Arsenal’s first priority: Limiting damage

Manuel Almunia is a giant bundle of nerves. Loss of confidence is contagious. Especially when it comes to an opportunistic club like Chelsea with its veterans who can smell the reek of low self esteem and see muscles turned to jelly a mile away. Wenger has indicated that Fabianski is not yet ready. Not that this really matters since both keepers don’t really inspire confidence. Arsenal has to be every bit as vigilant and not give up cheap and easy goals.
1. Limit damage: Get behind the ball, protect the goalkeeper. Give up little space, tackle hard, cut off the passing lanes, disrupt the flow, and deal with set pieces and free kicks by sticking to defensive assignments. That goes for every Arsenal player on every inch of the field.
2. Do without the adventure: A fast and powerful counterattacking team like Chelsea exploits giveaways. The last thing Gallas and Co. want to do is to chase a Didier Drogba who has killed the Gunners. Cut out the attacking junkets addicting every Arsenal defender at present. Leave that to Fabregas and Arshavin.
3. Beware the crosses: Last time around it was Ashley Cole with his devastating crosses that panicked the Arsenal defence. Sagna and Song have to be physical in their marking and disrupt the overlapping Cole and Malouda on Chelsea’s active left flank.
4. A 4-4-1-1: I think Wenger needs to give Bendtner a start. He may not be fully fit but if you are to loft long balls and crosses a 6’2″ striker has a better chance of getting to them than Andriy Arshavin who should be moved to the slot. Denilson was awful against Man Utd. Time to give Aaron Ramsey a start.
5. Open field shots: Lets not walk the ball into goal. The Chelsea defenders expect it and they will just clog up the middle. Cech has been susceptible to the sudden long range bomb. It might be a good idea to test him.
6. Winning the Premiership: Forget the third place finish happy talk. Wenger might have said other things too in his interview but these are the headlines. Very few go beyond it. He promised in the beginning of the season that Arsenal would win a big trophy. The Premiership is as big as they come. Play the lights out.

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