Chelsea Review: Defensive Problems Need Quick Solution

Chelsea 3 – 2 Arsenal

It’s match we’ll look back as at least one point which got away. Having pegged Chelsea back to 2 – 2 at the interval, we lost the impetus which built in the second half of the opening 45 minutes. In the end, we got nothing from a game in which we were the architects of our own downfall.

The errors which led to all three Chelsea goals were basic. Irrespective of whether you are learning a new system or methods, on three occasions we switched off individually and collectively. The players are all experienced enough to know the cost of doing so.

Emery threw a massive curveball with Xhaka retaining his place in the side and Iwobi slotting in on the left. The first I knew the Nigerian was on the pitch came as Hoddle talked about ‘doubling up’ just a clearance struck Iwobi in the family jewels. Turns out Glenda was talking about defending, not taking two for the team.

The opening thirty minutes were just awful. Chelsea were better drilled than us. It was never more evident than on 15 minutes, Kepa received the ball. Four defenders dropped back, but only two Arsenal players pressed. When the situation occurred for Cech, Chelsea flooded the Arsenal defence stopping us from playing out at the back.

Our dismal defending didn’t improve as the match unfolded. The opening goal summed up our afternoon. A minute after Özil missed from a tight angle, Mkhitaryan left Alonso along. His cross found Pedro – unmarked – to slot home.

It was a catalogue of errors but at the heart is a high line which flounders with a central defensive pairing whose lack of pace and naivety leaves us exposed.  We can’t do anything about Sokratis’ lack of pace nor, it seems, can we raise Mustafi’s footballing intelligence.

The Calm Before The Storm

That became evident shortly after when Chelsea doubled their advantage. Aubameyang scooped a simple chance over the bar after great play from Bellerin. That we created so many similar chances in the 90 minutes underlines that the players grasp the attacking segment of Emery’s philosophy.

The miss proved costly as a punt downfield caught Sokratis on the hope and Mustafi out of his depth. We’re so poor that even Alvaro Morata scored against us. At this point, a drubbing was on the cards; it genuinely was but to the players credit, we fought back.

Mkhitaryan missed a chance as straightforward as Aubameyang’s before making amends as half-time approached. A sweet finish from the Armenian from the edge of the area gave us hope. That was almost extinguised soon after but this time Cech produced a great save from Morata.

Nacho Monreal’s pressing created the goal, robbing Willian and freeing Iwobi. Both flanks proved productive during the game in an attacking sense. We’ve just got to produce a better balance between that and the defensive side.

The equaliser came from the same type of move. This time Mkhitaryan turned provider, with Iwobi slamming home from the centre of the penalty area. By half-time, Aubameyang grazed the outside of the post from close range while Iwobi missed in a similar style to the two blazed over the bar before.

Arsenal were rampant to the point that Shkodran Mustafi performed a drag-back in injury time. Yes, that Shkodran Mustafi.

A sign of the new regime came with Granit Xhaka whose ineffectiveness saw him hooked for “tactical” reasons, as well as the yellow card he received for being Xhaka. Mesut Özil suffered the same fate in the second half after 60 ineffective minutes. There are no longer any untouchables at Arsenal.

The Wrong Time, Boyo

At the end of the match, Emery felt “we lost the positioning in the pitch and were too deep in some moments.” We certainly lost impetus and drive; I don’t think anyone would argue that half-time impacted us more deeply than Chelsea. Sarri certainly got a more positive response from his players.

Cech produced several great saves from Barkley and twice from Giroud. He couldn’t stop Alonso when another mistake cost us the game. Lacazette gave the ball away cheaply, Chelsea exploited space on the left and nobody tracked Alonso, who sealed our fate.

Despite the obvious failings, there were positives. Guendouzi’s performance improved on last week to the extent that I read somewhere his pass completion sat at 100% for the first half. It’s a promising start to his Arsenal career, leaving Torreira and Xhaka to fight for the other place alongside him. Or at least, I hope that’s how Emery is looking at it given the decisions made to hook Swiss and Özil.

The tough start to the season is over. Now, we face games we view as winnable and the complexion of the season will change with back-to-back wins before the first international break.

’til Tomorrow.


39 thoughts on “Chelsea Review: Defensive Problems Need Quick Solution

  1. Ras says:

    Morning YW yes the Team were ultimately the Architects of their own destruction. The defensive high line with Soki n Mustafi in tandem is suicidal.

