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How Chelsea's Attack Can Expose Arsenal's Defense (Again)

This season Chelsea have been on ultra-attack (bar Manchester City away). Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas, Andre Schürrle, Eden Hazard, even Nemanja Matic have all been amazing going forward. If last season the ‘Boys in Blue’ battered Arsenal six to zero then this next game vs them should surely end up with at least six goals for Chelsea and at most zero for the North London team. So how can the Stamford Bridge outfit do in order to annihilate Arsenal’s defence and thus show the world that London is indeed Blue?

1) Take advantage of Arsenal’s slow and unphysical central defensive pairing of ‘MerterScielny’

The last time the two teams faced each other at Stamford Bridge it was a joyous occasion for the home fans and a horrendous one for the away fans. The six to zero defeat that Arsenal were dealt that night exposed the weaknesses of the central defensive pairing of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny. Mertesacker weighs 85 kg(187 lbs) and measures 1.96 m(6’5″) in height; meanwhile Koscielny has decent positioning, height, and speed. On paper these two make a great defensive pairing and it shows on the field against inferior opposition, but in reality Mertesacker and Koscielny are neither ultra-physical(like Ivanovic or Cahill) or pacey (like Azpilicueta) or even that good at positioning themselves(like Terry). Those intangibles that the Arsenal centre-backs lack will prove to be the Gooners downfall come Sunday. Jose Mourinho has already stated that Diego Costa will indeed be in the starting lineup for the match and this is not good news for Mertesacker, Koscielny, or Arsene Wenger. Costa will terrorise these two in the same manner Chelsea did when they last met. Costa, unlike Mertesacker, is not afraid to be overly physical. Costa also has great positioning and is the type of forward that was born to counter-attack. It is expected for Arsenal to possess the majority of the ball throughout the game and also to spend most of the time they have it doing nothing with it (as always). Once the Blues’ midfield regains possession – don’t expect Arsenal to even come close to troubling the defense – they will most likely counter at speed, like last season. Mertesacker and Koscielny will try unsuccessfully to stop them, since they are too slow and not physical enough, and as expected, concede goals. More than once. Once Chelsea take advantage of this weakness that Arsenal have they can then go on to expose another weakness. If you want to see how Chelsea exploited this weakness last time click here.

2) Exploit the space left by the fullbacks

Much like Pep Guardiola, Wenger is an advocate of useless possession. Possess the ball most of the game in the middle third, don’t penetrate, lose the ball, get countered, concede, actually try to attack, lose the game. Since Arsenal love ‘attacking’ and possessing the ball so much they often leave Mertesacker and Koscielny at the back by themselves. Both Kieran Gibbs and Calum Chambers push up and try to ‘contribute’ to the ‘attack’ be it a square pass or a blocked cross. Like stated on the previous paragraph, Arsenal will lose the ball and Hazard, Oscar, and Schürrle/Willian, will counter and expose the area left uncovered in the flanks. Thus forcing either Mertesacker or Koscielny to get pulled out in a useless effort to defend the counter on the flanks which will most like leave Costa by himself or with either of the centre-backs (virtually the same thing) which will then lead to what will probably be Chelsea’s third goal… Of the half. All because Gibbs and Chambers were caught out of position. The only thing that has changed since the last game is that now instead of it being Bacary Sagna it is now the less experienced Chambers.

3) Quick pressure when off the ball

Arsenal do not only have sluggish centre-backs, no, they also have sluggish centre defensive midfielders. Be it Arteta, Cazorla, Wilshere, etc. Mourinho will yet again give Matic the task of dominating the paper-thin Arsenal midfield. Matic is basically a monster of a midfielder. A white Yaya Toure. He was always right on top of whoever had the ball in the middle of the park. The counter attacks for Chelsea started with Matic and the feeble attempts a counter attack for Arsenal ended with Matic. If Matic, Fabregas, and Oscar all pressure the kids in the tight red kits then it will be hell for Arsenal fans and a comedy film for the Blues Faithful. Here is a six minute video of Matic dominating the midfield.


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