Tactical masterclass from Mikel Arteta! Six months into his managerial career, he has already managed to win his first piece of silverware. There were so many positive elements to our performance. Let’s dive into it
Similar systems, but different levels of performance
Both teams matched each other up in terms of the 3-4-3 system. Arteta once again went with AMN’s experience at LWB, just like he did in the semi final. Whilst Saka on the left provides a greater threat offensively, the composure and discipline out of possession Ainsley provides is what was needed in a major cup final. Opening 15/20 minutes, Chelsea imposed their game, and were certainly the team showing greater energy. Jorginho was influential in possession during this period, with his line breaking ability, along with Kovacic carrying the ball and creating space for others. Giroud’s hold up play enabled a link to be established between midfield and attack. His presence in the box allowed Pulisic to get the opening goal.
The difference between Baku and yesterday, however, was our reaction to this initial setback. Massive credit must go the players and Arteta here.
Firstly, credit to Lampard in terms of the way he set his attackers out to press our back-line. It was a different type of press deployed to the one we faced against Manchester City. Pep sets his team out to press in a tactical way, looking to eliminate passing lanes. Chelsea, however, looked to force the issue from the get go, similarly to the way Liverpool press, by trying to stop us from having any fluidity in playing out from the back.
But this is where Arteta spotted a notable weakness in Chelsea’s approach. The high line played by their defence, because of this style of pressing, meant that the ball over the top would cause them serious issues. It was clear to me that Tierney was instructed, whenever he received the ball, to adjust his body shape in a favourable position that would allow him to put that ball over the top quickly, in between their right centre back and central centre back. And it was this pattern that allowed Auba to win the penalty, which he went on to finish superbly. Great ball from Kieran! The ball over the top to Pepe and Auba was a serious threat and allowed us to exploit their defensive defeciencies.
Impressive display’s from our two wingbacks
What was refreshing to see was the fact that we were utilising this 3-4-3 system to the best of our capabilities. AMN and Auba on the left with Bellerin and Pepe on the right. Combinations developed! Look how dangerous Pepe was! Why? Because he had a player in Hector who consistently provided him with support on the right, which enabled a healthy and sustainable partnership to develop throughout the game. Bellerin’s directness and the positions he took higher up the pitch occupied Chelsea players. What this did was allow Pepe time and space on the ball. That’s all he needs. He just needs someone to compliment his attributes. We are seeing that now from Hector and it’s allowing Pepe to flourish! I discussed this in my first ever piece which can be read here.
The same problems were created for Chelsea on the opposite flank, with AMN and Auba combining really well. That’s how you play this system. Laca drops in between the lines, holds the ball up and provides a link. The wing backs are then tasked to provide width and create supply lines out wide. We did this extremely well yesterday and it was a joy to watch.
Solid second half defensive performance
We knew that in the second half, Chelsea would have a period where they would dominate possession and once again take the initiative. That’s where as a collective unit, we would have to remain compact, disciplined and look to nullify any clear cut opportunities from arising. We did exactly that!
Both wing backs prevented crosses from coming into the box, meaning Giroud would have no influence within our box. Luiz was sensational. What I liked about his performance was his aggression and physicality, which helped him cope with the threat that Giroud provided. Xhaka grew into the game after a poor start, and provided the presence that was needed in midfield out of possession.
Beautiful winning goal
The goal that separated the two teams was unreal! Bellerin deserves so much credit and perhaps he’s now finally healing from the ACL. He utilised his pace to full effect and his driving run kick started the attack before Nico’s involvement. Pepe showed real intelligence when he recieved the ball. He could have opted for the shot as he set himself nicely on that sweet left foot, but spotted Auba’s position and then it’s all about Pierre. Lovely play to go past Zouma and then the composure! ICE COLD FINISH! I think all the doubters can dismiss the label of ‘doesn’t score in the big games’ now. Karma springs to mind for the red card. Jorginho at the emirates! Nothing more needs to be said really.
Dani’s outstanding performance
Dani, with a complete midfield display! Tenacity out of possession as well as showing quality on the ball. Broke the lines frequently which gave our attacking stars time and space on the ball to cause havoc. He is a player who has raised his levels significantly since Arteta’s arrival.
Martinez! What really impressed me was the way he commanded his area and claimed high balls with ease, which relieved all the pressure from our defence. He reminds me of Courtois in the way he deals with crosses and set piece situations. Some important saves as well early on in the game. Lacazette’s work rate and hold up play was solid. But let’s be honest, it was a great all round, collective, performance, with every individual performing to the level that was needed!
Arteta knew that Lampard would set his team out in a 3-4-3 system. Whilst we adopted a similar formation ‘on paper’, there were a few important tactical tweaks. Defensively, we adopted the 5-3-2 system which allowed us to cope with the threat coming through the wide areas. But in possession, AMN would tuck in midfield to make a three (4-3-3). This allowed us to gain a numerical advantage against their midfield duo of Jorginho and Kovacic, which in turn enabled us to maintain more control in the game. And when we did have spells of controlled possession, we were ruthless when opportunities arrived.
Arteta has shown on many occasions that he can compete in one of the games against the elite teams in England. He now has big results against Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea all under his belt. Give him the tools this coming window, which can allow him to start fully implementing his ideas!
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23 years of age, 23 years as a Gooner. Arsenal runs through my veins and it pains me to see the current position and state of the club. Reading many football articles over the years has inspired me to write blogs containing Arsenal analysis. I’ve always wanted my fellow Gooners to be aware of my thoughts and opinions of ‘The Arsenal’ and thanks to Dave and Paul, I now have a platform which makes this possible.