Chelsea vs. Arsenal
Stamford Bridge – 17th Sept. 2017
Premier League Preview
I think in some ways, Chelsea vs. Arsenal is becoming secondary to Arsenal and Spurs. 10 years ago, or more for that matter, Arsenal fans viewed Chelsea as just another London club. Like a West Ham, Palace, or QPR.
But I think, on both sides, Arsenal/Chelsea is a backdrop for the Kings of London trophy. Chelsea has naturally emerged over the past 15 years as a major world footballing force. Arsenal has been long a traditional giant, and has graced the Premier League era with great successes. However, Chelsea see Arsenal as “in their way” to being the biggest club in London, especially with their Champions League. We on the other hand know we have won the most trophies in the city, and have the most storied history (and earn the most revenues no less per the Deloitte rankings in 2015 and 2016). And Chelsea knows that if we got our manager, players, and internal structure right, we would be more than a match for them on the pitch.
So whilst for us, Chelsea is no Tottenham, there is an emergent rivalry to be had based on mutual desires for city-wide supremacy. And whilst we Gooners detest Tottenham most of all, both Arsenal and Chelsea have been far and away the most successful clubs from London in Premier League history on many measures. It could also be that both we and they have a strong global standing, but ours is based on good football and success, theirs is just about money and success, no romance or joy.
Chelsea beat FC Qarabag 6-0 in the Champions League, whilst we beat Koln 3-1 in the Europa League. So we both had reasonable results in midweek, and will go in with some measure of confidence. Both teams also had far from successful transfer windows, and have had mixed starts to the season. Arsenal’s start has been worse, but Chelsea’s started with a loss at home to Burnley.
With these points at hand, a win for either would bring renewed confidence. Chelsea would be assured they can at least make a fight of their title defence. Arsenal would be confident they can get a result at another top-six team’s ground, which we have not done much in recent times.
I believe if we’re to get the win, it must be rooted in sound tactics.
Wenger has beaten Conte twice in the space of several months (FA Cup and Community Shield) using this, and he MUST again. Conte is smart, and he knows that Wenger knows he can school him.
I suspect Conte will have his own tactical plan afoot. Wenger is proving, to some extent, that he is willing to be more flexible, and we’ll see how much he can advance.
For me, he should play. Yes, he was subpar for most of the game vs. Koln. However, his goal was exquisite. He also had a chip towards the end that would have made a fine goal to boot. He is quality, and needs to play. Is he overweight? Maybe. But I remember Henry playing bad games and still scoring goals. Wright did too. Bergkamp probably did also. I’m sure Kane has, or Aguero, Lukaku, or any other good contemporary Premier League striker.
If he plays crap, and scores a vital equaliser, or a winner, should we complain? What if Lacazette is crap, but then scores a winner? Would it matter in the end? I doubt it.
Both have played top teams already with mixed results. We got spanked at Anfield, and they beat Sp*rs at Wembley. Though to be fair to the “first runners-up finish in decades” lot from near Edmonton, they were the better team that day.
This is a test for both teams, as Conte’s league record against the other top teams thus far is pretty good. If either manager loses, it’s a natural setback, though I’d say more for us than them to be honest.
The game in Jan 2017 and the FA Cup Final showed a distinct contrast in mentality. Alexis was down, Ozil got bullied, and Cech was shit. In the Final, Ospina was up for it, Per marshalled Costa, Xhaka schooled Kante, Alexis was up, and Ozil was master and not bully.
The FA Cup Final, and the Charity Shield to some extent, are examples of how we should play any top team. If we’re on it, and are primed as good as we can be, then we can get a result. If not, then either Chelsea have an off day, or we lose again. And possibly lose badly. However, even a scrappy 1-0 or 2-1 loss would not appease many of us.
Chelsea 2-2 Arsenal
I believe if Mr. Wenger gets his tactics right, we can win this. Alexis must start, and we should play like thus:
If I were Wenger here, I would get Ozil and Alexis to play slightly deeper, and to help Xhaka/Elneny congest the midfield. Both are strong on the counter-attack, and this could be complemented by utilising Theo, Iwobi, or even Wilshere later in the game. I would select the Egyptian’s discipline and legs alongside Xkaha, over Ramsey’s attcking instincts, for this game.
We have proven to be short in midfield. So possibly how we deploy the team is as telling as the formation we use. We often do use players in the same pitch positions, and one can play a similar formation but with differing pitch areas. As aforementioned, tactics in my mind is key here, and we must do our best to out-think and “out-tactic” Conte.