    Mustafi we know about already and has to be moved on at the appropriate time. Sokratis is way to slow and is never going to be at the level we need. I’d take Johnny Evans over both and that’s saying something .

  2. Dalm says:

    TBH before the start of the season I wasn’t expecting anything from the first two matches…and if you’d offered me a 2-3 defeat before KO yesterday I would probably have taken it….then to see the naivety at the back and the lack of punch up front….Gah…

    but – but – surely we’ll bury those chances in future ? if so we’ll get a result.

    I did also wonder whether we’d play some cannon fodder in the first few matches – Cech and Mustafi for the expected thrashings -then once onto the easier matches bring in the newbies – so they don’t lose heart !

  3. Grandad says:

    Our main weaknesses are at centre back and until this area is sorted out we shall never challenge for a top four position.Socratic and Mustafi are simply not up to it and never will be.

  4. Wavey says:

    We need a runoff fixtures that will help the team settle in a competitive environment. West Ham, Cardiff City and Newcastle isn’t a bad sequence of games and Kenedy looks like a walking liability for Newcastle. Next week is an interesting one, as something has to crack with both teams having collected no points far.

  5. LSG says:

    I like that Emery will make a sub whenever and of whomever he decides for the sake of the team. However, I didn’t think the subs helped us. Was he playing for the draw or going for it? He probably should have taken off Aubameyang and kept Iwobi on—he was having a good game while Auba was off and cannot do much from the wing on the ball. Our best attacks were from wide play consistently.

  6. Bill says:

    A great Yogi, balance and accurate as always.

    Its been a tough run of fixtures to start the season and we are now 6 points behind the 2 teams that we all hoped might be the ones we could sneak past to finish 4th. I thought our defense looked worse then it did in City game and we played against a team with a lot less attacking firepower and they did not even start their best player. On the other hand we played really great for about 20 minutes on the attacking end of the pitch and scored 2 goals. I think it was very positive that Emery was willing to sub off both Xhaka and Ozil. After watching the last 2 years it should be no surprise that neither of them has been effective. I still think that Emery can build a team that is more then the sum or its parts but he was left with a disjointed and poorly balanced squad that lacks talent in a lot of places and its going to take a lot more then 1 transfer window for him to rebuild a squad that can play the way he wants and be legitimate challengers for top of the table. Hopefully he can put up a fight for 4th place and reverse the downward spiral that characterized the end of the Wenger era.

  7. LSG says:

    I also have to admit that I was pretty disappointed with Torreira’s game. He was there to stop Chelsea chances and got caught deep dwelling on the ball but got bailed out. He gave up a bad foul in a dangerous position for a free kick. And worst of all he was slow/casual in tracking Alonso for his goal. He just wasn’t as switched on.

    Guendouzi however had a superb game. If either of his partners had been better, I think our midfield could have been solid shielding a very exposed defense playing way too high. Instead of Ramsey as a 10, he should have come played deeper or on the right to keep Iwobi on and Mkh into the central 10. I think it wil take Emery a while to figure out what to do with these players and how to sort out our defense. We may need Lichtie to spell Bellerin who looked exhausted at 70-75’. Attacking high up to the byline and defending 2 players because Mkh seldom dropped back to cover—he was awful for 35’ before turning around his attacking play at least. Bellerin drove the ball up the pitch then was so gassed he watched an attack down his side ending in a shot on goal. Around 70’ he should have been subbed. Overall our wide play was so much improved in attack especially.

  8. Pete the Thirst says:

    The defence is a mess at the moment. Still needs serious work.

    Bellerin didn’t defend at all, he played as a winger. He can’t do that in a back four. Mickey Tar & Xhaka provided little cover. Chelsea attacked that space all game. Maybe Lich can play full back and Bellerin plays winger?

    The high line exposes the lack of pace the centre backs have.

    Xhaka was shocking and Ozil invisible. At least Emery had the stones to sub them.

  9. Pete the Thirst says:

    The positives from yesterday:

    Guendouzi was exceptional

    Monreal was his reliable self

    Cech made some great saves

    …Roll on West Ham

  10. Paulie Walnuts says:

    Pete the Thirst,

    Totally agree.
    If Emery wasn’t aware of the size of the task on his hands before he surely is now.

  11. C says:

    Good stuff Yogi.

