Alan Shearer was impressed with Arsenal on Sunday but emphasised their need to buy new defenders if they are to go anywhere under Mikel Arteta.
The Gunners put in a top performance in the opening 45 minutes at the Emirates as they swarmed Chelsea, took the lead through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and forced Frank Lampard into a tactical change all before the break.
However, things started to unravel in the second half and a capitulation in the latter stages allowed Chelsea to come away with all three points in a big blow for Arsenal as they continue to play catch up in the battle for a top-four finish in the Premier League this season.
Shearer picked out the positives from the early part of their performance at the weekend, but he insisted that the way in which the Gunners threw the game away should make it clear to Arteta where he needs to strengthen as a priority, perhaps even as early as the January transfer window if he’s backed by the hierarchy.
“For the first 80 minutes at the Emirates there were so many signs of encouragement for Arsenal but, in the end, the same old problems that have plagued them for years came back to haunt them,” he wrote in his column for The Sun. “In the first half they looked compact and tight at the back – not something that can be said too often.
“The whole team appeared organised for large parts and it looked as though they had a different attitude. They put in a huge amount of effort, which they have regularly lacked in the past.
“Then, with just seven minutes to go, the old Arsenal came back to bite and they self-destructed.
“One thing Arteta will now definitely know is that he desperately needs to bring new defenders in if they are to kick on.”
Losing Calum Chambers to an injury after just 23 minutes won’t have helped, but with the likes of David Luiz and Shkodran Mustafi unable to keep things together at the back to secure a clean sheet and three points, it’s difficult to disagree with Shearer’s assessment.
Arsenal have shown positive signs since Arteta was appointed, but they’re losing more ground in their pursuit of a Champions League spot and need to address their flaws as soon as possible to try and be competitive in the second half of the campaign.