Chelsea Review: Discipline Gives Us A Well-Deserved Point

Chelsea 0 – 0 Arsenal

It’s a sign of how well we played yesterday that there’s a tinge of disappointment hanging in the air from a very good point at Stamford Bridge yesterday. There is no perspective from which you can view the game and not reach the conclusion that Arsenal came away with the minimum their performance deserved.

And in the big games, away from the Emirates, that has been a long time coming.

When Aaron Ramsey’s stumbling weave through the Chelsea penalty area ended with a toe-poke rebounded against the post, presenting Alexandre Lacazette with the chance he will score 9 times out of 10. This was the one and the ball ballooned over the bar. The gods loved us but not that much.

Given the poverty of our performance at Anfield, this is a massive step up. Organised; disciplined; consistent throughout the team. Everything we needed, the performance delivered, leaving only the frustrating question of why it took so long to come.

But it did arrive, which is much appreciated. Particularly the disciplined performance from the midfield, after a nervy opening fifteen minutes. Welbeck and Iwobi provided the necessary support to Xhaka and Ramsey in the centre and once everyone settled, went toe-to-toe with Chelsea, their supposed superiors.

While Arsène gets the brickbats, he deserves the plaudits for the performance. He’s set the bar for these fixtures in future which makes uncomfortable reading for Anfield and Stoke.

The watershed moment, in terms of belief, came when Bellerin delivered an inviting cross into the centre. Alas for Welbeck, the header drifted wide and high. It jolted Chelsea and their left side became vulnerable to the Spaniard’s pace, imbuing a sense of belief in the Arsenal attack.

They Shall Not Pass

While Laurent Koscielny is garnering most praise, Shkodran Mustafi’s turned in the more eye-catching performance and not just for the (correctly) disallowed goal. I’d go so far as to say that it was kind of performance for which he was signed. Committed, aggressive and most importantly, studied.

With Monreal and Koscielny, the German kept the home side’s attack at bay for as much as we could hope for. Cech pulled off a good block when Pedro baffled the defence but overall, a lot of hard work kept the former Chelsea custodian’s contribution to routine saves. Or at least, saves he made look routine.

Post-match, Arsène pointed to the cup final as the warning that this performance was coming,

“People forget that two months ago we beat Chelsea in the cup final and they don’t give you the cup, you know, so overall I believe we have shown [battling qualities] many times.”

Not this season, I’d add. Maybe that’s changing but it’s going to be more than one match to bring people onside for the rest of the season.

“It was a question today what will happen, at least with the attitude, the response, the determination. It was vital for us even above the result to come out with a solid performance on that front.”

The point gives a hint that we could challenge for the top four. However, there’s a big ‘if’ in the that sentence. Consistency is the key to moving on from a rough start to the season. We’ve struggled on that front already. Half a performance against Köln and yesterday is a start with Doncaster and West Brom the chance to build.

The latter game is the trickier of the two; it’s the sort of fixture we slip up in. Fortunately, we’re more accomplished at playing online pokies NZ.

Solid As A Rock

The denouement saw another Chelsea player sent off. If there was inevitability about Elneny’s booking for an inocuous challenge on Hazard, Luiz’s red card was to be expected. We met fire with fire and Chelsea were frustrated.

Luiz lost control of the ball, and went over the top in trying to win it back. Quite what Antonio Conte needed explaining is beyond me as is the pained look on Alvaro Morata’s face when he was pulled up for not realising shoulder charges were outlawed a long time ago. English football’s reputation for physicality is lost in translation.

Post-match, Aaron Ramsey spoke of “solidarity” in the performance but the best outcome is the belief the XI must take from winning without Özil and Sanchez. OK, the latter made a cameo appearance but the groundwork was already laid.

The reality is that they no longer need to rely on the pair. It gives a sense of greater responsibility on the field where instead of looking to others bail them out when times require, they take on the job themselves. It’s an important step in the team’s growth; whether they take that step is another matter.

For the moment, I’m going to continue to enjoy the performance and more like this is the only request. It’s not asking too much, is it?

’til Tomorrow.

