Chelsea Review: Enjoyable Game Leaves Emery With More Questions Than Answers

Arsenal 1 – 1 Chelsea (Arsenal win 6 – 5 on penalties)

The old and the new collided in Dublin but it was reassuring to find we’re not the only club whose first team will wear a crap kit. That said, I’m not sure the observation carries that much weight.

“Defending at the corner for their goal was rubbish.”
“Yeah, but the state of their kit…”

Chelsea’s goal came from poor marking at a corner. Smith-Rowe made the mistake of letting Rudiger go free but even with Ramsey there instead, the German is still scoring. The design for marking at corners is questionable. Rudiger is several inches taller than ESR so why that marking pattern? We invited trouble and went a goal down.

It should have been a lot worse. Cech couldn’t save a penalty to save his life until he shrivelled Troy Deeney’s cojones. Now, it’s par for the course with the ever-abject Alvaro Morata becoming his latest victim. The spot-kick came about courtesy of Bellerin’s foul on Hudson-Odoi.

From the first minute, the youngster’s searing pace exposed Bellerin. Whether the Spaniard is carrying a knock or is in bad shape is unclear but something is clearly not right with him. Maybe the three matches in a week at this stage of the summer is too much for him?

Given the care with which we’re treating other players, it would be a surprise if he played with an injury. Ramsey missed out with calf-knack while Kolasinac came off after turning his knee. No chances taken with either so why would Bellerin be treated differently? He wouldn’t is the answer.

The back four raises concerns given the pace of Manchester City’s attack. A high defensive line left us exposed and Chelsea exploited the space. Sokratis isn’t quick enough to play that tactic and Mustafi isn’t consistent enough.

One Remaining Transfer

Looking at the central defenders, that may be the only position we must seriously consider signing one more player. There is a dearth of talent on the market though. Yerry Mina’s eye-catching goals can’t disguise the fact he’s being let go by Barcelona six months after joining. His positioning at set-pieces is good but he was susceptible to pace in attack. There’s a flaw there – which we saw glimpses of at the World Cup – but is that down to the club/country style of play?

It’s a tricky decision for the management team to make. Emery & Co are working on the overall picture but they won’t have failed to notice problems most laymen saw. Their job is finding the solution.

Cech performed the role of sweeper keeper reasonably well, given his distribution remains an ongoing concern. Leno on the basis of that tactic seems a better choice as the first-choice goalkeeper. However, it is a pleasant change to have two goalkeepers who seem on the ball.

I’m not naive enough to think Cech’s weaknesses are miraculously solved; far from it. The arrival of Leno is beneficial in that sense though. Cech is determined to fight for his place in the last year of his contract and that will keep the German on his toes as well.

In midfield, Guendouzi looked good again. Lost the ball on several occasions through youth’s impetuosity and was caught out of position as well. Despite that, his promise is evident and it will be interesting to see how he fares in a competitive match. Friendlies are good for bedding into the squad, but the pace of English football is very much faster than anything he’s been involved in thus far.

Questions and Answers

Up front, the decision over Lacazette, Aubameyang and everything else seems up in the air. We looked better in the second half but was that an overall improvement or the change in personnel? Based on the pre-season so far, my preference is both to start and that may become easier to resolve if Emery looks at last night and thinks we have to play with a back five to cover the deficiencies.

Mkhitaryan’s sluggish pre-season continues. The pressing game ought to be second nature to him but dazed and confused is a better description. It is as if he is bewildered by the change in tactics. We’ll see if that improves at the weekend or against Manchester City.

Ultimately, Emery will learn more from that fixture than from gubbing PSG 5 – 1. We ‘enjoyed’ the majority of the possession but were chasing our tails for most of the game. It’s the old way in a new outlook which must be addressed quickly.

With ten days to go, there is a lot of work to be done. New thinking after years of knowing exactly what the manager wants is tough to adapt to. Some of the squad have more work to do in that respect than others.

’til Tomorrow.

43 thoughts on “Chelsea Review: Enjoyable Game Leaves Emery With More Questions Than Answers

  1. I’m a fan of defenders on both of the posts at corners. Wenger did it for the first half of his reign then dropped to one. Would that have kept out the header yesterday…probably?

    Hudson-Odoi made Bellerin look unfit. I hope that is all it is. Btw Hudson-Odoi’s looks a little faster than his distant relative Alan Hudson.

  2. No mention of Mesut’s reverse pass Yogi!?

    Couldn’t agree more, we need a Sol/Toure/1st season Gallas defender for the start of this campaign. But I don’t think Yerry Mina is the answer. Nor do I think we are in the market for anyone. I personally would have taken a punt on Lascelles at Newcastle.

