The Arsenal v Chelsea clash tonight isn’t about points, although 3 would be very welcome. It’s about much more than that for the Gunners, it’s about presence, effort, ambition, courage, ability and performance.
The bitty side likely to turn out for the Gunners is far from the strongest on paper, but it’s one that needs to deliver a good performance, even if it’s in defeat to encourage the supporters and stop the reactionary section of the fan base from erupting into more infighting.
There are expected to be empty seats at the Emirates as part of a protest, but that may not be as big a deal as it sounds because supporters may change their minds after a lengthy absence from live football.
Chelsea look impressive, they’re Champions League and Super Cup winners, which should mean that they’re contenders for the Premier League this year, but hold on, aren’t we getting carried away. Even with Lukaku, they can still be prone to lethargy and look ordinary, but I guess we won’t know until the first whistle.
There’s a danger that Arsenal could be overrun, but they have beaten Chelsea with a plan that included stifling their creative play in triangles of three or pairs of two, pressing and closing down. However, they now have a powerful target man who is a formidable prospect for any defender in the Premier League and only a figure of similar stature such as Sol Campbell would have been equal to the task.
No doubt, an Adams/Bould/Keown combination would have made life difficult for the giant Belgium striker with slick positioning and teamwork, but Arsenal with its less than stable, partially finished backline certainly looks vulnerable to the towering forward.
Arteta has made his players aware of the importance of this Arsenal v Chelsea game in terms of pressure and I’m expecting performances from Lokonga, soon to be captain Kieran Tierney, Saka and Smith Rowe to offer up some moments of magic.
Just how the frontline will pan out is anyone’s guess but if Aubameyang isn’t available, perhaps Martinelli could be the lone striker in 3-2-4-1 which sounds fairly defence-minded, but it’s on the break that this could work.
Smith Rowe could play a slightly advanced role in the midfield four, with the obvious threat of Saka and Pepe on the flanks. Who knows, there could even be room for Tavares in an adjusted position, the lad is athletic and attack-minded which could present problems.
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At the back, it could be Tierney, Holding and White, although I’d love to see Gabriel alongside the former Brighton man and the flying Scotsman. This will be as much about attitude and application as it is the skill and technical ability and on paper, Arsenal will find possession in short supply.
Can the Gunners get a result in the Arsenal v Chelsea game? Yes, of course, but it will require absolute focus and effort from every player but they will also have to be incredibly patient to get any reward. If any opportunities present themselves in front of goal at the Emirates, then Arsenal need to seize them with both hands, they can’t afford to be wasteful in front of goal because they will pay for any inefficiency at this level.
Be hopeful, Arsenal need to start firing by competing with the best. Stay tuned to know more!