33 thoughts on “Chelsea Review: Discipline Gives Us A Well-Deserved Point

  1. What’s really frustrating is that this kind of performance should be routine in big games, but i fear it’s likely a one-off, based on the need to get fans and pundits off their back. Arsene and his players, judging by precedents this last half decade, might likely get too comfortable again and offer the kind of gutless performance we now associate them with.
    Kudos to them on the draw, really hope they maintain that level of desire all season long.

  2. I have to agree rahl. Seem to remember a similar performance against city a couple of seasons ago which gave everyone hope that we could play this way against the top teams but we slumped back into type shortly after.

  3. Agree with Mark & Rahl. We need to make this performance the template for away performances , particularly against the top sides …but we`ve seen these occasional peaks before & I fear we`ll slip back to our old ways when the heat is off.

    Having said all that it was MUCH improved. Excellent commitment , organisation , effort & desire. All without Ozil (& Sanchex) I might add.

  4. A good performance from the team – defying all the predictions of doom and gloom. I imagine people saying it’s an expected performance from Arsenal, then go showing surprise about how the guys really turned up. I’ll enjoy it and look forward to the season with continuous belief.

    The dynamics of a players mind can be quite difficult to judge – there might be very bad days but this was a good one.

    I don’t think Arsenal the only big team that suffers in big games – we’ve lost a lot but we’ve also managed some success despite the challenge. Lost at Stoke (a refereeing nightmare) and Liverpool (a classic bad day), the media went all crazy – I hope they have some explanation for the struggles of Spurs & Pool.

    The issue about Ozil & Alexis is being taken too far – the team performed before they came and will still perform when they’re gone (yesterday, though one match was a testament to that).
    When you have 2 guys like that, you definitely expect them to do something extra (that’s why they’re the best players – and take up 2 spots in the team) – Henry was a saviour in the invicibles – they looked up to him for some magic. However every member of the team needs to put in the best shift so as to effectively complement their talent.

  5. I completely agree with you about the Ozil and Sanchez thing being taken way to far. Was the performance yesterday really really good, absolutely but lets not forget that there is a reason they are quality players because they can create that bit of magic that others not named Lacazette can’t create.

    If we are able to get that same workrate from the team and still have Ozil and Sanchez to create their magic we would be such a better team. I thought the biggest thing was, as Yogi pointed out, Mustafi looked like the player he did last season prior to his injury. Bellerin looked like the Bellerin that had fans gushing and Barca chasing. Sead didn’t bomb forward but defensively he was solid and the look on his face when Luiz took him out, looked like he was going to get up and destroy Luiz. Xhaka I thought put in a good performance just staying solid and keeping things in front of him without needing to press higher.

    Ramsey put in a good performance too, yea there were times that he went gung-ho but he was putting in his usual shift; if he could ever figure out how to just get the ball out of his feet quicker and have some end product he could get back to some better form. Nacho and Kos both looked like the good defenders they are. Iwobi for me put in a strange performance, he worked hard in closing down space but wasn’t that effective attacking.

  6. Mustafi gave away the magnificent goal scoring opportunity to Pedro by playing him onside despite the efforts of Kos and Nacho. How does that fit with the MOTM plaudits?

  7. You do have to feel for Welbeck though, just when he was finding form and scoring goals, he gets injured with a groin problem.

  8. Afternoon,

    Really pleased that everyone put in a shift and that we were able to go toe to toe with Chelsea. A point at Stamford Bridge is no mean feat given our recent history there. News from the club after the game was that the team had trained hard in preparation, which begs the question “why don’t we usually appear to work that hard prior to games?”
    This should be the blueprint for our game plan going forward but, as has been mentioned, we have seen this kind of false dawn in the past. The team pow wow prior to the City games was meant to signal the players getting their views across on how things should change, but we reverted to type not long afterwards. Hopefully we can maintain this disciplined approach, because he didn’t mean the football was boring to watch. In fact, many commentators flagged how enjoyable it was considering it was also a 0-0.

