Five things we learned from Arsenal’s defeat to Chelsea
Goals from Romelu Lukaku and Reece James means that Arsenal are now 2 games without a win neither a goal in the 21/22 Premier League campaign. Below are five things we learned from the game and what needs to be changed immediately to get back to winning ways:
Fix the Kieran Tierney & Pablo Mari problem
During the first half especially, Pablo Mari was getting outpaced, losing every physical battle and overall completely outplayed by Chelsea’s £93m man Romelu Lukaku. It came to a point that even the full-backs didn’t believe in Mari to dispossess Lukaku and had to come in to resolve it countless times. This was tactically a masterclass by Thomas Tuchel because drawing star asset Kieran Tierney into the middle to defend Lukaku as well allowed his marker, who in this instance was Reece James to receive the ball in open space as seen in the first and second goal.
The first problem is Pablo Mari because it’s obvious that no one in the defence trusted him going into duels, and then maybe to revert to a 3 back to prevent the space that Tierney was meant to mark to be closed down immediately. But he kept the 4 back and it didn’t work, and two goals of the same calibre were conceded in succession.
More finishing practice with the attackers
Chances are clinical when facing tough sides. Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe were both given run-ins on goal through the faults of Chelsea’s defence. So did Arsenal, and the main difference was that Romelu Lukaku could convert, while Bukayo Saka lost his footing and Emile was unlucky to not reach out far enough. But the story of the game was when given a chance on the plate at this level, it needs to be converted and that is why 0 goals have been scored in two games. Clinical is key.
Shoot more when in space
In the second half, the game was much more open. Creative players like Albert Sambi Lokonga and Emile Smith Rowe as well as Kai Havertz and Mason Mount had the chance to drive into the 18-yard box multiple times. Instead of working it into the net, take more chances from distance. Bukayo Saka tried around the 70th minute and went close after a deflection off Marcus Alonso. Close long-distance screamers give the crowd more hope and optimism, even if the deficit is larger than 2. On the rare chance, it’s likely to go in if there are more shots in open space.
Release the ball quickly to prevent possession loss
Emile Smith Rowe is very good on the ball. Almost every Arsenal fan can agree with that statement. But when under pressure on the ball, he can tend to lose his footing a lot and the same goes with Nicolas on the right and Bukayo centrally. The pass and go movement that gets taught to any person who wants to play football needs to be reinstated, but not sideways and backwards, it needs to be forward. Pass and go movement going forwards put pressure on the Chelsea defence, as seen in the last 20 minutes of the game. If the Gunners can keep that up consistently, more chances will be created leading to goals.
Don’t overuse the long ball strategy
A sign of frustration is an incomplete pass. This happened numerous times throughout the game simply from the Arsenal backline. Instead of playing into the holding midfielders of Sambi Lokonga and Granit Xhaka, Cedric Soares and Pablo Mari opted for long balls, which rarely found the front three and instead lost possession when it was too far for the wingers to get to. Short and direct passing was way more effective in the first and last 15 minutes and it seems that when Arsenal get desperate it’s suddenly lash the ball down to Kieran Tierney and Bukayo Saka or Nicolas Pepe who received no service most of the match- a common scenario that is happening to all the strikers that Arteta fields such as Balogun, Martinelli and the returning Aubameyang as a substitute.
Those 5 points are monumental to success. They seem easy but knowing Arsenal, they come at a heavy price. As I say every time if we can fix these key details, then hopefully we can return to winning ways again. See you on Wednesday!