Chelsea 0-0 Arsenal
Carabao Cup Semi-Final Leg 1
Stamford Bridge • January 10, 2018
Where did this come from?
My latest match reviews have been pretty morose.
Well, it’s pretty much on point, considering we’ve played the same bad stuff, and hit new lows.
But today, we did OK.
Chelsea had a stronger team out there, though we fielded a far stronger side to the one that was felled at Forest.
Overall, both halves had this pattern:
– Chelsea had more possession overall, and more clear-cut chances, however they didn’t really penetrate in our defensive third.
– Defensively, we looked very strong.
– Chelsea couldn’t really break us down, and overall looked quite average.
– We…..well..parked the bus. Yes, our footballing purist manager and strong advocate of the beautiful game went to his nearest Renault showroom (along with Michelin tyres no less) and got a nice, new shiny bus.
This was a pleasant change to the woefulness of the City Ground. Granted, it was a different team. But the performance was resolute, disciplined, and akin to the league game at their place.
This was impressive and whilst the media are talking about Conte v Mourinho it is certainly in fo0tball terms Wenger that has Conte’s number. With a win at home in the return leg, we can go to Wembley, again.
Wenger should be commended here, since he is developing more tactical flexibility. We’ve seen him alternate between back three and back four, with a back three tonight. However, tactics is not just about formation. It’s also about style of play, and how one uses the ball. We used it effectively, as we denied Chelsea space in the final third, and Wenger clearly held a defined game plan. And it worked.
Morata and Hazard were poor for them, and it was a good performance.
We’re a Jekyll and Hyde team, and the “good Arsenal” showed up tonight. The “bad Arsenal” didn’t, thankfully.
Ospina did well to keep his clean sheet (8), and Holding (8), Mustafi (9), and Chambers (8) all did well to clear crosses, deny space, intercept, and make clinical tackles.
Bellerin had a good game against his compatriot Alonso (8), and Maitland-Niles looked accomplished on the left (8).
Xhaka’s distribution was pretty good tonight, and Jack did well to get forward on occasion (7 each).
Welbeck worked hard as per usual (7), with Lacazette a bit muted (6) and possibly due to a lack of service. Iwobi, however…….he was poor, as per his recent games. The recent brew-ha-ha about his partying is one thing. Though this poor form has been evident for some months now. He needs to buck up, or be benched, and the latter may aid him now (4). He clearly holds talent, but then it would be nice for Wenger to ease him out, especially with his party antics in the forefront.
Sanchez was on the bench, and whilst he did lose possession often, he was attempting to try things (6).
Jack got injured, and was replaced by Elneny, who helped Xhaka bolster the midfield (6).
As for the manager, well Mr. Wenger did well. He is, albeit not consistently, changing his ways this season. He is approaching games in a more methodical way, though whilst not compromising his sexy football principles. It also makes things interesting for the fans, considering we don’t know if he will play with a back three or back four prior to games. It also makes things interesting for opposition managers.
The issue remains that we’re almost comical. Why can’t we play like this most weeks? If we did, there would be less contention, angst, antipathy, and vitriol. It’s a cliché, but then all fans want is a team that can provide consistent commitment. Trophies are nice, of course, but the Forest game showed we hold no supreme right to win anything. All wins must be earned. We didn’t win tonight, but we did earn a comprehensive and credible draw. If we can master this level of performance more regularly, then who knows? We’d at the least be comfortably in the top four, at the very moment.
It’s all to play for at our place in the return leg, and Chelsea are not that great. They won’t retain the league, bar a critical lapse by City. And Messi will most likely school them in the Champions League. They didn’t threaten us much, and I genuinely believe we are favourites at our place.
I’m glad that Wenger now has the number of a Chelsea manager, when Conte’s official predecessor did it to him often enough.
Man of the match
He headed nearly all clearances, and was able to shackle down Morata and Hazard. He can be an asset for us for years to come.