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Five Concerns for Rafael Benítez and Arsène Wenger

Rafael Benítez is a manager famed for being tactically astute but he does not seem to know how to cure Chelsea's nervy defending at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea were there for the taking

As good as they were going forward in the first half, as soon as Arsenal attacked them after the interval they were extremely vulnerable and were fortunate the visitors did not add to Theo Walcott's goal, given their dominance.

As Arsenal poured forward, thoughts turned to the way Southampton drew 2-2 with Chelsea after being 2-0 down at half-time. If only Arsenal had gone for Chelsea from the start. Instead they were left to regret failing to turn up in the first half.

Rugby tackles are inadvisable

After Laurent Koscielny's risible red card against Manchester City last weekend, Arsène Wenger surely would have told his players not to try more rugby tackles inside their own area. Yet the game was only minutes old when Abou Diaby had his arms wrapped around Oscar inside Arsenal's area. They were fortunate that the referee, Martin Atkinson, did not award a penalty but the incident exposed much about their glaring mental frailties. As prettily as Arsenal pass the ball, they are a side desperately short of organisation and maturity.

Giroud is not the answer

The game could have been so different if Olivier Giroud had taken a glorious chance to give Arsenal the lead after being played through by Walcott. Instead he dragged his shot wide and a minute later Juan Mata put Chelsea ahead. Giroud is a decent striker, clever in his movement and capable of troubling the best defences, but he misses far too many chances that would be taken by Robin van Persie. Selling the Dutchman was not necessarily a terrible decision by Arsenal; replacing him with a striker who would probably not get on the bench at Manchester United, Manchester City or Chelsea was.

Chelsea's triumvirate are a blessing and a curse

When Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar are all on song, there are few better sides to watch than Chelsea. The trio ripped apart Arsenal in the first half. Yet it is not hard to work out why Benítez sometimes feels that playing all three is an over indulgence. When Chelsea are under pressure, their inability to track back makes the side too open. Benítez has occasionally favoured Ryan Bertrand, Ramires or Victor Moses instead, but it feels like a waste to leave one of Mata, Hazard or Oscar on the bench. He needs to find the right balance and make the most of the talent at his disposal.

Arsenal have not replaced Song

Alex Song was far from the perfect holding midfielder, mainly because he was undisciplined positionally, but Arsenal have still suffered because of his sale to Barcelona. With Wenger deprived of Mikel Arteta's poise and Diaby off the pace after his return from injury, Arsenal's midfield allowed Chelsea's to do as they pleased. If their midfielders are not going to work hard enough to frustrate the opposition, then Wenger needs to sign a ball-winning midfielder who can stamp his influence on matches. With that in mind, Wenger's interest in West Ham's Mohamed Diamé is easy to understand.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Jacob Steinberg, for guardian.co.uk on Sunday 20th January 2013 16.24 Europe/London

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


image: © etyek

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