Arsenal regained its fighting spirit, achieving a home victory after a long absence in the English Premier League, by beating Chelsea (3-1) on Saturday night, in the 15th round.
On Boxing Day, Arsenal found a reason to celebrate, as they were the best and most deserving party to win, after their coach Mikel Arteta resorted to a series of adjustments.
Arteta’s amendments succeeded in correcting the team’s conditions, even if temporarily, to achieve a much-needed victory after a disturbing series of bad performances, especially at the Emirates Stadium.
The ambitious ArsenalEmbed from Getty Images
The most important thing that distinguished Arsenal in this deserved victory, was the required players’ arrogance, and their restoration of the desire to please their fans absent from the stands, and their understanding that the late position in which the “Gunners” are presently is not suitable at all.
This was the main reason for the victory, in addition to a tactical adjustment in the playing style, commensurate with the way the opponent plays offensively, after a series of disappointing recent results.
Arsenal adhered to his usual style, with some changes made to the squad, some of them were necessary, and others came as a result of some key players’ low level.
Arsenal looked as if they would follow the 3-4-3 approach, with Kieran Tierney alongside Pablo Marie and Rob Holding in the back line, with Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny positioned deep in the middle.
Hector Bellerin and Bukayo Saka stood on both sides, while the front line was formed by Smith Rowe, Gabriel Martinelli and Alexandre Lacazette, in the absence of the injured Pierre Emerick Aubameyang.
Sudden shiftEmbed from Getty Images
But as soon as Arsenal received the ball, the plan would turn to 4-2-3-1, with Tierney advancing to the left-back position, giving Saka the freedom to move left and right exchanging with Smith Rowe.
The lack of keeping the same position among the front-line players confused Chelsea’s defense, as Martinelli sometimes played in the penalty area, and other times on the wing, switching with Lacazette, especially when launching counterattacks.
Elneny and Xhaka did not advance at all when taking possession, unlike what happened in previous matches, when Dani Ceballos exaggerated in supporting the attack, leaving the egyptian Elneny alone without any support.
Arteta took risksEmbed from Getty Images
Arteta took a risk when he started by pushing Smith Rowe, but reaped the fruits after a balanced performance from the young player, while Martinelli was on fire in the front line, taking advantage of Lacazette’s experience in creating spaces.
On the other side of the field, Chelsea coach Frank Lampard paid the tax for not resorting to planning adjustments, although Chelsea’s problems have already begun to appear in the last four matches.
Lampard relied on the 4-3-3 play method, where the back line was formed by the quadruple Reece James, Kurt Zouma, Thiago Silva and Ben Chilwell. Matteo Kovacic played the focal point with the support of N’golo Kante.
Mason Mount has more freedom behind the attacking trio of Christian Pulisic, Timo Werner and Tammy Abraham.
A loosing betEmbed from Getty Images
Lampard bet on Werner returning to score goals after fasting in the last nine games, but lost the bet after the German international presented his worst match this season.
This match specifically, needed a leading player behind the attackers, able to create games with an innovative spirit, which was not present with the continued absence of the injured Hakim Ziyash.
And Abraham was not – despite scoring his team’s only goal – able to create spaces for his teammates, so Lampard was not successful in keeping the Frenchman Olivier Giroud as a substitute.
But it is calculated for Chelsea that they did not give up until the end, and if substitute Jorginho managed to translate the penalty kick calculated in the last minute into a goal, Arsenal would have lived a difficult 5 minutes calculated as injury time.