Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Chelsea 0-0 Arsenal: Five Things We Learned from a Goalless Draw at Stamford Bridge

Milos Markovic in Editorial, English Premier League 17 Sep 2017

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If you think this match ended up being a boring London derby you could not be further away from the truth.

Chelsea and Arsenal did well to amuse the Stamford Bridge crowd and here are the 5 things we learned:

Final Score Not Painting the Right Picture Here

All in all, it was an eventful game at Stamford Bridge. The fans will have been disappointed by the goalless score but the result did not paint the true picture here as it turned out to be an intense game between two sides who did their best to score.

Antonio Conte will be the less happy of the two managers today as the Italian witnessed an uninspiring display from his team which got reduced to ten men in the closing stages after David Luiz received his second booking after a reckless start on Sead Kolasinac.

Arsenal put in a disciplined display to put off the Anfield nightmare behind them and ended up being unfortunate not to run away from Stamford Bridge with all three points. Ramsey struck the post while Lacazette missed a sitter but the visitors can be happy with a vital point on the road in the end.

Conte’s Tactical Surprises Didn’t Pay Off

Antonio Conte and Arsene Wenger mirrored one another with their 4-3-2-1 formations in Sunday afternoon’s London derby. Three players at the back is nothing to be surprised by as both managers have been playing this way for a while now but their starting line-ups did produce several surprises, however.

Antonio Conte decided to start his £40 million summer investment from AS Monaco Tiemoue Bakayoko from the bench, together with his arguably the best player Eden Hazard. And while the Belgian did have some fitness issues after recovering from his injury, Bakayoko was dropped for tactical reasons.

The Chelsea manager warned his player to improve both tactically and physically in order to earn his starting berth. Bakayoko replaced in the 46th minute and an entire half was more than enough to prove he took his manager’s advice and put in a commanding display in the midfield.

Ozil, on the other side, lacks flair and energy which comes as bad news for Chelsea supporters who will be eager to see the old Hazard as soon as possible.

No Ozil, No Sanchez, No Party…

Talking about the tactical surprises, Arsene Wenger pulled a fair share of his own. The Gunners started the match without their two best players Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez and although the Chilean got his chance from the bench, the German genius was surprisingly left out of the team entirely.

Wenger offered little explanation as to his decision, briefly informing the media that Ozil is injured for the occasion. We are not quite sure what kind of injury is troubling the Arsenal playmaker but we do know that his absence troubled Arsenal.

It is fair to say that Gunners are a different team without Ozil and Sanchez in their team. Ramsey and Xhaka had their hands full with defensive duties whereas the likes of Welbeck and Iwobi did very little to offer much-needed creativity and flair in the attacking third.

Sanchez’s introduction shook it up a bit upfront but the Chilean’s performance today will be remembered not for hte chances he scored but for did to make headlines was his uncontrollable laughter at Alexandre Lacazette’s missed sitter.

Arsenal’s Defense Line Held Fantastically

Arsene Wenger’s backline has been the subject of intense criticism for a longer period of time. The French tactician started off with four players at the back and later on switched to a three-man defence last season and it proved to be a right decision.

It took some time for all pieces to fall in their place though but it’s fair to say that Arsenal’s backline was the best part of the team on Sunday afternoon at Stamford Bridge. Intensely criticized Nacho Monreal and Shkodran Mustafi put in a superb display against the Blues and successfully fended off every threat to Petr Cech’s goal.

The German international has been particularly impressive. Mustafi pulled off a couple of key interceptions and also went on to score in the second half, but his effort was ruled out for an offside position much to his own disappointment.

Hector Bellerin on the right and summer acquisition Sead Kolasinac also deserve great praise for their respective performances. Arsenal’s wide men were running lines and helping both in defence and attack proving to be great assets on the occasion.

In the end, Arsenal were unlucky not to grab three points against the reigning Premier League champions.

Alexandre Lacazette Lack of Form Worrying

Arsene Wenger forked out a significant amount of money to land their long-term transfer target Alexandre Lacazette this summer from Lyon. The Frenchman introduced himself with several fine preseason performances but his current form is worrying.

Ups and downs are understandable as former Lyon striker needs to adapt to his new surroundings but being a top-class player that he is, Lacazette was expected to contribute with far more than mere two goals after five Premier League rounds.

Lack of goals is followed by a worrying lack of composure in front of goal, displayed once again at Stamford Bridge today.

Arsenal should have been in front after 42 minutes when Lacazette was left with the simplest of tasks from close range but the Frenchman latched on a rebound with a strike that somehow ended up flying high over the bar.

The Frenchman had another great chance to score, earlier in the match, when he ran onto a loose pass inside the box only to watch Thibaut Courtois calmly pick up his solid strike towards the middle of the goal.

CHELSEA: Courtois 7 – Azpilicueta 8, Cahil 7.5, Luiz 5 – Moses 6.5, Kante 7.5, Fabregas 7, Alonso 7.5 – Willian 6.5 (Hazard 6), Pedro 6.5 (Bakayoko 7) – Morata 6.5 (Christensen -).

Unused subs: Batshuayi, Caballero, Rudiger, Zappacosta

ARSENAL: Cech 7 – Koscielny 7.5, Mustafi 8, Monreal 7.5 – Bellerin 7.5, Ramsey 7, Xhaka 7, Kolasinac 7.5 – Welbeck 6.5 (Giroud 6), Iwobi 6.5 (Elneny 6) – Lacazette 6 (Sanchez 6).

Unused subs: Maitland-Niles, Mertesacker, Ospina, Walcott.

REFEREE: Michael Oliver

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Milos Markovic


Formerly a Chief Editor at the largest sports site in Serbia Sportske.net, Milos Markovic is an avid football writer who contributes to a variety of online football magazines - most prominently Soccernews.com and Futbolgrad.com. His feature articles, editorials, interviews and match analyses have provided informed opinion and views, helping the football aficionados keep up to date on relevant events in world football.

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