Arsenal 2-0 Chelsea – Premier League Review
After the West Ham defeat, we made the Sarri’s side (and himself!) pretty blue.
This was a performance of intensity, pressure, pressing, and clinical finishing, and against another top-six side to boot. As a must-win game for our top four hopes, we did win, and how, based on “out-tacticting” Sarri and nullifying their key attacking threats like Hazard.
The team selection, which Emery was rightly critiqued for in the West Ham defeat, was spot on today, as he opted for a 433/4312, with Ramsey playing behind Aubameyang and Lacazette, and a midfield three of Xhaka, Guendouzi, and Torreira. Sokratis, Koscielny, Bellerin, and Kolasinac played in a back four, and Leno continued over former Chelsea player Cech, who of course recently announced his pending retirement.
We started off pretty brightly, with Auba having a chance after a few minutes, though under pressure from Azpilicueta in fairness.
Sokratis and Koscielny also had two close-range headers, though Sokratis headed wide, whilst Kepa made a good save from Kos.
We took the lead though via Lacazette, as he picked up a pass from Bellerin in the area, and twisted and turned to get a shot off beyond Kepa’s near post. It was nothing less than what we deserved, and we had demolished them from the start at this point.
Chelsea drew into the game, having some close chances through Hazard at the near post, and then Pedro who beat the offside trap to lob wide of the mark. They continued to press forward but lacked serious end-product as our defence managed to intercept whatever they attempted.
The second half followed a similar pattern, though we were more willing to sit back and hit them on the counter.
Hazard, Willian, Pedro, Alonso, and Barkley, all had shots on goal that Leno and the defence handled ably.
Chelsea had a lot of possession, and they ultimately didn’t have the means to threaten us.
It was a good win, and our top four chances have surely been enhanced by this.
This was a fine performance, though Chelsea didn’t impress. I believe it was a mix of them being bad and us making them bad.
Emery’s tactics today were spot on. The formation showed a desire to dominate the midfield, and our pace at the back ensured we could match Hazard and Willian.
Aubameyang and Lacazette also hassled their defence, and Rudiger and Luiz couldn’t cope with this. Kepa isn’t a bad keeper overall, but he had no chance with either finish.
Laca’s finish was exceptional, and Auba was sharp in the early moments.
What also was pleasing with this win was our defence. We managed to contain what they threw at us, though in fairness this wasn’t much, and we also made numerous key blocks to prevent them. Koscielny was up to it today. His goal came off his shoulder, but who cares really? He played excellently along with Sokratis and has redeemed himself amidst some recent bad performances.
Chelsea’s weaknesses were really surprising, and they only won the league two years ago. Many of their players today were in that side, such as Luiz, Hazard, Willian, Kante, Alonso, Azpilicueta, etc. Yes, they are in transition under Sarri, and he would need time to implement his style and “Sarriball”. Though on this showing, he has a long way to go. And their attacking play was limp, in that they couldn’t breach our defence (much maligned of course lately) very often in this game. Hazard also was muted, and in some ways is their equivalent of Ozil – in having great base technicality, but inconsistently applied.
As for the #EmeryOut points – well people please re-consider. I know it’s only a (foolish) minority who think this, but it was “el jefe” who utilised a tactical approach which won us the game here. Chelsea is a good team, and Emery out-schooled them. Simple as that. So much for a head coach who doesn’t know what he’s doing…..
It’s on to Manchester United now – and despite Sojksjaer doing well against lower-level PL sides, he’s due a defeat and there’s no reason it cannot happen vs. us in the Cup. Let’s ensure that they don’t equal our FA Cup record for another season.
To end on a sour note, the injury to Bellerin was not well-received, naturally. He has improved a lot this season, and I strongly believe he will be a world-class full-back in time. Let’s hope he can make a quick recovery.
Leno – 7
Bellerin – 8
Koscielny – 8
Sokratis – 9
Kolasinac – 7
Guendouzi – 6
Torreira – 7
Xhaka – 7
Ramsey – 8
Lacazette – 9
Aubameyang – 6
Elneny – 5
Iwobi – 5
Maitland-Niles – 6
Man of the match
He deserves it for us work-rate, wonderfully-taken goal, and all-around play. He was a major factor that we out-pressed and out-manoeuvred Chelsea.