The ‘Will He Make It Before Kick-Off’ Chelsea Preview

Hands up if you thought it was a 4.05pm kick-off and decided to watch a street robbery in Las Vegas knowing that you still had plenty of time to write a preview this morning? Yes, me too; c’mon the queue at ‘Thickos ‘R’ Us’ isn’t that long.

Much of what I typed in the wee small hours – why are they ‘wee small’ when the Scots for ‘small’ is ‘wee’ – is redundant-ish. Mesut Özil is out with a muscle injury according to reports I’ve seen through my bleary eyes.

It’s too soon to declare this season over and done with as far as the title race is concerned – not for Arsenal, we were never in it – but the gap to the current leaders of the table is ever-widening. Not because they hit Watford for six or they’ve scored 15 in their last three games. That means nothing; I remember 1991 when Liverpool stuck seven past Derby and a week or two later we laboured to a 2 – 0 win; which side won the title that season?

The gap is the ruthlessness. City possess an attacking verve we lack. In all honesty, unless they are selling a player – Aguero – why do they need Alexis? That’s just a bully putting your face in the sand and then sticking their foot on top of your head.

The danger for City is the same as in the past: they flatter to deceive. Defensively, they aren’t solid but for most games that will be enough. United and Chelsea are different beasts; well-organised and hard-working. They are the genuine threats.

Us, Liverpool and Tottenham are fighting for the order of the top six. Until the managers come up with a cohesive plan to address their squad’s weaknesses, the top three remains a pipedream. Fortunately, winning at the online casino NZ is far easier.

The Discussion About Today’s Game We Might Have Had In 292 Words

The discussion is always about whether it’s Alexis or Welbeck. For this fixture, it’s the wrong discussion. We’re labelled the underdogs at Stamford Bridge today and quite rightly do. Our form in the big matches away from home suggests that underdogs is quite generous..

The onus is on Chelsea to attack and we have to be alive to the opportunities on the counter. With Welbeck on the flank, or facing Alexis, Chelsea’s right-wing back has an element of doubt; he has to be aware of the potential to not only exploit the space he leaves but also the goal threat.

Mesut Özil’s forte is creation. I believe he’s a luxury in this type of match when being direct provides more chance for us to nick a win today. And let’s face it, if we’re going to take three points, they will be pilfered rather than won with a swagger. I’ll say it now: I don’t care how we win, so long as we do.

The question is whether we can do it? Of course we can, it’s whether we believe we can. The television will tell us that Chelsea want revenge for the FA Cup final; they don’t, it’s a media construct. All Chelsea want is three points to sate their title aspirations.

The Cup final angle is just hype, tapping into fans emotions. However, we need the discipline the midfield quartet displayed then to be reproduced from kick-off. If Ramsey goes charging off, cover has to be in place. And he has a responsibility to know when is the right time for those attacks and not be overcome by the adrenaline of the moment.

My line-up for the day is:

Cech; Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Bellerin, Ramsey, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Sanchez, Lacazette, Welbeck

Continued

Aspirations for today are high, hopes are not. Stamford Bridge has long been the graveyard of our dreams. The run of 17 games unbeaten – or whatever it was – seems so long ago. We could even give Chelsea a goal head-start and still be 2 – 1 up by half-time.

Now, memory banks are dredged for wins. Is it still the magnificently barmy 5 – 3? (It is, I’ve just looked). The situation today reminds of 2008/09 more though. We were out of sorts and injury-riven but still conjured up a 2 – 1 victory seemingly out of nowhere.

It’s that kind of spirit we miss on a regular basis. It’s that kind of spirit we need to rediscover on a regular basis if we’re to get back among the challengers again.

Ominously, we lost 2 – 1 to Burnley (then of the Championship) in the League Cup the very next game. That was Wenger’s first defeat to a lower-division side, IIRC. That’s the spirit we still conjure up on a regular basis.

However, today is going to be a good day. We’ve shown that we can beat Chelsea with discipline, hard work and a lot of flair. The Community Shield may be an overblown pre-season friendly but clawing back to 1 – 1 showed more application of effort than the thumping we took last season at Stamford Bridge.

