Arsenal Poised For Another Chelsea Thrashing?
Chelsea vs Arsenal Match Preview – Premier League – 05.10.14
In recent years, I am sad to say, Arsenal have suffered quite a few humiliating results, 4-4, 5-1, 60 and 8-2, with two of them coming in one season (plus a 6-3 and 3-0 thrown in for misery rather than humiliation).
Arsenal, and Arsène Wenger, face the architect of one of those defeats today in Jose Mourinho and he’s not just any old adversary for Arsenal or Wenger, he is an adversary we haven’t beaten in 11 matches and as we play on his home patch, Stamford Bridge, today, the money is on Chelsea make it 12 matches undefeated for Mourinho. Arsenal are at 8-1 and I think there is a chance for us, more on that later.
Another architect of an Arsenal humiliation was Sir Alex Ferguson who dedicated a chapter in his autobiography to Wenger and the tactics Ferguson devised for playing Wenger’s teams. In the 14 matches against Arsenal before Ferguson retired he won 10 and that is a sure fire sign he had us almost completely sussed. In his autobiography he said this:
“In later years we learned more about Arsenal’s thinking, Arsene had a template of how he sees his players and the way they play. We didn’t need to win the ball against Arsenal, we needed to intercept it. You need good players who can intercept.” – Sir Alex Ferguson
Ferguson mused how Cesc Fabregas would nearly always “twist the pass round the corner then run to get it back on the other side of the defender” and his tactic or message to his players was “Stay with the runner, intercept the pass, then counter-attack quickly”. Arguably this is one of our best chances of getting something out of the game. First Barcelona and now Chelsea have inherited a weakness from a player who was once our greatest strength.
Fabregas has been nothing short of magnificent for Chelsea this season and his partnership with Costa has blossomed into an attack with the subtlety of a blunt axe but a blunt axe that is brandished with ferociously devastating force. However, as Arsenal well know, when you recruit Cesc Fabregas, and play to his strengths, you sacrifice a little defensive solidity in midfield. Possession of the ball being turned over slightly easier is a concession you make when you build a team around Fabregas and the peppering of assists and goals he brings – this can be worked to Arsenal’s advantage.
Mourinho will have thought of this already and as mentioned in his unofficial biography he has a tactic for the “big games” where, in short, he believes the team that makes the fewest mistakes will win and he correlates mistakes with ball possession which is why he always seems to park the proverbial bus in big matches.
Against Arsenal in December he strangled the game because he was concerned about our attacking prowess, a prowess that has doubled in size, resolve and ability with the additions of Welbeck and Alexis, and against Man City he attempted to do the same thing by playing Ramires but that particularly devious scythe-master isn’t available today which suggests a slightly more attacking approach from Chelsea, unless they play a duo of Mikel and Matic.
Exposing Chelsea the way they exposed us will be a tall order as the space for the counter-attacks that usually undo us in such games are found in the positions our full-backs should be occupying when there are invariably loitering around in the opponents’ half in hope we’d retain the ball and they could assist in an attack. (5 of the 6 Chelsea scored against us in March
Chelsea’s fullbacks are well drilled and they won’t leave such space for us to easily exploit – we will need to use pace, persistence and guile and thankfully, with the right personnel we have that in abundance. With Alexis, Welbeck and Chamberlain we have all of those things and Özil behind them offers vision and precision that rivals or beats anything Chelsea’s pass-master, our once hero, can offer. Yet this poses another problem for Arsenal to address before Chelsea can manipulate it – how to stay strong in midfield.
Cazorla was majestic in that role against Galatasaray but Chelsea are leagues ahead and possibly his ambidexterity, cunning and tenacity would be put to better use off the bench. Playing Wilshere and Flamini will leave us severely out-sized in midfield and for that reason I would take the risk on Diaby starting, even if he only has 60 minutes in him. Diaby has become a luxury player for us, we cannot rely on him being fit for any length of time – despite it looking on many occasions as though we have – and being careful with him hasn’t proffered better results. For that reason I feel we should squeeze what we can out of him when we can and today his size, strength, ball control and passing ability would counter Chelsea’s midfield dominance better than a diminutive duo ever could.
Remaining strong in midfield and lessening the chances for a counter will allow our German conductor to set in motion our best chances of exposing the Chelsea defence which by Mourinho standards has fallen well short so far this season. Chelsea can be got at and the game today will be won, lost or drawn in the midfield and more specifically the battle of the maestros.
I think Özil will be bang up for this one.
Arsenal from; Szczesny, Ospina, Gibbs, Monreal, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Chambers, Bellerin, Rosicky, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alexis, Cazorla, Flamini, Diaby, Campbell, Welbeck, Podolski
Szczesny, Chambers, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Flamini, Wilshere (I’d prefer to see Diaby), Özil, Chamberlain, Welbeck, Sanchez
I expect to see substitute appearances from Cazorla, Monreal and Coquelin.
“I don’t deny that history is against us with Chelsea. The thing about top teams is that they make history and they change history.” – Arsène Wenger
Last 3 Meetings
- Chelsea 6-0 Arsenal (22.03.2014)
- Arsenal 0-0 Chelsea (23.12.2013)
- Arsenal 0-2 Chelsea (29.08.2013)
Arsenal Last 5
Chelsea Last 5
Chelsea have been in rampant form this season and are unbeaten in all competitions. However, an argument can be made, certainly not by the Mourinho-loving media, that Chelsea have had relatively easy fixtures so far. I don’t think they have had overly easy fixtures but I do think they’ve conceded far too many goals for the teams they have faced and that gives me a flicker of confidence. Chelsea have often relied on outscoring teams and Aston Villa aside they have scraped victories or draws in their last five fixtures. Costa will be playing his third game in 8 days and if Mourinho was being genuine with his concerns over Costa’s ability to train and play so frequently then another window on the fifth floor has been left ajar for Arsenal to open.
- Arsenal have not beaten a Mourinho side in 11 games
- 42% of the goals Arsenal conceded in the league last season were against the teams that finished above them
- Both sides are unbeaten in the league this season
- Both sides have recovered from losing positions to take 6 points – the joint-most in the Premier League
- Arsenal’s last 5 wins away at Chelsea have come from losing positions
If we get this one wrong we could be on the end of another thrashing. I really want Arsenal to win this one because if we lose people will be losing their minds at us being 9 points behind so early ignoring the slight positive that we have more games to come back. The game screams Chelsea win but I have a feeling we could sneak this one – it would be incredibly tight if so and would require an almost perfect game from Arsenal’s depleted side and attack “in-training”. My head tells me a Chelsea win, my heart tells me Arsenal will win and my gut says it’s going to be a tense draw. I’ll go with my gut and say 1-1 with goals from Costa and Welbeck.
Thanks for reading! Please comment on this post, subscribe by email, share with friends and follow me on twitter (@thedanielcowan). Please check out the official NLIR Facebook page http://facebook.com/northlondonisredblog for news, views, freebies and more.
Don’t forget to tune into the funniest Arsenal podcast around “Goonersphere Podcast“
Advertise your business here! Click here for details .