  3. Good afternoon All. Temperature is 36 degrees dans rising here in the Sud.

    I agree YW defence is a serious concern.None of the current Players in that Position fill me with any confidence. Defence and Midfield are going to be areas of concern.

  4. Regardless of manager, formations, or any other factor I really don’t like zonal marking. Is it simply that today’s CD’s aren’t taught to go man to man or that it’s just out of favour with coaches in general? Certainly there is far less emphasis on defending across the game. Perhaps it’s a consequence of the game heading the same way as cricket with the focus on ‘entertainment’ (the big hitting short form game in cricket) rather than on all the skills required across the sport however unglamorous some of them may be.

  5. Hudson-Odoi is a lot better than Hudson Hawk!

    Bet he still won’t make it in Chelsea’s first team.

    Not sure why anyone is surprised that he did Bellerin for pace. Bellerin has been struggling for pace for sometime now!

  6. I was at the game last night – near Bellerins side in the first half and here’s my scouting report for what it’s worth:
    1. Hudson Odoi was roasting Bellerin but I felt sorry for him as Ozil, playing on the right and then Mikytarian when he switched wings, gave him no cover at all. They just drifted inside into E Smith Rowes territory. Also, Bellerin was also expected to provide the width so fitness wise he was struggling with both doing that and containing Odoi
    2. Chelseas pressing game was more orchestrated and efficient at Arsenals – though Arsenal pressed up noticeably more in the second half. I agree with YW that Arsenals defence looks lacking in height and pace. Sokratis looks a bit like Mudtafi – not exceptionally tall for a CB or that quick. He does look like a rugged competitor though and I still savy – he reads things well to compensate and has good timing. Still, if I’m Emery I’d like a CB with burning pace. I’d like to have seen Mavropanos for a period of the game – to see him up close as he looks to have that presence in terms of height and can cover the ground.
    3. Kolasinac looked cumbersome and slow so that doesn’t help when playing a high line. He hasn’t looked that sharp in pre- season and doesn’t look like he is going to reverse his poor form and grab a place on the new regime
    4. Guendouzi looks like he can contribute this season – he’s got presence, physicality, confidence and an air about him. He was the one playing some sweeping passes through the lines while Elneny was his usual industrious self but going sideways / backwards. He lost the ball a few times but sometimes that comes with taking risks
    5. Arsenal need a winger with pace on the flanks – Ozil was on the right and Mikytarian on the left, starting but both drift and if I was Bellerin, I’d not relish Ozil in front of me for the season.
    6. Aubamayang was a bit quiet – he played centrally on the shoulder good bit in the first half but Arsenal players weren’t tuned to mixing it up and playing some dinks over the top – still some Wenger habits to get over. Lacazette looked very sharp when he came on and looks hungry to have a good season
    7. Ozil was really only effective when he came more centrally in the second half – playing him on the flanks doesn’t look like it will work.

    In summary, a mixed bag, as YW states – but still 10 days work to go and Torreira, Ramsey, Xhaka to come back into midfield. I would agree that in terms of transfers, they could do with re shaping their CB options – selling 1 and bringing in 1 + bringing in some more pace on the flanks but lots of positives and under Emery, this guy will have them competitive at the very least, in the big games this season – there’s now a proper football club again.

  7. Reiss Nelson did ok when he came on so perhaps he can be that wing option late in games. He doesn’t seem to have kicked on and looks a bit lightweight up close. Hopefully he might get a chance as he was the next great thing being spoken off, a year ago

  8. Great post Yogi

    In the end we got the win and Cech saved 2 penalties and won the game for us. I thought our penalty takers did a really good job during the shootout.

    The game does raise some concerns. How can the fastest player on our team get burned for pace? We constantly look to make excuses for him but lets be honest for a second and admit that Hector has struggled for more then 2 years now on both ends of the pitch. Even if Emery could somehow magically fix all of his defensive problems, he can’t teach end product and decision making on the attacking end. If we really had a chance to sell Hector for a big transfer fee then we made a big mistake because his value will be heading downward very quickly as time goes on. Hopefully Nacho will come back to the team soon and shore up the left fullback position. Hopefully Emery will no go all Arsene and he will abandon the high defensive line if that is going to be a problem. On the attacking end, I am not sure we can afford to play Ozil in central midfield against good teams so he needs to start as one of the forwards. Unfortunately that leaves us really shot of firepower, pace and width upfront if we start Mkhitaryan and Ozil as 2/3 of our forwards. I think we need to drop either Ozil or Mkhitaryan in order to get both Lacazette and PEA in the starting line up.