    I have to completely agree with Damon on Cech. Because we are a side that wants to build from the back and Cech’s distribution is utter shit and his decision making leaves a lot to be desired, it allows teams to press us high with absolutely no fear of Cech playing even a half decent ball to break the lines or even hoofing it long accurately. Leno has to start and I would put Guendouzi and Torriera in that category too.

    Other positives were Iwobo who looked like a player that has been given confidence by his manager. Bellerin I though had a good game but he desperately needs help from his winger. People that want to blame him for the space left behind should actually take a look, Bellerin was defending Willian and since neither Xhaka or Mhkitaryan offered any sort of help, Alonso simply overlapped and off he went because Mhkitaryan refused to track his runner.

    Attacking wise, I’m not concerned one bit because in both matches we created chances, its defensively and I do think that the high line can work, but not with Cech because he doesn’t want to, isn’t good at nor is it his style to play that sweeper keeper role. Cech is and was a great GK but that was during an era when GK’s were ONLY shop stoppers but in the modern era they must be more at top clubs and Cech is a fish out of water.

  12. lari03 says:

    I think Emery will look back and realize his own mistakes. Xhaka’s has 2 yellows in 2 games, is as slow as shit, and you still start him? Well, he should remember he’s only on a 2-year contract and time flies.

  13. MesutsLeftFoot says:

    The opening 20minutes were horrid…We can all agree with that. Once we got a foot in the game, we actually looked capable of destroying them. Even when we were playing badly, we created 2/3 golden opportunities. So not all doom and gloom. Thought Guenduzi was amazing, he ran the show start to finish and check out the passion of his reaction when Auba misses that chance at 1-1. THAT’S the passion we need.

    Torriera looked ok i thought, some good interceptions, some good passes and some good tackles but as with every new player, he needs time to get to grips, coming on in second half vs a warmed up chelsea isn’t best introduction.

    I’m kinda pissed reading all the praise for Sarri…he’s not changed anything, they played the same way last season…He’s brought in a GK and loanee from Real…same Chelsea team that essentially won title 2 years ago. Emry has a much bigger job, so much to change and in second half i did feel defensively we were better right up til that 3rd goal.

    Ozil coming off revamped us, he got tired after 55mins and then chelsea took complete control, i’ll be first to say it, but drop him for Ramsey next week imo! If he bounces back to reclaim his position, great, if not, well we know he doesn’t fit system, sell in summer and buy someone else.

  14. MesutsLeftFoot says:


    i thought Cech was good yesterday, few dodgy distributions but otherwise i thought he was solid

  15. MesutsLeftFoot says:

    Pete the Thirst,

    I worry slightly about that game, they’ve been cuffed twice now and they’ll be looking for blood now…..We;ve also been beat twice and desperately need the win. Tough game due to that situation

  16. Birdkamp says:


    Got to say, their new signing Jorginho ran that midfield, in the second half especially. Nearly hit 100 passes, which doesn’t say much in isolation, but definitely points to the degree of control. Hard to think of many better pairs than Kante and Jorginho, especially if they mesh.

    But agree, Sarri’s has a pretty easy job – in the same way that Conte inherited a strong but unhappy team from Mourinho.

  17. MesutsLeftFoot says:


    They signed him way before sarri arrived though. Also…. Least we’re only 3 points of man u from looks of it hahaha

  18. Blue Yonder says:

    I thought Cech had a great game and made a number of strong saves that, last season, he would not have made. Still, I find it excruciating watching him playing out and his cohorts look not much better. They do it so slowly that the other team is in position for the ball, when it finally arrives.
    Bizarre, when you think about it, but Arsenal could (should) have been up 5-2 at half-time. And, but for missed chances, could have forced a draw vs City last week. So, I think there is hope and the next few matches will tell us much.

  19. Birdkamp says:


    Think he’s Sarri’s man, as Sarri had been locked for weeks in some weird clause by Napoli. Kind of like how Vieira came before AW.

    Sarri’s football needs Jorginho at the base of mf (instead of Kante), but Kante was great in box to box role for Leicester, so it works out fine.

    Like I say, he’s a good coach, but Chelsea already have the squad of a title challenger.

    Man U, and Mourinho’s reaction could really take the spotlight away from us this week.

    This Man U game could really help us this week.

  20. Birdkamp says:

    Whoops – copy pasting problems. Anyway keep it up Brighton. Hope Mourinho’s on an enormous contract.

