By on November 30, 2009

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That just about sums up my Sunday. Thank God my three-year old, Lucien, all decked out in his full home kit to watch Arsenal with his dad, doesn’t yet realize that football is game in which you either win or lose, or he’d have been in tears. Sunday was beyond frustrating. I told myself to wait at least 24 hours before writing on the match, but real-life beckons and so I must do it now.

Arseblog’s assessment this morning is a bit harsh but basically spot-on. However, for personal reasons, when it comes to Arsenal, I always try to remain positive. The disallowed goal was certainly a turning point, as Wenger has said. If that goal is given, we have a completely different match in which Arsenal would have regained the momentum right after the break. The weather, the injuries, Andre Marriner… everything seemed to conspire against us. Our luck with officials’ decisions and injuries in the last couple of years makes me think that we used up all our luck during the Invincible season and the unbeaten run.

The first thirty-five minutes were as satisfying as possible without grabbing the lead. Arsenal controlled the match, continually pushed Chelsea behind the ball to defend, and reduced Chelsea to playing almost entirely on the counterattack. One moment of William Gallas flat-footedness, and Drogba efficiency, deflated the entire atmosphere. The second goal, an unfortunate own goal, just a few minutes later, had an even more devastating effect.

Yet, the side came out of the interval determined to fight back and get something from the match. As the second half began, we once again pushed Chelsea onto their back-foot, doing almost enough to get the goal. When the second goal was disallowed, the weight of the entire day fell on the entire side’s shoulders and getting the possibility of getting something from the match looked more and more remote with each passing second.

I know Arseblogger says about our injuries: “That is irrelevant. We were the ones who had to cope with some of our important players being out and we couldn’t do it.” But I would say that in the entire league, the only striker who has even been close to matching, and arguably has been more valuable than, Drogba is van Persie. Just by the very nature of football, I wonder if it is realistic to lambast a side missing such a key player, and more, losing to the strongest team in the league, possibly the world, at the moment, at full-strength.

We now find ourselves 11 points back, with a game-in-hand. Assuming we win the game-in-hand, which is Bolton at home, we are 8 points back at the beginning of December. I would have thought that it is not an insurmountable lead by any means since we have in the past come back from bigger deficits far further on in the season. However, without van Persie, with Eduardo struggling to look even a shell of his former self, and Carlos Vela needing games to even be in a position to attempt to fill van Persie’s role, it does look highly unlikely.

Had Vela gotten more games last season rather than languishing on the bench besides for some stunning Carling Cup performances and a few late-season league cameos, he would have been in a far better position at the moment. Still, he looks the better option at taking van Persie’s place than Eduardo, who is struggling to regain the form he had upon his initial return from injury 11 months ago. His confidence is obviously low and that is not good for any striker.

All in all, the van Persie injury will either see Vela and/or Eduardo step up their game in the coming months or Wenger may be forced to go back in for Chamakh in January. As for the defense, I don’t see there’s much to do there. Back in September, Arsene spoke about the fact that he was considering giving Gallas a new contract at the end of the season. But I fear it may be time to let the man walk and use the money the club didn’t spend this summer to find a proper CB partner for Vermaelen next summer. Of course, our defensive issues are not wholly down to the centerbacks, but the issue has to be addressed in some way. Arsene might also consider finding a more Song-type player to alongside the Cameroonian in the midfield rather than the likes of Denilson and Diaby to increase the club’s steel.