Chelsea 3-2 Arsenal – Premier League Review
Another “acceptable” loss……
The “Kings of London” derby ended in a defeat.
And like the City game, it was a mix of bad and good.
The bad was poor defending and positioning.
In some cases, our finishing wasn’t that good either.
But the good was shared via character, improved resilience in the second half, and passing it from the back without much difficulty.
However, Chelsea hasn’t always been a happy ground for us, and this trend continued.
We started this game very poorly. Chelsea were pressing us very high up the pitch, and Willian, Kante, and Pedro were elemental in this. Our midfield and defence couldn’t cope that much, and we were punished for this by going two-nil down.
The first goal was from poor tracking on our right and in the middle. Alonso managed to square the ball and Pedro beat our defenders to score past Cech. The second followed a golden opportunity that PEA missed, which a player of his quality should have buried. Bellerin got in behind their defence, and with much to aim at he hit it over the bar.
However, Chelsea’s transition was excellent, and we were caught out to allow Morata to score.
We then switched it around, and both Mkhi and Iwobi scored to equalise. They both also missed good chances, akin to PEA, though they redeemed themselves thoroughly with two great finishes.
Towards the end of the first half, we looked sharp, and were possibly unlucky not to get a third.
The second half saw us sit back a lot, and we managed to absorb Chelsea’s attacks. However, Sarri brought on Hazard and Kovacic, and this changed the game somewhat.
The intention was to alter their dynamic in the final third, and Hazard did dribble towards us. But I think the Chelsea goal from Alonso was as much about poor tracking than Chelsea’s attacking threats in the final third.
Marcus Alonso slipped in behind our defence from a Hazard low cross.
We looked to get forward when we could, but ultimately didn’t create as much as in the first half.
Lacazette, Ramsey, and Torreira came on for us, but didn’t have the impact intended.
Like the City game, there were some positive to take here, despite the defeat.
Our opening 20 minutes or so was weak. Very weak. I genuinely thought that they would stuff us at that point. They clearly had a plan, in that they were pressing us high up the pitch, and that our midfield was not coping with their strength. Willian especially was instrumental in this, as was Kante.
However, we had a lot of chances to score, and we take them. Aubameyang is quality, but thus far hasn’t fired as much as he should have.
I believe our midfield balance wasn’t right at the start of the game. I would not have started Xhaka, since I don’t think he can bring this balance between creativity and doggedness. Torreira possibly hasn’t gained fitness, but then Guendouzi did well again. For a player few of us had heard of, he’s done very well against two of the top teams in the country.
It’s not all bad though. Playing out of the back is a patent work in progress, and we didn’t have the same issues and dilemmas as the City game. Emery did make some tactical changes to shore up the midfield. And in the second half, we were largely more defensively resolute. Our pressing was good too in parts, though evidently bar the inept opening 20 minutes.
Like City, it was perhaps an acceptable loss.
It’s still WAY too to question Emery or his value as manager. Nonetheless, we’ve been thrown in the deep end, and it’s been mostly bad, but with some good.
There are signs on which to improve, and we played well in parts. I predicted a draw, though on another occasion we may have got more.
The home game vs. West Ham is a prime opportunity to iron out our flaws. This includes welcoming back some old boys to boot.
Cech – 7
Bellerin – 5
Mustafi – 6
Sokratis – 6
Monreal – 6
Guendouzi – 6
Xhaka – 4
Ozil – 5
Mkhi – 5
Iwobi – 6
Aubameyang – 4
Lacazette – 5
Ramsey – 5
Torreira – 5