Arsenal's inability to win big games can no longer be put down to 'bad luck' or to the quality of opponents as Arsene Wenger keeps suggesting. There is something fundamentally wrong. After the defeat at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, a number of statistics released by various sources were quite telling.
Arsenal have won none of their last 15 Premier League meetings with Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City (P15 W0 D7 L8).
In Arsenal's last five games against Chelsea and Manchester United, they have scored ZERO goals.
Arsenal away games in last five seasons against other top five finishers (Wins:1 Draws:3 Losses:16).
Big game management
These statistics show that there is an ongoing issue Arsene Wenger seems unable to address. Many might wonder why the focus is on 'big games' and why they hold a separate meaning, listen to past legends and one quickly gets the idea.
A cliché used often by managers is that big matches are often decided by the 'little details' and these constitute the simple pieces of play that may win a game. In Arsenal's case, the details are not little and I'm not sure that the 'little details' theory can be attributed to the Gunners when the stats are so heavily one-sided against them.
Having said that, there was a moment where there was a clear definition on why the big games are different and why Arsenal have failed so badly in that aspect of the game in recent years. Following Cahill's tackle on Alexis and the subsequent debacle that followed between Wenger and Mourinho, the tension levels clearly rose with both sets of players suddenly realizing how badly their respective managers wanted to win the game. After a decent start, Arsenal really couldn't cope with the way Chelsea raised the level of intensity in their game. It may have not been noticed instantly, but these are the 'details' whereby big games are decided one.
Same old story
The inevitable feeling after the game at Chelsea was for many to say it was a good performance by Arsenal, simply because they weren't beaten by six - a quite patronizing analogy. If we look back in history, the game reflected pretty much all of Arsenal’s visits to Stamford Bridge over the last ten years bar the odd exception. Chelsea took the lead early on and were never in danger, forced Arsenal to come out and finished the game late on. It's a simple tactic that has repeatedly been used against the Gunners that Arsene Wenger can't, or doesn't, want to work out. For a manager whose vision is channelled by attacking football, not registering a single shot on target for the first time since September 2003 must raise some alarm bells.
Some of the comments from the Arsenal players seemed like the result was acceptable and further strengthens the notion that these players are a 'soft touch'. Arsenal vice-captain Per Mertesacker openly admitted that Chelsea "are better, still better. We have to learn quickly." That is a major sign of submission if there ever was one.
Wilshere repeated the rhetoric of claiming that this result had some positives "we had a sustained period of possession against a solid defensive unit" was the best he could muster. Whilst the manager Arsene Wenger claimed it was Chelsea's "financial power" that won them the game, a truly bizarre statement to make immediately after the final whistle.
The Frenchman, infamously linked to not seeing much, may have missed the two most expensive players on the pitch who were wearing red and white (Ozil and Alexis). Arsenal also spent more than Chelsea this past summer and for the first time in more than a decade, boasts a higher wage bill than their London rivals. Finance is no longer an argument Wenger can resort to - maybe the difference was spending and spending wisely.
It breeds a 'loser' culture at the club and is one of the many reasons why the club has failed in the big games recently, they almost feel sorry for themselves and have lost before kick-off. They say that doing the same things over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity, Arsene Wenger needs to come up with a new plan quick in the big games to deviate from that title.