Tactical Points from Arsenal's deserved victory over Chelsea
By Vinay Shankar (Tactical Analyst)
A much-needed win after quite a while to ease the pressure and a platform to build on to start moving up the table:
Spark and energy were the two main things Arsenal needed to get out of the rut they were
in, with the absence of the experienced players due to injuries or illness turning out to be a
blessing in disguise.
From the opening seconds itself, it was so good to see the energy in the pressing being
much better than in recent weeks. The team seemed to have come out with the right
attitude and crucially, were the team pushing on the front foot looking to score first. This
is a sharp contrast to the last few games where we seemed lethargic and invariably woke
up only after conceding a goal.
What seemed to be a 4-2-3-1 formation on paper was a lot more fluid on the pitch. With
Elneny covering the right, Bellerin held the width down the right while Saka and Smith-
Rowe played as attacking 8s around Lacazette. Martinelli was always looking to attack
Reece James down the left, with Tierney backing him up by making delayed overlapping
runs from deep to create the overload.
The key part was how close to Lacazette either Saka or Smith-Rowe were when the
Frenchman received the ball, be it countering from the edge of their box or around the
centre circle in transition.
Defensively, Arsenal were not tested too much until the third goal thanks to how poor
Chelsea on the ball. They didn’t have the strength to hold the ball up against Elneny and
Xhaka, with Abraham the only exception. The main threat was always Christian Pulisic.
Whenever he picked up the ball, he was always a threat and creating havoc between the
lines but these moments were few and far between due to how aggressive Arsenal were without the ball.
Arsenal were progressing the ball from defence to attack with much more ease than in
previous games with the trio of Saka, Martinelli and Smith-Rowe always moving around
to find the space to receive the ball and make things happen. It’s amazing how much of a
threat Saka looks wherever he plays on the pitch. He has this knack of just finding the
right areas to drift in with the ball and cause problems. This gave a lot more dynamism to
the right side with the final ball the only thing lacking from that flank in terms of end
Chelsea’s main other threat was crosses from the right flank. Both Hudson-Odoi and
James were always looking to put the ball in the second half and Arsenal dealt with most
of them comfortably but tired legs took their toll in the end.
Ultimately, we needed some luck to get out of the mess we were in and the team hasn’t
been taking any risks in the previous games to create some luck. The energy and buzz of
youth seemed to be the spark that made things happen with a chance to turn the corner as
soon as possible.