  9. Thanks for the post YW; and thanks AlanG for the pitch-side scouting report. I think like YW, I would only be secure in my mind, playing a back 3 of Sok/Mus,Holding or Mav/Chambers. 3 at the back and 2 strikers up top.

  10. That reverse pass by Ozil and the finish by Lacazette is what we need more of this season and I imagine we will get.

  11. Welbeck is a winger and not a CF. If he is not sold, Emery ‘s training will help him and the team. Auba and Lacazette should be the strikers working in tandem. From what I saw, the team had Wenger’s era hangover!

  12. AlanG,

    I agree with all of that. Ozil should be played centrally, behind Auba imo. He looked so comfortable there and his trickery bought us space out wide which, as mentioned should have been occupied by a pacey winger.

    Imo, we’re not going to sign another CB. I do think Mavrapanos should be given a shot as he’s got the height, pace and strength (bosses lukaku vs man u) perhaps he and Sokritis would be OK. Might be more comfortable next to a fellow Greek.

    Bellerin has played 90 mins In almost all matches in conjunction with emrys new training sessions.

    Personally, I think we’re unlikely to see a MASSIVE improvement straight away. Emry has had what, 15 training sessions in total with maybe half the squad? I think it’ll be December til we see our style emerge properly.

    BUT… Elneny for me doesn’t look the grade we need. Outplayed by a 19 year old. But for rotation purposes I imagine he’ll be of use in Europa against lesser teams. I would like to see Torriera, guendouzi and AMN together purely for the energy they’d all bring to the pressing game.

    No shocker Ramsey is injured. Soon as he’s fit and looking sharp it’s the same story

  13. skywalker,

    Coupled with the fact that Chelsea had players playing the same system they’re used too. I saw no change to their game from last season. Emry is still trying to implement new pressing system which will take time. Sarri has walked into a club with an extremely stable spine as well as solid defence of cahill, Luiz, cesar and alonso all of whom have played together got 3 plus seasons. They’re midfield is what I imagine they’ll use this coming season minus Kante.

    I don’t get all these reports saying arsenal were lucky could have been 4 down in 30mins…gk job to save things isn’t it? What pays his wages. And it was a preseason game which we still won…..

    As I said previously, I say Dec until we see what Emrys system will look like

  14. Personally, we played a strong Chelsea side and won. Chelsea still have Hazard and Kante to come back, but their issue will be goals this season. We’re lucky to have Auba and Laca imo. Ozil looked sharp and spring in his step, guendouzi looks good. Defensively we’ve not had a lot of sessions yet, it’ll come.

    What I will say is they all look like their having fun and we’ve lost that head drop mentality so far. I don’t expect much vs City in opening a draw will be amazing. City have a settled squad, but they didn’t win ought in their first season with pep either.

  15. C:
    That reverse pass by Ozil and the finish by Lacazette is what we need more of this season and I imagine we will get.

    C

    Do you really think Arsene was the one stopping that from happening for the last 2 1/2 seasons?

  16. Bill,

    Didn’t for Germany. He was central for Germany and mostly for Real too. Difference was they have actual wingers who stayed out wide which we don’t. Wenger was a fan of let players express themselves which unfortunately made our good players look rubbish at times as they were out of position to get ball during extremely slow build ups.

    If we had wingers out on the right and left he’d be more effective. I personally think Auba, lacs and iwobi with auba and iwobi switching wings would be better for ozil than HM out on right, not quick enough or an outright winger so doesn’t create the space Auba needs To exploit teams imo.

  17. Thanks AlanG for the pitch-side report.

    I wonder if Chambers is the answer at centre back? He has a turn of pace, but he’s no Koscielny. Mustafi & Sokratis look cut from the same cloth, too slow for a high line.

  18. Bill,

    By that logic ozil didn’t want to score or assist then? By that logic I’m sure he was aggrieved to have scored at all if his objective was to not find passes. Players implement the tactics they are trained to use. Ours were slow build up with horrendous defending. Doesn’t matter how good a passer you are if you’ve got 11 players in front of you with no space to pass into.

  19. Howdy all. Agree that i think we have a better shot to score with PEA and Laca out together. This is not the paciest attack but how about Ozil / Mhiki doing the ballet at CAM/left wing. then Laca and Auba play striker/ right wing. Hopefully we are good enough to rotate our strikers for the ‘smaller’ league games. Then when we need to set up shop for 30 minutes against Man City, we can have a settled defense but throw both Laca and Auba out and see what damage they can do together.

