The new Arsenal number one Petr Cech was clearly trying to lift his dejected team mates after the final whistle blew on the Premier League match against Chelsea on Sunday. That sort of ability to look for any positives and to move on from a disappointment is a very important part of what the Czech Republic international brings to the team and perhaps that is what he was doing when he glossed over the part that Per Mertesacker played in the loss to our London rivals.
We hardly need to be told that going down to 10 men so early in a crucial game like that was not helpful to the cause but even so, Cech’s post match comments reported on the Arsenal website were very easy on the German centre back. In fact he seems to absolve Mertesacker of much of the responsibility and put more onus on the fact that we could not convert our very positive play after they scored into a goal or any really clear cut chances.
Cech also feels that the Gunners might well have got something from the game had we only been able to keep the visitors from scoring so soon after the red card. That goal from Costa gave Chelsea the perfect platform to defend their lead rather than pushing forward and keeping the open game that would have suited Walcott´s counter attacking threat much more.
The keeper said, “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.
“The referee was very close. 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.
“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.
“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.”
In light of these comments do you think that more of the blame for our loss should go to the players that failed to core than on Mertesacker?