MATCH OF THE WEEK: CHELSEA AND ARSENAL X-RAYED.
The second week of the 2018/19 EPL saw Chelsea and Arsenal clash at the BRIDGE. The new era at THE EMIRATES continued and the much talked about SARRI BALL was tested.
Both coaches made a few huge starting 11 calls, by sticking to last week’s starting 11, except EMRY dropping RAMSEY for IWOBI. This meant HARZARD, KOVACIC, TORREIRA, and LACAZETTE continuing their start of the season from the bench.
ARSENAL: the first 20 minutes of the game showed a very shocking and shambolic defending/organization from ARSENAL, a far cry from the little improvement they made in that regard in the match against CITY. Lackluster attitude in closing opponents down, allowing CHELSEA so much space and time to play.
Exhibiting a zero positional discipline, this eventually led to conceding 2 goals and forcing CECH into making saves. They say ‘old habits don’t die quick’ you could see the players are still much into their former ERA attitude. With little protection infront of him, BELLERIN was all over the place, while the 2 center backs kept poor high-line with poor sensitivity to balls in-behind.
Once ARSENAL improved in the aforementioned areas, the game suddenly turned around. In 20 minutes they deserved to maybe end the half with 5-3 lead. They continually found spaces behind CHELSEA back line, and created few tap in chances, with AUBA, MIHKITARYAN, OZIL and IWOBI squandering them, though IWOBI and MIHKI eventually scored to bring the game level on 2-2 at half-time. AUBA really had a very poor show.
With TORREIRA coming in at the start of second half, ARSENAL looked better structured and he made an instant impact by making some vital interceptions and tracking runs from CHELSEA midfielder ,though the half remained largely pedestrian. On one occasion he failed to track ALONSO after a poor play from LACAZETTE, saw the ITALIAN score the winning goal.
CHELSEA: started the game on a front foot, caused ARSENAL all sorts of problems. With MORATA and PEDRO willing to make runs behind the defense, CHELSEA was cruising and had firm control of the game and deservedly were up by 2goals after 20minutes.
We then saw a total capitulation from CHELSEA. They returned the favour to ARSENAL, by allowing them spaces, no pressure on the ball and consistently looking exposed at the back. Eventually conceding 2 goals and lucky not to end the half trailing ARSENAL.
10 KEY OBSERVATIONS:
ARSENAL BACK FOUR: evidently, this combination of back four for ARSENAL cannot deliver what EMRY is trying to do. If he is going to have any success with them, there needs to be massive step up by them.
BELLERIN is weak at 2 key elements of defending: positional discipline and one v one defending. It takes him so much time to get up to speed with the game. Though you cannot really fault the pair of center backs in this game, except MUSTAFI’s not stopping MORATA in the 2nd goal, yet they don’t look good enough at this level. Communication needs to improve among this back four
OUT FROM THE BACK: many criticized ARSENAL’s persistent on playing out from the back last week, they showed this week it won’t take them time to master it, with some calm and composed application of the style against CHELSEA. CECH did much better and pulled off world-class save s in the game as well.
XHAKA, TORREIRA and GWENDOZI: 25 minutes against CITY and 45 minutes against CHELSEA, TORREIRA has shown enough that he will be the base of the ARSENAL midfield and so far GWEN claiming the partnership with another MOTM display again. XHAKA looked off paced, insensitive to smell danger and inability to start attack from a defensive position. It will be a surprise to see EMRY continue with XHAKA in the next game.
AUBA/LACAZETTE: this partnership has to be accepted by EMRY. It seems to have natural chemistry. These 2 just know and love to play along each other. The earlier EMRY finds a way to start them together, the quicker he will achieve success at the EMIRATES. It was evident once again.
OZIL/MIHKI: EMRY might have to find another way to balance the team with theses 2 in the starting 11. They expose the team a lot and do not look up for the pressing game. This justifies why RAMSEY was deployed to lead the press last week against CITY.
WINGER: one of the main reasons ARSENAL struggled against CITY was due to lack of a winger to stretch the game. No outlet when they win the ball from deep situations. Their failure to sign a winger in the summer left IWOBI as the only player in the squad with that ability. IWOBI got the nod this time and performed very well and even got a goal. If he can maintain consistency with this kind of performance, it will do ARSENAL a lot of good.
KOVACIC: If CHELSEA are to persist with JORGINHO at the base of the midfield, then he requires better protection, and I think they have the man in KOVACIC to partner the magnificent KANTE in that responsibility. The new signing made great impact when he came on, and relieved a lot of pressure from JORGINHO.
PEDRO: this man looks like a new signing. Going by the last 2 games, I believe he is going to be key to the success of the SARRI BALL. He has found freedom to showcase his technical prowess. He has been a delight to watch.
CHELSEA BACK FOUR: This back four doesn’t look good enough. The balance is not right. ALONSO is as good going forward, but in the habit of exposing his center-backs. DAVID/RUDIGER partnership looks unlikely to stand the test of the league.
JORGINHO: SARRI will need to rethink JORGINHO’s role/position in the team. He seems not to possess the physicality and speed to cope with that role in this league. When pressure is applied on him he falters and the EPL is known for that. Teams are not scared to come at you, and this could cause the CHELSEA defense loads of problems.
Sports editor, C. Hub magazine. All rights reserved.
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