Chelsea’s dominating first half performance under freezing conditions was enough to ease past their London rival Arsenal. Let’s analyze the game tactically,
Chelsea wins the early midfield battle
Two teams opted for a similar formation by playing two midfielders in the defensive roles to gain early control. Coquelin and Diaby failed to stamp their authority with their lazy and in accurate passing. Chelsea midfielders took advantage of this as they dispossessed Arsenal so many times to win the midfield battle. It was all Chelsea in the first half. Arsenal looked clueless whether they need to defend or attack. Chelsea player linked well with each other and threatened Arsenal defense throughout the first half.
Performance scores and controversial goals!
The above picture tells the whole story of first half. Chelsea finished the first half with 354 points and Arsenal got negative points (-84). These points were calculated based on possession, interceptions, goal attempts and other things.
Mata opened the scoring with a controversial goal. Coquelin was clearly fouled in the buildup but it was Sagna’s poor positioning that gave Mata enough time to calmly finish the diagonal pass. Lampard doubled the home team’s lead with a well taken penalty. Even though it was a soft penalty, again Arsenal defense was the real culprit here. The men in blue tore Arsenal defense into pieces and deserved their two goal lead at half time.
Arsenal missed the master pass distributor ( Arteta)
When you casually watch any Arsenal game, you will say “Arteta just passes sideways, he is not world class etc…” but the truth is he plays a crucial role for Arsenal. He distribute passes throughout the pitch and helps Arsenal keeping the possession which is always the soul of Arsenal’s game play. Arteta rarely losses ball and he is good with his defensive duties too. They missed him much in today’s game. Even last season they struggled when he was injured. But blaming his absence in not an excuse for Arsenal. A club like Arsenal should have good backups for all positions.
Improved Arsenal, but Chelsea held the fort!
In the second half, Arsenal showed more intent. Their passes were more direct. Knowing their intent, Chelsea geared down and defended deep for most of the the second part. Cazorla who was invisible in the first half improved a lot after the break. He assisted Arsenal’s only goal of the game with a pin point pass to Walcott who finished it neatly past Cech.
Arsenal controlled the possession but still could not create any goal scoring moments. They need a player to link attack and midfield, in tactical terms they need a false nine player who can attack and also linkup play with midfielders and wingers. Chelsea had some chances to increase their lead from some counters. Torres and Ba both missed some easy 1vs1s but no worries as the blues take maximum points from the game to stay ahead of other London rivals.
Verdict: Typical Chelsea! Toothless Arsenal!
Here are some stats from the game,