  21. C says:


    Yes, good saves to keep us in it but through slow thinking and poor distribution we will get pressed because teams know that overall his distribution is meh. The other thing is, when you have a player like Aubameyang and even the likes of Ozil and Lacazette who all have shown a willingness to run behind, going long is an option but Cech’s not accurate.

    Personally, I agree with Damon, we know the style and have a GK in Leno who gets rave reviews for his distribution(I have watched him plenty of times and he is most certainly in the modern German, ball playing quick sweeper keeper) then lets start fresh.

    The other thing is that, Cech isn’t a sweeper keeper and if we arw going to continue with the high line like we all know will happen than put Leno in because thats what he does.

  22. C says:

    Who saw Brighton bossing Manure and I have watched this match and they are rightly in front.

  23. MesutsLeftFoot says:


    Can’t believe that’s man u i watched, for as many problems we have, they seem worse, no creativity at all.

    I can’t see Cech being dropped any time soon, but i agree Leno is a better distrobuter from what games i saw him play for Bayern, but i admit it wasn’t that many.

    I just hope Mavrapanos is given a chance, i think we could be solution for CB. Biggest issue for me wasn’t defensive, it was midfield letting their players run at our defence and not tracking them!

    Onwards and upwards. Two hard games out of the way

  24. C says:


    Yea, that Manure was shocking and they have deeper rooted problems than we do.

    I have long been a fan of Leno and I think with the style Emery plays, with the high line and playing out of the back, I think Leno is perfectly suited and on top of that he is a quality shot stopper and has little to no fear while being a commanding presense.

    I wouldn’t at all mind seeing Mavrapanos given a chance because he does seem to have the makings.

    Honestly, if you really think of the match yesterday, we could have been up 4 or 5-2 and their would have been a completely different narrative. West Ham will be interesting because I think this is the match where Emery should be his stamp on and play his best team which for me at this point would be:


    You could swap Iwobi with Mhkitaryan.

  25. Adam Singh says:

    If we are going to play a high defensive line then why did we sign Sokratis? It’s only two games in but he is no where near the centre back we needed. The problem is what other options do we have? Holding and the young Greek guy?

    We have been shocking in defence so far and it needs to be sorted out quickly otherwise we could be out of the top 4 race by October.

  26. MesutsLeftFoot says:

    Adam Singh,

    I thought originally he was a back up… And that mav would start beside Mustafi. Persoanlly Believe Mav would suit style better as he’s quick and strong.

    In next three transfer windows…. I can see a few priorities…. Mustafi perhaps leaving, new cb in, lb as nacho is getting old…. And a winger (or two) and perhaps Ramsey out and a midfielder in

  27. Adam Singh says:


    Hopefully. Although our record of signing good CBs has been pretty awful over the last few years.

    If Mav does play next Saturday he needs to remove his 1970 porn style moustache first.

  28. Aaron says:

    Looking at data on other site, Xg was way better in 1st half. Emery’s subs played worse than in the first half.
    When Xhaka and Ozil went out the whole game changed, as much as people want to slag them. Torriera did not make it better, Laca sure as hell made it worse. Chambers Loan was insane. I actually watched Bel walk back at one point on a Chelsea break when he coughed up the ball doing a Walcott. I do not know if he was cramping, but f me, between him and Laca just sauntering around made me want to crawl into the tv and sit there a$$e$ down tell them don’t expect a check this week.
    Litch next week, all day every day, Torierra and Guendouzi, but no Miki, Ozil and Ramsey in team all at the same time! Maybe put Mavro in as a CB to shake things up too!

  29. MesutsLeftFoot says:


    Agree with that. Torriera was good, he wasnt great but he was good. I’d be interested in seeing Guendouzi and he start together and see how it works from the off. Xhaka is just to immobile, he’s so slow at getting back and never tracks his man.

    Miki minus his goal was poor, I’d agree with your team choice though. Ozil I feel needs a game on bench to make him WANT to play and chase ball. Perhaps we’re still working out the dynamics of how to include him but he doesn’t seem to be fitting in so far

  30. MesutsLeftFoot says:


    Oh, problem there is who on rw…. Ramsey is ineffective there. Ozil wasted.

    Unless we shift iwobi out wide and have Auba lw and Laca up top

  31. Aaron says:

    Ozil is creator, period, not a RW not a LW, mobile mid, put Wellbeck on right up front. Ramsey can sit his a$$ on the bench. Either sit one of two center backs, and put in Mavra, at least he has pace. Laca was on f’n vacation for that goal, totally down to him! For goodness sakes just take the yellow, as Hazard was their creator at that time and the only guy who could get something from the game for them. Bel goes straight to bench too.

