In pictures: Arsenal v Chelsea
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Alan Shearer has suggested that Arsenal’s centre-back pairing of Rob Holding and Pablo Mari should have done more to deal with Chelsea forward Romelu Lukaku during Sunday’s defeat at the Emirates Stadium. The Belgian marksman, who rejoined the Blues in a club-record £97.5million move earlier this month, scored the opening goal of the game inside 15 minutes to hand his side an early lead.
Reece James doubled Chelsea’s advantage with a sweetly-struck effort from inside the box shortly before half-time, with the England defender’s contribution sealing all three points for the visitors.
Lukaku was the star man, though, with the former Inter Milan striker regularly at the heart of proceedings for his new club.
He took eight shots, won eight duels and touched the ball on 11 occasions inside the opposition box, more than any other player on the pitch.
The 28-year-old would have secured an impressive brace had it not been for a stunning save from Bernd Leno to push a towering header onto the crossbar during the second half.
Arsenal struggled to answer the questions posed by Lukaku from the first whistle to the last, with Shearer singling out Holding and Mari for their respective shortcomings after the match.
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When asked if the latter should have done more to lead his team-mates in closing Lukaku down, the former Newcastle United forward told Match of the Day 2: “Absolutely screaming.
“It’s not as if those two are youngsters in Holding and Mari, they’re experienced players now. You’ve got to be screaming at your midfielders, to say: ‘This cannot be allowed to happen’.
“Because one-vs-one, with his back to goal, with his back to defenders, not many players are going to stop Lukaku with his skill, with his strength and what he can do.
“You’ve got to tell the midfielders: ‘Come and give us a hand, and help me out’. And that never happened.”
Sunday’s result leaves Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta under significant pressure to turn his side’s form around with immediate effect.
The Gunners currently lie in the Premier League drop zone alongside Newcastle United and Norwich City after failing to earn a single point from their opening two matches of the new campaign.
Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown echoed Shearer’s sentiments in delivering his own verdict on their lacklustre performance, declaring that Arteta’s side made life far too easy for Lukaku at the top of the pitch.
“What I would have done is, you’ve got to give him a big hit occasionally,” Keown told Premier League Productions.
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“But you don’t do it from a couple of feet away where he can feel you. You come in ten feet into a challenge and he thinks: ‘Christ, what’s just hit me?’.
“Let him think about things. And occasionally when he’s trying to back into you, then you say: ‘You know what, let’s push forward ten yards’, and he’s got to sort out a new picture.
“It was too comfortable for him and he was dictating too much to that Arsenal defence today.”
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