Well Done Gunners! – Why Arsenal Can Build On A Good Point Against Chelsea
Down the years, Arsenal have endured dismal results against Chelsea at the Stamford Bridge; most notably the 6-0 drubbing on Arsene Wenger’s 1000th game in charge of the Gunners, in 2014. Since then, things have not gone quite well for Arsenal at Stamford Bridge but Sunday’s 0-0 draw gave them a good point.
A surprisingly flat Chelsea failed to beat Arsenal, who were devoid of their two superstars Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil; the former was on the bench while the latter was injured. For large parts of the game, Wenger and his boys felt they could have got something more but a point in the end looked fair.
David Luiz created headlines for wrong reasons as he was dismissed for a high tackle on Sead Kolasinac but it was too late in the game for the visitors to capitalize. Overall, Wenger must be pleased with the point, particularly after knowing his side also avoided defeat for the first time in this fixture since 2011.
“I felt that was a game with intensity, with two teams going for it, battles all over the pitch, and we responded well. I like when the team shows that kind of response. I feel it’s a deserved point,’’ Wenger rightfully lauded his team’s battling performance after the game.
Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Chelsea gives Arsenal a breath of fresh air and an opportunity to build something. The overall display looked much more improved after the 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Liverpool at Anfield, where the entire team failed as unit. At Bridge though, they were well oiled, organised, disciplined, solid at the back and created enough chances to even win the London derby.
Both Danny Welbeck and Alexandre Lacazette had glorious chances to score, but the latter will rue his miss the most, after failing to tuck home the rebound from four yards out after Aaron Ramsey’s incredible effort came back off the post.
In comparison to the team’s display at Anfield, this was filled with grit and tenacity. The midfield duo of Granit Xhaka and Ramsey, who were outpaced against Liverpool, were chosen to run the show and they obliged. While Xhaka sat deep shielding the three-man defence by retrieving the ball from opposition, Ramsey did what he does best- spending most of the time forward, which worked well for him and the team this time. In a nutshell, Xhaka-Ramsey selection again showed Wenger trusts them to build a combative midfield partnership.
The three-man defence of Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi and Nacho Monreal looked solid, while wing-backs Hector Bellerin and Kolasinac showed industry from both the flanks. The tactical nous of playing with three defenders worked well against Chelsea but it remains to be seen whether it will work against different opponents.
Arsenal revolve around Sanchez and Ozil but Sunday’s performance showed their absence from first-team didn’t create much of a fuss, although the Chilean entered the fray in the second-half. The two superstars will have a big say if the Gunners want to challenge for the title, but the likes of Welbeck and Alex Iwobi showed great determination against the defending champions, signaling their desires to start games. Unfortunately though, Welbeck’s injury is serious.
Wenger would be eager to stick with the three-man rearguard for the next Premier League fixture, against West Bromwich Albion, who visit Emirates on Monday. Tony Pulis’ side are known for their defensive discipline, and it will be hard to break them down.
But first, it’s the start of Carabao Cup, where Arsenal host League one side Doncaster Rovers on Wednesday. Expect the Gunners to pass this test with flying colours.
It remains to be seen whether Arsenal, with the same plan can reproduce the kind of performance on a regular basis to have a shout for the title. For now, Wenger will be delighted to see his men finally answering the questions, thereby standing up as a unit after a rocky start to the new season.