Chelsea 2 vs 0 Arsenal
Chelsea continued their great start to the season with a commanding victory at home to Arsenal. They managed to take the lead through a Hazard penalty and they did what Mourinho teams do so well; totally stifled the opposition whilst carrying a terrific attacking threat due to the pace (of thought as well of feet) in their side.
I asked ThatsWengerBall to give me his thoughts on the game via the lens of the PPT, and his comments appear below the gif.
However, I wanted to mention the one facet of the game that was really noticeable with this PPT; Arsenal's total abandonment of the right side as an attacking option. Up until the point Oxlade-Chamberlain came on and provided width on that side, Arsenal didn't have anyone in that area of the pitch during the match. Watch the entire gif to see what I mean.
Ozil was the most right sided player, but he Cazorla, Welbeck and Wilshere were all primarily in the centre of the pitch. The lack of Arsenal players in that right side was so noticeable as to make me presume it was a pre-defined strategy for Wenger. If so, it changed immediately when Ox was brought on.
Definitely a strange one to play so many attacking players in the centre, especially against a Chelsea team that is so solid up the middle.
(Click on the image to open in a larger window)
- The central/left area of the pitch was very congested with Arsenal’s offensive players throughout the match. Wilshere, Cazorla, Alexis, Özil and Welbeck all occupied positions very close together which had both positive and negative effects on their game.
- Arsenal played to their strengths, almost turning their offensive game into a five-a-side style match. With little room in the centre of the park, the five aforementioned players exchanged tight angled passes and attempted a very high number of take-ons (40 between them).
- Whilst this successfully negated Chelsea’s physical advantage (the average height of their starting XI was around 4cm taller than Arsenal’s) and proved effective at moving possession into the final third, they struggled to provide the killer ball as there was so little space that every pass had to be inch perfect.
- Chelsea’s offensive play was a little more balanced, with Hazard targeting the inexperienced Chambers on the left and Schürrle or Costa acting as an outlet on the right. Whilst this proved effective at stretching Arsenal’s defence, Chelsea’s midfield 3 were unable to provide much support due to the pressure provided by Arsenal’s midfield overload. Oscar, Fabregas and Matic could rarely be found on the ball in the final third of the pitch and Chelsea only managed to complete 85 passes in that area compared to Arsenal’s 143.
- The shape of the game changed a little from the 70th minute. Wenger brought on Chamberlain who instantly provided width with his shuttling runs down the right hand side; however Mourinho knew he had the upper hand with the goal advantage and brought on Mikel to shore up the defence.
- Neither side massively impressed going forward, but in the end two moments of individual quality – Hazard’s dribble and Fabregas’ pass – gave Chelsea the three points.