    Then again i know nothing haha. Thanks for the discussion all have a swell day

  20. I’m not expecting much from our first two fixtures. I suspect we’ll lose to Man C and get a draw out of Chelsea. Which is about where we should be. I think if we start with Must and Sokr in a high press we’ll be quickly found out. I’d also like to see an energetic midfield of Torriera, Guendouzi and AMN. Not sold on Xhaka, but I guess Unai will play him ahead of Guendouzi and AMN. I personally wouldn’t. Ozil is most effective centrally, you won’t hear any arguments from me on that point. It’s a waste of time HM and Ozil being on the wings. Would rather see PEA and Welbz on the wing’s. Laca through the middle and Ozil as the CAM. Failing that getting Bailey from Leverkusen wouldn’t be a bad idea.

  21. Sadly, Bel had no help and believe he had a back problem. Was roasted all day. But, when asked to cover the chavs winger Guendouzi put that guy down with a hard tackle to let him know he was there. Next game, go with Chambers or AMN at right back, they both can play more physically and AMN has pace to spare to try and hang with Sane. Monreal can do just fine on the left. No Miki up front for me, would rather have Laca and Aubu stretch $h*ty; but the question is who at center backs and who in front of them? If experience, then Mustafi and Sokratis, or go with height and Mavro in place of one of them-not likely to happen. The French youngster has to be in front of them as no Torrierra or Xhaka.
    Will be enjoyable to see, and hopefully the Arsenal can hold them to only 1 goal.

  22. HenryNorrisDialSquare,

    Since we sold Sanchez, Ox and Walcott we’ve had no wingers with pace. Something that’s really hurt us and slowed down our attacks even more. Welbeck is quick so I’d agree he on left with Auba and Laca mixing between central and left could be good but I feel Emry likes Iwobi on left

    Personally, I thought a midfield with AMN and Guendouzi was what wore down Psg when they chased down everything and hassled non stop. Whatever selection, we need high energy players behind ozil for pressing system to work and Xhaka isn’t high energy he’s very cumbersome. But suppose we’ll see Torriera and he on Saturday vs Lazio

  23. Bellerin looks heavier than in his first season (not just the hair) and has done for some time now. That would hamper his speed to some degree. Wasn’t he said to be the fastest in the league back then? Faster than Walcott, it was said. Also, he was subbing for DeBuchy when he broke in and looking to establish himself. He’s been the de facto RB since then. So, perhaps a little less drive? Add to that all the minutes he’s played and is playing. All supposition but he isn’t the player we first saw.

  24. I think we all want to see the new Arsenal hit the ground running and to some degree they have done but things don’t miraculously change overnight. If they did, everyone would do it.
    Logically, the end of the season is when we can fully judge things – if we can wait that long.

  25. Blue Yonder,

    He’s still quickest in club, faster than Auba so can’t have gained fat if that’s the implication. He was 18 when he debuted so he’s older now and he’s definitely more muscular so I assume that would make him look bigger. Bellerins problem is he’s always exposed on right and he’s had the pace coached out of him going forward. Too often he gets ball and instead of bolting into box he stops and passes it sideways or backwards. Lichtsteiner being there will hopefully improve the defensive side of his game.

  26. Blue Yonder,

    Totally agree.

    Way I see it. That was a strong cheslea team, Cahill, Rudiger, Alonso and Luiz in defense. Cesc and Jorhinho two experienced midfielders vs Guendouzi, ESR…. And we didn’t embarrass ourselves. We still don’t know our starting back 4, they do, they’ve had same back 4 for more or less 3 seasons so pretty settled. We can stress over defense but in reality Cech did his job and stopped goals going in and despite still having welbeck, Nacho, Xhaka and Ramsey not playing still won it. Not to mention no Torriera yet or lichtsteiner

  27. I heard from a friend in Milan that they got Gazidis-that is only a rumour! If that turns out to be true, may be time for Kroenke Jr to become the CEO and leave the football matters for the other two. Hope they will not go for Wenger!!

  28. I would rather have PEA centrally, Lacazette on the right and Welbeck on the left. A combination of AMN and Torreira as pivots and then I would breathe easy. Lacazette does not need pace, he just needs to get close to the box to score and he caused some real problems yesterday and so he should be behind PEA, so if PEA fluffs his lines he can score or if he can lay the final pass, PEA can score.

    As for the defense yesterday, it was a case of forgetfulness. It shows it will take some time for Emery’s new philosophy to stick.

