The thought barely leaves me to be honest.
How to Beat Chelsea
As Arsenal exit a decade of self imposed austerity for me it’s always been about dispatching Liverpool and focussing on Chelsea.
Ever since Roman arrived we have had to react to them. They manipulated the transfer market to suit their own affluence knowing we could not follow. First move Roman made was a £50m offer for Thierry Henry.
That was a moment when Arsenal knew this was real. Do they abandon the plan to grow organically or do we try to compete with money. Arsenal choose to grow at their pace.
David Dein famously quoted in 2003:
“Roman Abramovich has parked his Russian tanks on our lawn and is firing £50 notes at us”
DD in 2003
I have read a few blogs this week written in fear of what we face – but I need to change the narrative.
I don’t fear Chelsea and I don’t think they are superior to us on the football pitch any longer. So before I start to think this through I need to get you all in the same place as I am…..emotionally.
I want you to close your eyes for 10 seconds. Then look at the picture below for 20 seconds:
I want you to think back to all those moments after a Chelsea win when he strolls up to his fans and salutes them.
I want you to think back to the 2007 League Cup final where he got his head kicked in.
I want you to think back to how he racially abused Anton Ferdinand
I want you to think about Wenger’s 1000th game.
I want you to think back to the times when Terry takes the acclaim while doing little.
Look hard….think…..right…..you ready
We are Arsenal fans so we know about Arsenal we know their strengths, their physiological DNA.
Let’s take a look at CFC and then devise a way to beat them.
CFC’s Strength is their Weakness
What are you on about Clive?
Well CFC are built on a platform they have 2 key strengths; Mental personality and a solid base. They way to beat them is to attack where they are strong. They are built on the very player not many of us admire. Their whole defence is tailored for his game and to hide his weaknesses. They even have a right footed left back to protect by playing tight to him.
To beat CFC you have to attack them at heart and destabilise their platform.
Best I have seen doing that was Athletic Madrid in the CL semi last year – What did they do. (Video below)
The key is diagonals – play the ball at angle in behind their fullbacks.
What that does is cause panic. Terry and Cahill are front foot defenders. They attack the space in front from deep. The fullbacks press their man meaning crosses are from deeper angles and Terry and Cahill can deal with easily. You have to turn them around and soon as you do they panic.
Once those two go trust me the team goes.
CFC’s strength is their ultimate weakness but you have to attack their strength while making no mistakes. Athletic Mardid did it perfectly and beat CFC by a street. CFC defend deep so this is not easy and needs precision of delivery and aggressive pro-active running in behind. We have Ozil and we have Sanchez who are perfect at this.
1) Costa targeted Terry.
Every moment he could he confronted him. Every break of play he was face to face, man on man. This played to Terry’s ego this ignited the ignorant loutish side of him and he lost focus. I think he was sure he could out mental Costa. He could not and he did not. Costa moved him around, it became Costa v Terry and Terry’s mates were watching wondering and not sure Terry was winning and IMO it shook them. It impacted their confidence and their concentration.
2) Attack CFC’s Fullbacks
Very key what Arsenal do wide. It’s a key selection. It’s so important you have wide men that work hard but can run at their man but make runs off the ball behind CFC. We have to have the DNA where we make these moves to threaten in behind as CFC love teams that pass in front of them. You have to get them rocking and panicking. Terry is like a totem and when he rocks they all rock.
3) We must add Pace
If Arsenal play a pass and move slow technical team CFC will sit deep and play narrow and defend and spring from that platform normally by early balls from Cesc or smart passing one touch moves normally on the side that Hazard is on.
If we add pace we threaten their fullbacks but we discourage their fast break. I like pace wide anyway as teams have to think about you differently. If we play Ramsey wide CFC know exactly that we are going to play the Tika Taka game, they know we will get over confident control the ball and eventually over commit.
What we do have today is more recovery pace. We have Kos, Gabriel and Coquelin Sunday which is key. We can outrun them. We out ran Liverpool and we can outrun CFC. We are going to have the ball so it’s about what we do. Can we unsettle them? Look at the stats for the CFC away game.
We lost 2-0 but still had more possession.
Arsenal had 53% of the possession and Indeed had 10 attempts on goal to Chelsea’s 5.
4) Play with personality.
As I said previously CFC have a huge mental belief. Most of this comes from their manager, their preparation and history of winning big moments. Our belief in big games is as high as it’s been for years. We have all round players that can work very hard on and off the ball.
It’s not about being frantic it’s about execution when you have your moments.
Sanchez has the iron belief in his game. Jose knows this and I expect him to be targeted. Invanovic has lost form massively so this is the area where we can win, down their right side. But we must outwork their left side and stop the service. We win the game from the Ozil, Santi and Sanchez playing diagonals short and long to move them around.
- My Team for CFC
I don’t think Arsenal have to change how they play. The 4-1-4-1 has showed me that Arsenal can press high when needed but defend deep when required. I have fallen for the flexibility this formation brings and variation of game.
We now have the players that can play both sides of football both on the ball and off the ball.
Ospina – Calm presence calm distribution no mistakes. Just does what it says on the tin.
Debuchy – Combative, gets very tight and his experience will help Gabriel in our right channel.
Kos – Just need him in hero mode not dozy mode.
Gabriel – I’m a huge fan and happy he will play as one on one he is superb and his pace will take away a weakness that CFC will try to exploit.
Monreal – CFC have a hard working right side and Monreal is smart and will outwork them.
Coquelin – Columbo is the man – He has showed us the folly of the last 3 years. Arteta and Flamini are just too slow and don’t engage properly.
Welbeck – I thought Theo did well vs Reading and could be our wildcard choice but for me I trust Danny’s all round levels. You always get a 7 out of 10 either defensively or attacking. He may not have the 9 out of 10 game like Theo could have but it comes down to who do we trust for the big moment to not be a passenger? Danny can also help us defend set pieces. We need his size.
Santi – I trust him to combine I trust him to connect the team technically when we will have the ball. I trust his pass and I trust him to play for the team and be near Coquelin for when he gets pressed. I think CFC will target Coquelin and Sanchez and Santi being Santi will be key. He needs to be close and help us evade the moment when CFC will hunt an error.
Ozil – He is our conductor. He grows into games. He is a bit like Mayweather – he watches, he looks, he studies his opponent and he adapts accordingly. You can shake Ozil if you get to him early but if you let him find a rhythm he will find a way to win. He will help the team to understand why is required to win.
Sanchez – Back on form and back being a threat. He has to encourage the diagonals like he did v Reading and that ball is the ball to beat CFC. His running has to be varied and he cannot let CFC run him back to our goal. His starting position is key to the size of threat we will provide.
Giroud – He is a man. He will be our Costa and I think he will dominate CFC like never before. He gives us a pattern of play that is set in stone so we don’t have to search for our pattern. Our shadow play is set and Giroud is the key man.
This is how I would do it.
But I expect Wenger to dominate the ball and play the extra midfielder (Ramsey) then react with pace late on when it’s too late. We must get on the front foot and have the confidence to stay there Spurs did it and shook Terry and Cahill and we have to do the same.
What we have today is recovery pace so I hope that gives us the confidence to be Arsenal.