Tactical Analysis of Chelsea vs Arsenal

Tactical Analysis of Chelsea vs Arsenal: Outnumbered, Outpowered & Overloaded.

Stamford Bridge not only represented a place where the Gunners hadn’t won in six years, but it also represented the last chance saloon for Wenger’s title aspirations. Arsenal went into the game nine points behind the leaders with not much hope for the rest of the season. Chelsea, on the other hand, were flying high and riding a coattail of momentum. Despite sitting clear at the top of the table the Blues came into the game with a chip on their shoulder, Arsenal are the only team to score more than three goals against them all campaign. They wanted revenge and they certainly got it.

With their title challenge hanging by a thread Wenger made 3 changes to the team ­that fell succumb to Watford on Tuesday. In came Theo Walcott for Olivier Giroud, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for the injured Aaron Ramsey and Hector Bellerín retained his place over Gabriel. Conte opted to only make one change from the team that earned a well-deserved draw at Anfield, Pedro came back in for Brazilian Willian.

Chelsea vs Arsenal Line up

4-3-3 vs. 3-4-3.

In contrast to most high-profile clashes the game didn’t start cagey or slowly, it was blistering from the start. Chelsea looked on edge to counter, ready to dive into any 50-50. Arsenal were also trying their best to match this intensity by zipping the ball around with pace. Alongside their intensity, Chelsea were diligent. They were more than to happy sit back, gift Arsenal the ball and pounce on the counter attack. Conte’s men only decided to press in splurges and not as a unit. However, there was always a player closing down the man in possession, whilst the rest of the team kept their shape. This meant Arsenal were never allowed to be comfortable in possession as well as being deprived of space to work in.

Arsenal attack

Chelsea comfortably retreating to a compact shape in their own half, ready strike on the counter.

Though it may have looked like a defensive set up, the Blues were the more potent in attack. They simply overpowered, outnumbered and stretched Arsenal in attack all game. At every opportunity, Chelsea aimed to overload a positionally inept Arsenal defence. On several occasions the front three of Hazard, Costa & Pedro assisted by the wing-backs would bombard into open space left by Arsenal’s pivot and attacking FBs.

Every turnover in possession resulted in Chelsea roaming through acres of space, with the pivot chasing back the Chelsea attackers. Chelsea were able to outnumber Arsenal every time they went forward, due to Wenger’s defensively weak system that relies heavily on 1v1 defending, something impossible to do against a team with Eden Hazard. Chelsea are a team very reliant on ball-carriers, both Hazard and Moses become the driving force of the team in transition. To defend against this, you must either stay deep not to allow them to catch you on the counter or press aggressively to stop supply to these carriers, Arsenal did neither.

Chelsea turn over

Diego Costa in acres of space with both Arsenal full-backs and pivot chasing back.

Despite being criticised for being tactically inflexible, Wenger did try to organise his team in a more compact manner. He opted to play Iwobi in the midfield three with Coquelin holding and the Ox going from box to box. This was probably done to offer more protection to the unfamiliar midfield pairing of Ox-Coquelin. The change pushed Özil to the left even though the German had tendencies to drift inwards. But the change was ineffective, using an attacking winger in Iwobi as a CM did nothing to match up to the physicality of Kante & Matic, the 20-year old was simply overpowered.

In attack, Arsenal were passive and found lacking in ideas to exploit Conte’s formation. The only weak point of Chelsea’s 3-4-3 system is the space left behind a wing-back in relation to their CB. Wenger should have instructed Bellerín & Monreal to occupy the wing-backs and then have Özil & Walcott occupy the RCB and LCB, leaving Alexis to roam or attack David Luiz. Going man for man is risky but it’s better than being passive and leaving yourself open to numerous turnovers.

The only aspect of the game Wenger can take any solace from is in the performance of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain through the middle. As we’ve said before, the Ox has all the attributes needed for the B2B role in the centre of the pitch. His pace is useful for recovery situations and driving through the middle to beat a press. He’s also strong in tackles and does well in 50-50 duels. The 23-year old also showed great discipline by maintaining balance alongside an erratic midfield partner in Coquelin who presses very aggressively with no rhythm.

Ox busing

Oxlade-Chamberlain maintained a 93% pass accuracy over the 90 minutes.

All in all, Wenger will be livid with his how his team for the second time in a week, rolled over and accepted defeat. Now they sit twelve points behind Chelsea and out of the title race, Wenger will now look forward to scraping a top 4 place and aiming for the FA Cup. However, many fans don’t see this as enough and are distraught at their beloved club bottling ANOTHER title challenge. For Chelsea, they’re now nine points clear at the top of the table with only 14 games left to play. With all those faltering around them and not an injury in sight, it’s hard to see who/what can stop Chelsea lifting the Premier League trophy in May.

About the Author Mathaeus Abuwa

Arsenal fan with a soft spot for Pascal Cygan.

Leave a Comment: