As many expected when the fixture lists were released, Arsenal have 0 points from two games. However, in Unai Emery’s baptism of fire, as well as the inevitable improvements that could be made, there were also some positives and I’ll try to assess a few aspects from both sides of the coin here.
Defensive Decisions Need to Improve
We all know Arsenal’s weakest area is in defence and that was made for all to see in the first half an hour at Stamford Bridge. Time and again Chelsea were able to cut through the Arsenal defence and this was a result of a few things.
Poor Positioning, poor communication and failing to force the issue. Here’s an example of what was seen repeatedly on Saturday.
This situation replayed itself too many times in different parts of the Arsenal half and ultimately, Arsenal deserved to concede the goals they eventually did.
Attacking Spaces Well
As the first half evolved, however, Arsenal proved to be very effective going forward and could have run away with the match. The biggest reasons for this were Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan who caused havoc for the Chelsea defence.
With neither being out and out wingers and preferring to take inside positions, this is what got Arsenal back in the game. In fact both of Arsenal’s goals came from them originally taking central positions and then ghosting in behind Chelsea full backs. Here’s an example:
Taking advantage of those spaces was the best method of attack for Arsenal on the day. Playing with wingers who were hard to detect as well as identifying the right spaces to attack inside the box was a great way to combat a Chelsea side who are also in a transition and learning a new footballing style.
Compact, but too compact
Off the ball, the second half saw a much improved Arsenal display. However, this did slightly take away from the quality going forward as transitions from defence to attack became less smooth the more compact Arsenal got.
Over the coming weeks, however, the change between defence and attack should become smoother. It was only the second game of the season after all.
Looking back over the game, although some of the negatives were glaring and disappointing, there wasn’t anyone that can’t change over time. It’s clear that the defence are all still getting used to each other as a unit in this new system so that’ll take time to get it the way we want it.
At the Bridge we also saw developments on other aspects of Emery’s style, however. Cech looked a bit more comfortable playing out the back as did the defence and this eventually led to Iwobi’s goal. A move that involved 19 passes. It’ll be interesting to see how this continues to develop over the next month or two.
Finally, despite giving away a costly pass for Chelsea’s winner, I believe Lacazette should still be in the starting 11. When brought on, Arsenal looked much better in attack as he bounced off Aubameyang well. But anyway, let’s see what happens next week when Arsenal welcome Jack Wilshere and West Ham to the Emirates.