    Anyone who’s interested to see some in depth analysis can read the tactics column by Lewis Ambrose on arseblog. He has done some pretty good characterization based on Emery’s views in interviews.

    Attachment

  29. theskywalker

    Gazidis will most likely have a six-month notice period to work out. Could turn nasty if he doesn’t obey it.

  30. I’m on some sort of run.

    This is the third movie shot I recognize. (Terence Hill and Bud Spencer in the Trinity movies – I think this one was Trinity is still my name?).

    YW, have you been doing seances contacting my parents or something?

    All seriousness aside though, I agree that we are going to have to be patient in terms of old habits dying a slow death.

    An earlier poster (apologies for my laziness on not checking who it was to give credit where due), mentioned that they only expected to see improvement around December at best, which I have to agree with.

    This is not a case of an easy change IMO, this culture has become deeply embedded after so many years (I recall several years ago mentioning that the longevity was toxic and created more damage to the club with every passing day), so it’s going on take some time to wash and rinse out.

    Personally I’m ok with us just treading water for this season to stabilize the club and embed the new culture.

    In yerms of formations I’d like to see:

    ———–Czech/other dude———-

    Ballerina—–Mustafi——-Mavropanos——–Monreal

    —————–Torreirra————Gouendouzi——–

    —————————–Ozil—————————

    Mikitaryn————-PEA———————-Lacazette

  31. YW:
    theskywalker

    Gazidis will most likely have a six-month notice period to work out. Could turn nasty if he doesn’t obey it.

    In those sort of circumstances the club is surely more likely to put him on “gardening leave” to keep him away from the business.

  32. YW,

    I think that once a relationship at executive level is broken, there’s not much point in prolonging the pain and turning it into acrimony, unless it was to go to a rival club in the same league.

    As much as we, as football fans, are not particularly interested in “the suits” and what they do, leadership at that level is important, and can have significant impact on the direction of the club.

    Is he indispensable?

    No, not at all, no one is, but the club will need to be careful about how they proceed, firstly in selecting the next CEO, and secondly n how they behave if and when he does depart. It’s also not a good idea to become known as a poorly behaved employer either.

    I’ve seen some concern raised about firstly Wenger, and secondly, Syrup Jnr, taking up the position should this all actually turn out to be true.

    In terms of Wenger, I doubt that at this stage, having been given some distance to reflect and given some of his comments regarding that, he would want to be involved at the club to watch someone else do the job that consumed him so completely.

    In terms of Junior, I doubt he wants to get involved in the day to day administration, he’s involved in their other “franchises” too, so whilst he might feel he wants some “hands on” experience, I just somehow doubt it.

    Who knows, maybe it’s just a bit of Wenger-like posturing to improve his pay packet and he isn’t actually planning on going anywhere?

  33. MikeSA,

    To be honest I wouldn’t object to him getting a pay rise or bonus for his part in chiseling off the old barnacle, probably his greatest achievement at the club to date.

  34. Incidentally, how did Max Meyer end up at Palace? Was touted as a potential signing for us but obviously not so highly rated as may have been suggested.

  35. YW,

    How much is Ramsey on?

    I expect that Palace will recoup a fair amount by selling Zaha. Speaking of which we seem to have cured our difficulties in recruitment but selling (for even reasonable return) still seems to be a problem. When Liverpool can sell a novice keeper for £12m but we can’t give away Ospina it shows once again how damaging our wage structure was under the previous incumbent.

  36. MesutsLeftFoot:
    HenryNorrisDialSquare,

    Since we sold Sanchez, Ox and Walcott we’ve had no wingers with pace. Something that’s really hurt us and slowed down our attacks even more. Welbeck is quick so I’d agree he on left with Auba and Laca mixing between central and left could be good but I feel Emry likes Iwobi on left

    Personally, I thought a midfield with AMN and Guendouzi was what wore down Psg when they chased down everything and hassled non stop. Whatever selection, we need high energy players behind ozil for pressing system to work and Xhaka isn’t high energy he’s very cumbersome. But suppose we’ll see Torriera and he on Saturday vs Lazio

    I agree on the winger situation, so shouldn’t we be looking at Zaha and Bailey as options? I know convincing them to come and being affordable makes this pure fantasy. Not sold on Iwobi on the wing as he likes to cut in too much and doesn’t cover in the full back in the Ozil vein. I would rather re-integrate Campbell back into the team. Remember that game where he was our best player on the pitch only to be substituted by AW! If we can re-invigorate this guy, there is a player in there waiting to come out. I’d utilise Welbz on the other wing.

Comments are closed.