A better result today please.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

144 thoughts on “The ‘Will He Make It Before Kick-Off’ Chelsea Preview

  1. I know I may be in the minority, but I think that C is not in the minority, even if some think he is in the minority, in saying we were better without Özil and Sanchez today, and then reminding us they were the driving force behind the team for the FA Cup, and ipso facto the best players!

    Nothing wrong with calling both sides of the coin!! 😀

  2. C,

    C,

    Is it Wenger’s job to put in a performance? He’s to select a team of players which he thinks will best deliver his plans.
    Wenger’s not gonna kick the ball for the players…. He makes decisions which at times might not come off as expected (is there’s any coach like that – none).
    Was benching Alexis today the correct decision?
    Would the team have played better if he was on the pitch?
    If we’d lost, you’d say it’s the wrong one; we drew and the team played well even the absence of Ozil and Alexis. We were soundly beaten here last season with them – but won at the Emirates also with them.

    So as Arsene always say, it’s down to the performance of the day. He can only adduce reasons for a bad performance – Ox was one of our best towards the end of last season, and Giroud’s goal won us the Leicester game.

    Dropping Lacazette and Sead – who are new players – might not necessarily be the reason for the loss. By the way, Alexis started that match.

  3. HenryB,

    They are our best players. It doesn’t make them the best selections for every game. Form, fitness and the opponent should be considered.

  4. Oludotun,

    If the manager has so little responsibility for the team performance why do we need him, or at least why do we pay him £8m a year if he has little influence?

    Good performance today, as already mentioned it’s funny how playing players in their correct positions (especially at the back) helps. Hopefully the lesson has been learned and we will not see any more daft selections.

  5. Decent point away at the Bridge. Remarkable that we played better and dominated Chelsea in first half with no Ozil or Alexis.

  6. I don’t think Iwobi contributed too much, though. I wouldn’t have started him today after starting him as CM Thurs. But he didn’t play badly, kept possession but didn’t contribute much to pressing or creating much. Was relatively anonymous, like Ozil often is in these big away games. But without the killer ball forward.

    And I would have subbed him off instead of Lacazette.

  7. One question I had was why Mustafi started centrally rather than Kos? Mustafi looked early on second best to Morata several times which creates chances for Pedro and other Chelsea attackers and the fouls might have gone against him with a different ref on a different day–close calls. Mustafi grew into the game though and the defending was better after that time Mustafi fell asleep for the Pedro chance.

  8. I also think Ramsey played well and believe the rest in Europa was valuable for him especially given how much he runs. What was good today was that he was disciplined and judicious about those runs into the box. He ran much but in a smaller area and helped dominate midfield much of the game which was a surprise. More of this please.

    But the Europa rotation may allow us to be fresh for PL. if it was the opening group CL match, AW would never have rested Ramsey.

  9. Fantastic result today and a superb performance on the defensive end. We are definitely a contender for the 4th place this year. Why can’t we stay solid and organized like that more often?? The defensive inconsistency is one of the defining features of the Emirates era and the only constant thing about the Emirates era is Arsene so he has to get the blame for building a team that concedes 4 against Liverpool and looks miserable and then is able to put in a defensive performance like today.

    I think we are clearly a better team without Ozil. He has been invisible a lot more often then not during the last 20 months of football and if he is not adding something special on the attacking end then he is a liability and we are better off with him on the bench.

    We are clearly not a better team without Sanchez. He might give away the ball more often then we like, however, we have been shut out in 3 out of 5 games so far this season without any contribution from Sanchez. Today was a great defensive performance but our defense is far to inconsistent to carry us this season. Without Alexis our starting 11 only has 1 player who is a threat to finish with double digits in league goals and if they stop Lacazette we are unlikely to score. If you do the simple math, without the production that Alexis can give us we are going to have a very tough time competing for 4th place.

  10. Oludotun,

    You right is it Arsene’s job to select the players but it is also Arsene’s tactics and subs that can make the difference. Do I absolve the players if they play like shit, nope I’ll call them out too but I also give credit were its due, the team played well today and that is something that we have wanted from them in the big matches especially away from the Emirates.

