for the next game and concentrate on getting the next three points. At least we don’t have to play Chelsea, Liverpool or Stoke again this season….