We did it! And the manner in which it was done is like a food to the soul. We defeated Chelsea in our first London derby of the season and what a victory that was! Even though recent history didn’t favor Arsenal, Arsenal passed this psychological test which gave them a big boost in the title race. Looking at the formation, both teams seems to go with the 4-5-1 formation.
There wasn’t much surprise in the Arsenal line up, even if after the Nottingham game, one would have expected Xhaka and Lucas to start. Since that didn’t happen, we had the regular back line, the Coquelin and Cazorla partnership, Iwobi played on the left, Ozil in the middle and Walcott on the Right, Sanchez was the lone striker. In recent games aside the Hull match, it’s been a struggle for Sanchez playing up front alone but not this time. The Chelsea defenders couldn’t handle him.
The notable change in the Chelsea starting 11 was the introduction of Fabregas, who replaced Oscar. His inclusion in the team could be attributed to his performance against Leicester in the League Cup. A lot of Chelsea fans clamored for Fabregas to be in the starting 11 and he made it. Matic and Kante were to provide defensive cover for him, Hazard and Willian maintained the Wings, while Costa played up front
Both teams went into the game with steady tempo, although Arsenal kept more possession of the ball and matched Chelsea in the middle, pushed Chelsea back. Chelsea on the other hand sought for counter breaks early on, as they couldn’t play much from the midfield. Arsenal kept pressing and this led to the first chance on the game, Sanchez shot was deflected, after Walcott made a good run into the box.
Arsenal were relentless, kept charging and keeping pressure on the Chelsea players, this paid off, Sanchez made a run, charged Cahill and caught him under pressure from the midfield , stole the ball and his only challenge was Courtios, he lobbed the ball over and 1-0 to arsenal, it was a goal. Emirates was alive. Cahill dint learn from the mistake against Swansea, he clearly looked devastated after Sanchez scored.
Chelsea haven’t gotten into the yet, the first goal unbalanced them the more, it was a compact style of approach by the arsenal team, defending as a unit and attacking as a unit. Chelsea were struggling to get into the game early on.
Cazorla and Coquelin bossed the midfield, personally I think this was the best performance by both this season, it was total dominance in the middle by Arsenal, even the wingers were on top of their game. It was no surprise Arsenal scored two more in the first half.
The second half began and I was expecting to see more from the Chelsea team, and also expecting Arsenal not to match the near perfect performance of the first half. I was proved wrong. Chelsea offered nothing and Arsenal looked more like the losing side as they went all out for more goals.
Arsenal lost a bit of steel in the middle after the Coquelin injury. His replacement, Granit Xhaka did fine but you could sense the understanding with Cazorla was not quite there yet and this affected his movement.
Conte made his first substitution by bringing on new buy Marcos Alonso for Fabregas. This switched their formation into 3-5-2 with Azpilicueta and Alonso playing wing backs. This had an impact in the game as Chelsea got more of the ball, but couldn’t move forward, no plans with the ball.
Pedro and Batshuayi were brought in to replace Willian and Hazard in a bid to inject pace and apply more pressure. Hazard wasn’t in the game, he was locked out, just like Fabregas. Luiz was the best Chelsea player on the pitch, he sprayed the ball well from the defense, good passing range from a defender.
What was evident was that Chelsea needed a leader in the back four which was not visible. They missed terry no doubts, but would Terry have been able to keep up with the pace of Arsenals movement? I doubt it.
We were simply unplayable and long may that continue.
Thank you for reading, see you after the Basel Game