Despite Arsenal's defeat against Chelsea, the Gunners showed plenty of fighting spirit, which still augurs well for their title challenge.
Now three points behind league leaders Leicester, Arsenal's character suggests that they are clearly capable of bouncing back after this latest setback.
However, Arsenal were the architects of their own downfall as Mertesacker's inexplicable lunge on Diego Costa could only result in a red card. Does the German not trust Cech enough to think he might foil Costa on a one-on-one? This mistake may cost Mertesacker, who could struggle to regain his place in the starting XI. On the day, it cost Arsenal who were down to ten men against an experienced Chelsea side, who are no strangers to snuffing out games.
Something drastic had to be done, but raised eyebrows were in evidence after Wenger replaced Giroud with Gabriel, following the German's expulsion. The crowd booed and Arsenal legend Thierry Henry questioned the decision in the Sky Sports studio. Henry thought Joel Campbell should have been replaced instead, as Giroud would have offered a presence upfront. Although Giroud had sustained a knock in training, it did appear to be a strange decision to take him off.
Few chances materialised, despite all of Arsenal's huffing and puffing, and when they did it was Flamini they fell to. The French midfielder was unable to hit the target on the two occasions when the ball dropped his way in the box. However, I feel blaming Flamini is more than a tad unfair, as his work rate is undeniable.
The Sky Sports pundits were quite harsh on Flamini, even blaming him partly for the goal scored by Costa: they claimed he blocked Koscielny's view! Hmm! Not too sure about that! Isn't Koscielny tall enough to see over his fellow countryman?
Meanwhile, Koscielny was certainly guilty of felling Fabregas in the area and was extremely lucky not to concede a penalty.
For effort alone, Arsenal deserved a share of the spoils; their energy levels were admirable. If they can keep eleven players on the pitch, they should be capable of beating anyone and the top spot could soon be theirs again.
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