  9. Yogi ,’the reality is they no longer rely on the two’; DAT exactly is d message d rest of d team is passing to d duo of Ozil and Alexis,and of course @AW himself. Other members of d squad are tired of d controversy dotting the tracks of d duo,dey have finally made clear DAT dey can perform as expected without d duo.Food for thought for Wenger and his over pampered world class pplayers.Ramsey used d word – solidarity, I guess it was well chosen ,as we could see d effect throughout 90+4 minutes; exactly wat has bin lacking in d team.Imagine Alexis laughing DAT Lacasette missised a chance as captured by d cameras whilst Ospina was visibly distraught ,the import of Alexis attitude is condemnable,if I were Wenger I will bench him for a long tym to come.Am beginning to CE Alexis as a canterkerous xter in d team nd it calls for urgent action by AW.Bravo Gunners more solidarity please.

  10. Was Alexis laughing? I thought his reaction (including him slapping Ospina on the shoulder) was more one of someone signalling how close a chance it was. The second slap was almost a “fuck that should have been in”. Too much is read into players’ reactions on the bench and no one knows what is being said between players at any given moment which could cause a reaction easily taken out of context. We want to see Alexis do his talking on the pitch and then we will know if there’s a problem or not.

  11. Wavey,

    Yeah, who knows what Sanchez was amused by but Austin may have a point about the squad being separate from Ozil & Alexis in some ways.
    Maybe wages , egos or just the determination to prove they can do it without them

  12. Austinpaul Ojeaga ksp,

    Austinpaul, I recall the moment you referred to but am not sure I agree with your interpretation of it. First, the passage of play brought almost everybody on the bench,the extra passive Wenger inclusive, to their feet. The expression at not scoring is first dismay as Alexis hit Ospinas shoulder. That spirit, the one that bring everyone to their feet at the efforts of the team, that is what I understand by solidarity.
    Also in all the event of the transfer window I cannot fault Alexis personally. Who among us would not want the best deals possible in his situation? And which player having played in the debacle at Anfield ought not have covered his face in shame like Alexis did.
    My simple conclusion – when at his best, the Arsenal team is a much potent force with Alexis Sanchez, and he is not yet past his best.

  13. That picture is from Deliverance I believe. One of the more genuinely scary, uncomfortably realistic
    and very good film I´ve seen. Needles to say I´m not gonna see it again.

  14. A very encouraging performance yesterday. The team can defend when it is needed. Surely a blueprint for the away games against the top sides?

    The back 3 played deeper than usual, and Monreal stepped out when needed to cover the defensive midfield area. The full backs chose their moments to attack, and Xhaka didn’t go walkabout. Iwobi and Welback main roles were to dent space.

    Was Ozil dropped? Who knows, but in these type of games he is a luxury we can’t afford.

  15. The only reason we came away with a point is because Ozil didn’t play. We have a dismal record against big teams because it is easy to dispossess Ozil and catch Arsenal on the counter. Ozil doesn’t have the physical attributes to play in premier league which effectively makes Arsenal a 10 man team whenever they play big teams and against physically strong teams ie, stoke, westbrom ,chelsea ….

  16. A really good, concise and accurate Post today, YW, and although I did not see the game ‘live’ you have summed up my own views.

    One little observation I might make, is that the part about Morato pulling a pained face because he did not realise the shoulder charge was outlawed years ago, was perhaps not altogether correct.
    Shoulder charges are permitted, under Law 12, when properly performed, which is to say that they must be fairly applied shoulder to shoulder – and not against any other part of the body, or with a jutting elbow.

    On the other hand, it is almost impossible to fairly ‘shoulder charge’ a goal-keeper, as referees will not permit it, so if that was what you were referring to, then you were correct. So all is well! 😀

    I noted that someone reaped your wrath for being a smart ass, yesterday, but I blame C for everything, so direct any retaliatory strikes, for daring to mention the above, against him, please, as, in any case, he will not notice! 😀

  17. Jack,

    You may, or may not, be correct in blaming Özil for being dispossessed to easily, and leaving us open to counter attack by the opposition.

    However, I would posit that the greater danger is posed by Sanchez going off on an unstructured mazy run that inevitably leads to him spraying the ball to anyone other than a team-mate at the end of it.

    He is far too ‘important’ for any of the Arsenal coaches to have the nerve to point this out to him, but they should ban him from running in any direction except towards the opposition goal, where he can cause confusion and panic to their defence rather than to ours.