  32. MesutsLeftFoot says:


    Could work. But bellerin wasn’t helped by Miki at all. But agree, why no one thought to just take hazard out is beyond me. Chelsea need him, one injury and I say they struggle to create. Additionally, I see him going to Madrid next season.

  33. freddo says:

    Laca strikes me as a No 10. Surely that is his best position. With Iwobi and Welbeck outside of him and Auba up front Arsenal will have a pressing machine.
    Regarding distribution from a keeper, if you want to see what can be done, watch Matt Ryan for Brighton. He’s the Australian keeper, so I see a lot of him. The guy is genuinely two footed and absolutely nails wingers with his passes.

  34. C says:


    Another example is Ederson, he is brilliant at it but so is Navas from Madrid. Go back and watch Aguero’s goal from their match, Ederson put it perfectly into the channel for him. There was a pass when we played Citeh and were pressing and he played a ball through the lines om the ground.

    In a system like ours with a high line and wanting to have possession and quickly counter; having a goal keeper with really good to great distribution is vital.

  35. MikeSA says:

    TBH before the start of the season I wasn’t expecting anything from the first two matches…and if you’d offered me a 2-3 defeat before KO yesterday I would probably have taken it….then to see the naivety at the back and the lack of punch up front….Gah…

    but – but –surely we’ll bury those chances in future ? if so we’ll get a result.

    I did also wonder whether we’d play some cannon fodder in the first few matches – Cech and Mustafi for the expected thrashings -then once onto the easier matches bring in the newbies –so they don’t lose heart !

    I do think there is some merit in your thinking.

    Throwing new or young players under the bus has done serious damage as we’ve seen in the past, so maybe there is a bit of a mix between that and opting for some stability and maturity?

    Playing Gouendouzi does seem to be a bit of a counter to that argument, but it then again it does seem from what’s coming out that he is an exceptionally strong-willed individual who probably wouldn’t be cowed by a few punches on the nose like we’ve had in the last two games.

    I’ve seen some interesting analysis on Xhaka and his contribution to our movement and distribution that has me thinking a little about how and why Emery is experimenting with the combinations he is.

    On one occasion he was quoted as muttering about a 4-4-2, but I suspect we’re not talking about the traditional 4-4-2, nore along the lines of something either LSG or Andy (apologies, I cant remember who and I’m too lazy to try and trawl that far back to check), mentioned some time ago about using a diamond in midfield.

    Emery seems to be prepared to consider formation changes, even during games wrt defence and attack.

    I haven’t put much thought into it, but perhaps an experiment against a weaker team like this might be worth trying:







    I think that could transition into a 4-2-1-3 or 4-3-3 during matches too.

  36. Bill says:


    I know you will never throw Hector under the bus but Nacho has never gotten any more help then Bellerin and for the last 2 years the right side of our formation has always been our weak link. Like it or not Hector is either not that good or still not ready. The best way to help Hector is to play Lichtsteiner at RB

  37. Alex Ice Cream says:

    Emery’s job is made even more difficult by the horribly unbalanced squad that he inherited from Wenger. We have no widemen. None. We will also be hamstrung by the madness of the Ozil deal – we could get two players for that price and I bet that is why Ramsey has not signed. He wants parity or near to it and why not? He played better than Ozil last season. Personally, I would have sold Ozil when he hit his last 2 years – he is simply not that good and is a player who barely finishes 90 mins. He is not going to improve at 29. I would also have sold Ramsey after Euro 2016.

    My team:

    Bellerin, Papa, Mustafi, Nacho
    GwenDoozy Torreira
    Welbeck Mikki Iwobi

    If you are playing it our from the back, Leno must play. I don’t rate any of our defenders except Nacho at present. Bells is struggling but we need someone in the defence who has a bit of pace. I would drop Mustafi also but Mavropanos is not yet ready.

    Xhaka just needs to be sold, he has been outplayed by a 19 yr old in his first 2 games. Guendouzi has been a revelation, amazing from him. Mikki and Ozil cannot play on the wings or even in the same team. Emery should have worked this out now. Bench Ozil and play Mikki as no.10. Iwobi and Danny on the wings will at least provide some defensive cover.

    Not great but our best options at present – unless you want to play a back 3 which Emery doesn’t want to.

Comments are closed.

Scroll Up
%d bloggers like this: