When Arsene Wenger spoke about the need to rotate his centre-halves based on the opposition we're set to play, it seemed understandable. And on paper Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen seemed a good combination when facing Chelsea. Eden Hazard, Oscar, Mata and Torres are quick-footed, tricky players and I can understand why he thought today's pairing might be the most suitable.
In hindsight, and it's a gift we wish we all had, he's probably kicking himself that he didn't retain the services of Per Mertesacker who has been outstanding this season. Both goals that Arsenal conceded were very soft and both Vermaelen and Koscielny were culpable.
For the first the captain's rash challenge presented the visitors with a free kick from a dangerous position, and when the ball came in Koscielny seemed more interested in wrestling with Torres than trying to win the ball. The Spaniard's hooked finish to the near post was a nice bit of improvisation but he shouldn't have been allowed the chance to pull it off.
For the second Vermaelen gave away another needless free kick in more or less the same position, and a player of his experience should really not be as careless as that. The Arsenal defence again failed to win the header, the ball skidded through, and Koscielny's last ditch attempt to get there did nothing but deflect it past his keeper. In his mitigation at least he was trying and questions ought to be asked of both Mannone and the defence's inability to clear the first ball, but it certainly wasn't his finest day.
Outside the centre-halves both full backs coped very well with what Chelsea had to offer from wide positions. Carl Jenkinson was probably Arsenal's stand-out player on the day while Kieran Gibbs got forward to good effect, supporting Podolski and then Gervinho when the German was substituted.
Arsenal will also rue missed chances. Santi Cazorla had three good opportunities, twice set up by Gervinho, but each time his shooting was wayward and lacked the composure we've come to associate with him. Petr Cech made two outstanding saves, firstly from a Podolski header which was looping into the top corner, and then brilliantly getting a hand to Olivier Giroud's deflected shot. The Frenchman ought to have secured a point for us late on when played in by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Unfortunately, when going outside the Chelsea keeper, he couldn't quite get the ball out from under his feet and shot into the side netting. After the fine goal against Coventry questions will again be asked about his finishing.
However, it is the defensive lapses that will most concern the Arsenal manager and I suspect he'll be ruing his decision to rest the German today. He brings a calmness and assurance that the more live-wire Koscielny and Vermaelen don't, and from a partnership point of view you have to ask whether or not today's centre-halves suit each other. They played a lot of football together last season and it's fair to say we struggled defensively and conceded a lot of goals.
Mertesacker complements both of them very well and to me it's no coincidence that our defensive record has improved this season when he played. Obviously there's more to it than that but for my money Mertesacker plus one of Vermaelen or Koscielny is the best pairing we have – plus Vermaelen's position as captain makes the choice even more difficult for the manager. It's hard to drop the man with the armband but it's something he'll have to give some thought to.
Overall, this is a game that Arsenal will look back on with much unhappiness. Individual mistakes and poor defending handed goals to a Chelsea side which didn't look particularly threatening otherwise, and a failure to take decent chances up the other end meant these dropped points feel particularly frustrating.
GettyImages / Richard Heathcote/Getty ImagesKoscielny were culpable (along with Vermaelen) on both Chelsea goals.