MATCH PREVIEW: ARSENAL LOOK TO REDEEM THEMSELVES AGAINST CHELSEA
Arsenal find themselves in in a downward spiral after losing their last three matches, the most recent a 1-0 loss away to Southampton. Coming out of the international break, a promising position in the hunt for Champions League has now turned into doubt about the progress that was very much evident only a month ago.
The Gunners have a chance to right the ship tonight but the task is a difficult one. They head cross London to take on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Its quite possible Arsenal find the swagger they had prior to departing for the last international break but its equally as likely they struggle and find themselves once again on the negative side of a result. Such is the nature of young team still trying to define itself.
Prior to the “slide,” many around Arsenal felt that Chelsea would likely get a result but that the Gunners could spring a surprise. That has gone like Arsenal’s grip on their top 4 destiny.
Mikel Arteta has a lot of questions to answer, about himself and his team. While he still retains the support of large portions of the fan base, the negative swirl that engulfed Arsenal in the early parts of the season are back and another loss will only make the din louder.
Its not all bad news though as in his pre-match presser, Arteta confirmed the return of right back Takehiro Tomiyasu. While he is unlikely to start, he could feature and any chance to solidify the defensive unit he helped before his injury is a welcome opportunity.
There still remain doubts as to the availability of striker Alexandre Lacazette. Social Media was abuzz of rumors of falling out between him and the manager as an interview he gave was released. Combine that with Arteta’s vague comments about the Arsenal forwards status being a “personal matter” you’ve got all the ingredients for a social media conspiracy theory.
Arsenal stand at the foot of a massive hill to climb, and that climb will start against a Chelsea side that just recently was 10 minutes away from advancing in the Champions League.
About the Opponents – Arsenal own mirror
Arteta has, on many instances, talked about how Arsenal have to impose their game on the opponent, instead of changing their game plan to counter the opponent. As of now, it seems rather bleak to expect Arsenal to do much else other than focus on themselves, in an attempt to regain a competitive mentality. So let’s focus on Arsenal for this one time instead.
Arsenal usually work with a 4-3-3 with a single pivot, that can move into a 2-2-5 or a 3-1-5 in attack, using the fullbacks to either push wide or invert into a midfield position, giving Ødegaard the freedom to move into a more classic 10 spot. In defense, Arsenal try to remain in a traditional back 4 defensive line, with both wingers respectively defending wide on overlaps. The midfield tries to stay on the front foot and deny central spaces, though there’s evidence of an issue of space between the lines and getting tight to dropping forwards.
Against Chelsea, Arsenal would do well to revert to a double pivot. Given the absence of Thomas Partey, Arteta does not have a player that can command the midfield in the same way, and while Lokonga has done a very good job trying to fill in, he’s still a couple of seasons away for doing that type of position alone. That being said, Arsenal should try their best to avoid Xhaka dropping into that LB space that is vacated as, possibly, Tavares bomb forward. While that gives us some solidity in defence, it also subtract from the number of bodies that are able to retain position when we’re invading the opposition’s half.
Arteta has a clear idea of how he wants his team to play, but with several key players missing, one could argue that giving players a certain freedom to impress and impose could bear fruit when playing a team that runs the risk of playing too strict, too staccato and too predictable within the guidelines.
Normally we don’t include lineups anymore, but given we’re in a slump, it makes sense to reassess our strongest 11 again. While there’s valid critique to Martinelli central, his desire at goal and his ability to drift wide and interchange, could help Arsenal stay fresh in attack. With Ødegaard behind, you have no excuse to not make every diagonal run available to try and create just a handful of decent changes.
What the Manager Says (courtesy Arsenal.com)
Very clear on them. Very clear with why we have lost the games and then give them more support and confidence and be behind them because it is what they need and what we are going to need altogether between here and the end of the season. When things go well it’s easy. It’s all about ‘we’ but when things don’t go that well, maybe it’s about ‘him’. I hate that and I’m the first one to try to apply myself to do that, defend out players, protect them and let them be who they’ve been because they’ve ben pretty good to be fair.
This game is about putting the ball in the back of the next and at the end f the last weekend with the results that we had in front of us, if we had won the game which you have to, with what the team produced, you are having a completely different story here today. I’m sorry but I can’t allow myself to analyse things like that, I have to look forward in a broader picture and be more reflective.
Arsenal Record vs Opponent (League only)
65 W 50 D 54 L
Goals Scored (Season Average)
Arsenal (Away): 1.33
Chelsea (Home): 2.07
Goals Conceded (Season Average)
Arsenal (Away): 1.53
Chelsea (Home): 1.00
xG per Match (via fbref.com)
Arsenal (Away): 1.33
Chelsea (Home): 1.84
Referee: Jonathan Moss
Assistants: Marc Perry, James Mainwaring
Fourth Official: Andy Madley
VAR: Darren England
Assistant VAR: Adam Nunn
Match Facts (courtesy bbc.co.uk)
- Arsenal have lost four of their past five Premier League matches, having previously lost just one of 11.
- The Gunners have been beaten in eight of their past 10 top-flight games in the month of April.
- A win would ensure Arsenal become the third club to record 250 Premier League away victories, emulating Manchester United and Chelsea.
- Mikel Arteta’s side have lost eight of nine league fixtures when conceding first this season.
- Bukayo Saka is the only English player to have registered at least 50 shots and created a minimum of 50 chances in the top flight in 2021-22.
- Chelsea ended a three-match losing streak against Arsenal in all competitions by winning 2-0 away in August.
- Arsenal’s 1-0 away victory in May last season was their first in nine Premier League visits to Stamford Bridge (D2, L6).