    Would the team have played better if either of them were on the pitch, we honestly don’t know because they weren’t but the players today played well and showed some fight. I was just putting forth my opinion because yes we got the draw and that was a massive boost in confidence for the players that were on the pitch but we also don’t know if Ozil would have played ‘that pass’ to unlock Lacazette to finish, or we don’t know if when we were on top of them either Ozil or Sanchez wouldn’t have produced that bit of magic that quite frankly in this team thye are most likely to produce.

    Arsene got it spot on today, BUT we have also seen performances like Liverpool where Sanchez started yes, but then Arsene also started Ox to the forcing Bellerin on the LWB position and starting Giroud who has proven to be not up to starting standards but really good coming off the bench.

  11. HenryB,

    Exactly my point, yes the team selection was spot on and the team played well today but to suggest we are a better side in the PL without Ozil and Sanchez is a headscratcher for me. Yes defensively we were solid and the effort put forth today was nothing short of superb, but I wonder what people will make of the fact that we didn’t have a single shot on goal in the 2nd half.

  12. Bill,

    We played better today with Alexis on the bench actually. Not denying he is an impact player however. He’s top class.

  13. Limestonegunner,

    Mustafi plays centrally because in a back 3 he is much better and more comfortable on the ball than Kos. I think the other thing is that Mustafi is the ‘organizer’ of the defense taking over for Mert and it allows Kos to just be Kos instead of trying to be the leader of the defense. Mustafi I thought, as you noted, grew superbly into the game after that Pedro chance but I think so did Kos .

  14. I also thought Bellerin played like the Bellerin we know he can be and not the Bellerin that switches off from time to time. His final ball today created the chances in the first half and if not for poor finishing by Welbeck on the header and the half shot by Lacazette that still forced Courtious to make a save, he would have had two assists and was really good defensively too.

  15. Given our previous in Premiership games against top six sides, that was a very good performance. I’m not sure who it was, but someone said earlier how much difference it makes when players are played in their correct positions.

    It could be that Wenger has finally stumbled onto his best defensive line-up, I hope he realises this and doesn’t make any more stupid attempts at playing full-backs at centre back etc. Kolasinac has been a revelation, strong, pacy and determined he has made an enormous difference, he really looks as though he knows how to defend.

    Ramsey getting the MotM was a head scratcher for me, if he could only learn to turn with the ball at his feet he would be so much more effective.

    That was certainly one point more than I expected.

  16. C,

    He doesn’t seem like the organizer so much to me. But I think he might be a better passer. Also Kos might be faster and need that for wider CB’s.

  17. C,

    Agree. Bellerin had a very fine game. Sead was contained a bit. His physical force didn’t overwhelm the stronger Chelsea defenders.

  18. Limestonegunner,

    Exactly, Kos has that quickness and pace to play as the RCB to deal with the balls down the channel. I think Mustafi is much more the organizer than Kos is and much more vocal. I also think he is better in the air than Kos and on quite a number of occasions he challenged and got the better of Morata in the air.

  19. Limestonegunner,

    Bellerin was really good and it forced Alonso to not just bomb forward like he normally does and in the first half he was forcing Pedro or Willian to drop deeper and defend which really helped when we were on top of them. Sead wasn’t able to bomb forward but I thought defensively he showed that he is PL quality.

  20. C,

    He is more vocal, you are right. But I don’t agree Mustafi is better in the air. But I can see some sense to it as you explain.

  21. Orson Kaert,

    I think Ramsey will always get MOTM because of his work rate but I actually thought that there were a couple others like Xhaka, Bellerin, Kos, Mustafi and Nacho who were better but are more efficient in their duties than just sheer workrate.

    With that said though, Ramsey was more disciplined and got forward well, I think the one thing that is crazy is that for a player to get forward so much, he really does lack end product.

  22. C,

    Good point. Sead did defend well. That was important to see. Bellerin really torched Alonso a few times; I enjoyed that.

  23. C,

    I thought Rambo did have a good game and was more judicious with his runs and disciplined about his work and positioning. Our midfield really did well and we were stronger in that part of the pitch requiring Bakayoko to come on for Pedro. That has to be credit to Ramsey to some extent.