    Just a thought. 😀

  18. HenryB,

    I agree completely. When Ozil and Sanchez are playing the whole team is unbalanced which creates the impression that Arsenal is a weak team and it leads to catastrophies like Liverpool4-0. But I feel bad for Sanchez as he loves the high press he learned at Barcelona but Arsenal plays a different style so he goes and does what he thinks is right rather than what is right for the team. Another sad aspect is the fact that even if he wins the ball back and make a run to the byline the forward who he expects to be in the box will be huffing and puffing to reach any where near the penalty box( Giroud) . As you rightly pointed out Arsene is not a hard task master so the so called superstars are calling the shots which leads to us getting mauled by big teams. I would take the discipline displayed last week than flair of the superstars week in week out

  19. Great team effort. I was in favor of selling ALL of Chambo, Ozil and Sanchez if they hadn’t re-committed to the team by July. Football is a tam sport and 11 committed guys working as a team can beat a talented uncommitted collection of higher skilled players. I really think not selling the other 2 will have a long-term negative impact.

  20. Somewhat disturbing to read the burgeoning view that the team plays better with Sanchez and Ozil absent.
    The latter plays so well with his national side and one wonders whether we yet have the players to feed off his vision.
    Sanchez is clearly more of an individual rather than a team player, although his enthusiasm is a plus for those around him. 😉

  21. Jack,

    The problem with what your saying is that with Germany and Madrid before that he played and plays a high tempo high pressing. Would the German FA vote him player of the year if he wasn’t producing. How about Low handing him the keys to attack? How about If Ozil is the reason why teams counter so sell against us, then why have they been doing it since the move to the Emirates pre-Ozil? Also with the counter if its Ozil’s fault then do we absolve the midfielders and defenders who the opposition has to go through to score a goal? So if Ozil is the reason wd lost can we then say he is yhe reason why we won 3 FA Cups sknve his arrival and nothing in the 9-10 years before that? By your logic Ozil has had more of an impact that Cesc and RvP.

  22. Wavey,

    I read it completely differently and saw the longer clip originally broadcast on our feed here in Canada. I immediately texted to gooner friends who had been discussing the issue of Alexis that it looked to me very much like he was interested in the chance, was hoping it went it and reacted like we often do about close misses. It certainly did not look at all like he was taking joy from an Arsenal miss, which is about as perverse a reading as possible. But that’s the media environment, I suppose. I think the simple (and boring) truth is probably that although he wanted to leave, he is a football player who wants to play and wants his team to win if he’s in it. He’s very demonstrative because that’s his personality. People will be analyzing his expressions but mostly be creating more than is there, I think.

  23. I noted yesterday that the team played better in the first half with neither of these two. I for one was not noting this to draw some general conclusion about the team being better without them. That would be pretty absurd. But each game is different and even great players aren’t as good at certain things. Ozil is not a great or energetic defender and dealing with better defenders pressuring him and his teammates reduces his attacking effectiveness in big games, especially away. That’s not a terrible slight against him. He carves up other teams and is super effective when his defensive limitations aren’t so significant. DW and Iwobi aren’t as good at many parts of attacking play as a super skilled guy like Ozil, but for certain games, their defensive abilities and workrate help the team get results, so a tactically astute and flexible manager with a strength and authority should be able to pick the players needed according to the match without making the player feel it is somehow disrespectful of their qualities.

    I see this as a false debate. We need Alexis and Ozil to play well this season. Part of getting the best out of them is knowing when they are most effective and when the team needs a different approach.

  24. bt8,

    You can’t nominate three, you need to pick one and give your reasons.

    For me the MotM was Mustafi, he nullified the threat posed by Morata and gave him a proper welcome to Premiership football. His distribution was good and he almost got into the perfect position to take an excellent pass and put the ball in the net.

  25. Paul:
    Orson Kaert,

    Kolasinac then.He changed the tenor of the game as compared to previous matches between these teams.

    I did like the way Bellerin’s crosses set Chelsea back on their heels though, and he made no defensive errors either that I can recall. It seemed like those crosses basically ended Chelsea’s period of ascendancy in the first half.

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