The Premier League action continues in the mid-week after the spicy United vs Liverpool clash last night. Today we have got the London Derby. The Reds of London (Arsenal) are up against the Blues of London (Chelsea) at Stamford Bridge.
The London derby means fiercely contested matches, close calls, and last-minute goals. Over the years Chelsea dominated this clash but this year Arsenal were in top-notch form and could give Chelsea a run for their money but they lost their way from the past few games.
Coming into this game Chelsea came back from a thumping victory over Crystal Palace in the FA Cup semi-final this Sunday. They also came off thrashing Southampton in the premier league by a big margin.
On other hand, their opponents Arsenal are out of momentum as they have lost 4 out of their last 5 games. Interestingly their latest loss came to Southampton whom Chelsea had thrashed by a 6-0 nil margin.
For Arsenal, they have injuries in their defense, both their first-choice fullbacks Tierney and Tomiyasu are out for the season with leg injuries. Thomas Partey is out with a muscular problem, while Lacazette is out with Covid 19 infection.
This for Arsenal depends on which formation Mikel Arteta chooses to go against Chelsea
There 2 possibilities
1) Arteta chooses to go and match his opponents out and out and choose to set up his team in a 3-4-2-1
Ramsdale, Gabriel, Holding, Ben White, Saka, Soares, Xhaka, Lokonga, Emile Smith Rowe, Odegaard, Martinelli
2) Arteta goes with his traditional formation of 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3
Ramsdale, Soares, Ben White, Gabriel, Nuno Tavares, Xhaka, Lokonga, Odegaard, Saka, Emile Smith Rowe, Martinelli
The blues have some injury concerns, Ben Chilwell is still out, Hudson -Odoi is yet to recover from his back injury. The latest addition to their injury list was Kovacic who was subbed off injured against Crystal Palace. Finally, Ross Barkley might too not feature as there is no clarity about his Covid situation.
Talking about team selection experience Thiago Silva looks to come back meaning James occupies his wingback position and Cesar Azpilicueta might go back to the bench. Alonso will continue in LWB in absence of Chilwell. Ruben Loftus Cheek might continue after his brilliant performance in UCL and then FA Cup. Kante might replace injured Kovacic. In an attack, Tuchel might choose the same front 3 from the previous match.
Mendy, Christensen, Thiago Silva, Rudiger, Recce James, Marcus Alonso, Kante, Ruben Loftus Cheek, Mount, Havertz, Werner
Analysis of Arsenal under Arteta
Much was criticized at the start of the season about Arteta when Arsenal was languishing as the wooden spooners. But Pep Guardiola’s former assistant, Mikel Arteta led a swift turnaround for the Gunners who now see them as the frontrunners in the top four race. Arteta is a man full of in-game tactics. Granit Xhaka, the most important player under Arteta’s setup, is used as a left-sided no.8. His role of building up attacks from the back has been a standout. Partey is used in a more defensive role.
In Tomiyasu and Tierney, Arteta has two workhorse fullbacks who are engaged in wing play as well as crossing into the box all the time. White and Gabriel from the heart of defense in which Partey slides in while being off the ball. Emily Smith-Rowe is a floating midfielder who adjusts himself in different positions according to the situation of the game. Odegaard is used as a creator on the right flank enabling Saka to feed on those balls and cut in to create goal-scoring chances. A 3v3 on both wings enables Arsenal in displaying swift gameplay. Lacazette also drops deep sometimes to help in ball progression into the opponent box. In this way, Arsenal’s game unfolds.
Analysis of Chelsea under Tuchel
Thomas Tuchel, one of the best tacticians in the world right now, has transformed Chelsea into a world-class team. Under him, the West London club played in different formations at different times. Tuchel primarily goes with a 3-4-3 formation in the
attack. Of the three CBs, Rudiger is the ball-playing CB with him acting as the main ball carrier into the final third down the middle. Reece James and Alonso in the wings operate in quick counters as also sending in pinpoint crosses. Jorginho drops deep to take the role of a deep-lying playmaker. Kante feeds on those balls to carry those into the attacking third for their attackers. Mount, helped by a free role, drops deep to take balls as well as to create goal-scoring chances. Lukaku/Havertz remain in and around the box to engage the opposition defenders but also become a second striker sometimes to avoid marking. Pulisic/Ziyech combined with James on the right. Tuchel makes Chelsea perform well in this gameplay.
Players to watch out for
The English youngster is one of the best players in the squad right now for Chelsea. With Lukaku out injured. Mount has taken the reins upon him to keep Chelsea’s scoreboard ticking. And he has a habit of performing well against top teams in big matches. He is already the top scorer for the club with 10 goals and 8 assists overall. Against Arsenal too we have an instrumental role to play in Chelsea’s victory.
For Arsenal, another English youngster is in red hot form. Saka this year for Arsenal has been scoring goals in all important games. He’s a perfect match for the philosophy Arteta wants to impose at the club. Many people seem to forget that Saka is only 20 years old and is managing the responsibilities of his prestigious club with ease. He is definitely a player to watch out for Arsenal.
This London derby promises to be an enthralling match. Arsenal would look back and bounce from their string of defeats. What better game than this game to get their things back on track. For Chelsea, it was carrying on their winning momentum and finishing in the top 4 in the premier league.
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Ashutosh Welankar Law graduate by degree. Football lover and blogger by passion.