  24. Limestonegunner,

    I think him being more vocal most certainly helps the players around him because he is constantly explaining and talking to his players.

    For me, the one thing that Kos struggles with is players like Morata who win a lot of those aerial duals and the more physical strikers and Mustafi seems to play better against them than he does against the quicker pacer strikers. Its like they are opposite but compliment each other in that respect.

  25. C,

    I haven’t noticed that but you might be right. I think of Kos as the best 1 v1 defender to mark the CF usually. Mustafi’ experience as a RB makes me think he would be better on the right side. But overall they did well today as lined lined up. But I thought especially early on Morata was giving Mustafi a hard time and thought Kos might defend him better.

  26. Limestone

    We put in a very good defensive performance today. However, we also did not score and we have gotten nothing so far from Alexis and we have not scored in 3/5 of our games. What works for 1 game such as today won’t necessarily work over the course of a full season. Other then Alexis and Lacazette who do you expect to help carry the scoring load? I don’t see us leading the league in clean sheets and if you do the math and add up how goals we might score its a reasonably safe to predict that we will probably end up with a bunch of 1-1 draws. I just don’t think we have enough firepower in the squad without Alexis.

  27. NetBulger

    You said, “Funny to read the blogger’s pre-match negativity”. However, in today’s post, I said, “However, today is going to be a good day.”

    Next time you try to be a smart arse, try not to make yourself look a complete twat.

  28. That was nice, starting to feel like we’re chavski’ bogey team. I think that match where we turned them over 3nil in like ten minutes has mentally taken its toll.
    it seems they have taken a winter leaf out of our book and traded physicality for “skill”, or in their case, deep sea divers.

    What was, is, always encouraging was Ramsey actually takin some responsibility and covering for granite. Who really lives up to his name in the mobility stakes. He stuck to Kante like glue today and chose the right time to venture forwards.
    Danny Boy, unfortunately wasn’t being fed green banana up in Manchester so a set back was always on the cards. Pity, he’s ahead of Oliver for good reason. Shame, we loaned out Perez Though a dude named akpom probably experienced that weird type of happiness when a friend’s misfortune hints at personal benefits.
    bellz deserves a shout out, pace vs power, Alonso vs bellerin. Wasn’t completely out muscled and gave him all sorts of problems offensively.

    Title still on, fancy that…

  29. Bill,

    I’m pretty sure that being disciplined and organised would be better then being gung ho and taking risks in most games. Especially against the teams who set themselves out to be strong defensively. It has been the gung ho attitude to matches against teams such as that which has been most damaging. I’m thinking specifically about the games against West Brom, Palace and Watford last season as prime examples. We have another of those coming up a week on Monday week against West Brom where a performance like today’s should see them off, but we have a tendency to go into games like that expecting to win. Not really sure why we expect to get a result against a Pulis side when he loves nothing more than to frustrate us, but we still have this arrogant approach which ends up biting us in the arse. I’d much prefer if we turned up and did an organised and professional job on them.

  30. YW: NetBulger
    You said, “Funny to read the blogger’s pre-match negativity”. However, in today’s post, I said, “However, today is going to be a good day.”
    Next time you try to be a smart arse, try not to make yourself look a complete twat.

    YW, that’s one way of welcoming a relatively new commentator to your blog.

  31. I think on of the major reasons for the defensive success today was our ‘in possession’ play from the back. We almost went to a 4-1-3-2 or a 4-1-4-1 during our attacks, playing the ball from the back.
    For example, when attacking from our right Kos would take up a rishta back position, with bellerin bombing forward, but Kolisinac would tuck in as left back and Mustafi and Nacho as CBs. This made the transition into defense a lot easier when we lost the ball in the mid field and also reduced the midfield space.
    If you recall in the previous games, especially the one against Pool, where Holding struggled playing the same role as Kos on the right and with both wing backs forward we were left woefully short at the back.
    I think one of the reasons we have struggled with the back 3 is this transition, which worked well today.
    Also with the back 3 when we did not have the ball, the middle centre-back has the license to go chase the ball and attack it in the midfield area, with the LCB and RCB as covers, even if the Middle CB messes up we have cover. And that is where the tweak to have Mustafi central has worked. Mustafi is more aggressive then Kos and likes to win the ball higher up, which can be a real problem when you are covering. If Kos is central and he losses out in a challenge, we saw Mustafi aggressively trying to win the ball rather than playing it more safe and delaying the attack till more arsenal support arrived. Hence we repeated saw Nacho having to cover the entire back line with MCB and RCB out of position.
    With Mustafi central, Kos and Nacho are a lot more reliable cover. It’s similar to what Chelsea have with Luiz given the license to attack and Azpilicueta and Cahill covering

  32. Tactically our midfield duo of Ramsey and Xhaka has been seen as weak and something to run through or pass over. Today it wasn’t so. Old-fashioned guys say you need a defensive midfielder to cover for the defense, but today it looked like our 3 CB’s, each in turn, rushed upwards to cover for the the two CM’s.

    And after recovering control, we spread the ball to the two wing-backs to cool things down.

    Interesting.

  33. nicky,

    In a nutshell. I think this will serve us well going forward with a run of kind fixtures in 3 competitions. Thr key test for me will be City and Spurs in November. Get past those fixtures with 4 points after a good run and we should be able to get top 4.

  34. I think it’s important not to get carried away, we got a hard earned point away to a good side. We created some very good chances, and defended well. On another day one or two of those chances may have gone in and our clean sheet would have gained us all three points.

    The reality is though, we didn’t take those chances and Cech had to pull off a couple of good saves to keep us in the game.

    We need to carry the spirit and endeavour into the West Brom game and beyond.

  35. Great review Yogi

    Really a superb game yesterday in terms of our performance on the defensive end and certainly not something any of us could have predicted. The defensive solidarity was superb and begs the question regarding where was that at Anfield or even Stoke. Defensive inconsistency has been one of the major hallmarks of the Emirates era and suggesting that we have found something new and special is probably not realistic since the number of false dawns in the last 13 years has gone well into the triple digits. We are 6 points out of first after 5 games and we are on pace to finish about 45 points behind the leaders. However, we are required by law to put together a good 1/2 season every year and perhaps this is the start of a good run of results that will bring us back into contention for 4th place

  36. We can certainly play reasonably good attacking football without Ozil in the line up. Ozil is a flair player and his job is to do things that give the team flair and to make things happen. He has not been doing those sort of special things for the last 18-20 months on the attacking end and unless he somehow finds much better form for the rest of this season we are better off without him in the lineup.

    On the other hand so far this season we have had almost no contribution from Alexis and it really shows with the fact that we have been shut out in 3 of our 5 games this season. If you look at the starting line up yesterday we only had one player who is a threat to score in double digits in league goals and if you do the math its clear that without Alexis we don’t have enough firepower and we are probably going to see a lot of 1-1 draws. We need to figure out how to defend like yesterday with Alexis in the lineup because we are going to struggle to score without his production.

  37. Lacazette looks like an excellent addition but at least so far he does not strike me as someone who can carry the team’s scoring load by himself and win the golden boot. 18 league goals would be a good return for his first season. Even if he does score more then that we need a someone else to be a secondary scorer and we don’t have that in our squad without Sanchez. Giroud and Walcott are our other options but neither looks like he will get a lot of playing time in the PL games this season. Giroud has a great season last year as an impact sub but I certainly don’t expect him to be as efficient this season and no way he scores 12 league goals again this season and no way Walcott gets double digits unless he replaces Ozil in the starting line up.

  38. Creativity can come from any position on the pitch. Bellerin did reasonably well yesterday and we know that Kolasinac can give some creativity coming down the wing. However, we are not going to get much scoring from our midfield or defenders so we need our scoring to come from our forwards. We need to make sure we have enough scorers at those 3 positions. If we start Welbeck and Ozil the most we can hope for is 12-15 league goals from those wide forward positions and its going to be dicey to compete for 4th without more firepower.

  39. Against Bournemouth Ramsey and Kolasinac were our creators in chief. Yesterday Ramsey created the best scoring opportunity of the game by himself. I know Ramsey divides opinion but he offers more a lot more upside then any of our midfielders

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