Arsenal secured a first league win since New Year’s Day as Alexandre Lacazette and Laurent Koscielny struck to seal a 2-0 win over London rivals Chelsea.
Maurizio Sarri’s side were far from their brilliant best in North London, as sarri-ball turned to sorry-ball, and Arsenal enjoyed a comfortable victory, and an infrequent clean-sheet.
So, what did we learn from the Gunners 2-0 win at the Emirates against a below-par Chelsea performance – other then Unai Emery silencing the haters once again, and coming up with the goods when things were going slightly downhill.
ARSENAL UTILISED THE DIAMOND TO PERFECTION
It was the second time Arsenal had brung the diamond formation into service, having done so in the second half against Tottenham Hotspur earlier in the season – where they came out 4-2 winners at the Emirates, with none other than Lucas Torreira sealing the win for Unai Emery’s Gunners.
But, here it was deployed from the beginning of play; Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang started up-front with Aaron Ramsey sitting behind the aforementioned.
Granit Xhaka sat at the base of the diamond with youngster Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira bounded on either side.
This provided a host of defensive stability for Arsenal, with Xhaka – an elite passer of the ball – surrounded with defensive minded midfielders in Guendouzi and Torreira. And, that showing with the Gunners managing a clean-sheet against a Chelsea side, including the likes of Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante.
CHELSEA BOSS SARRI HAS LITTLE TO NO PLAN B
Since arriving at Stamford Bridge in the summer, Italian boss Maurizio Sarri has stuck with a constant 4-3-3. The formation was very successful in the early stages of the season, with Chelsea undergoing a 18-match unbeaten run in all competitions to get the Sarri era off to a flyer.
Chelsea’s form has slowly started to decline, however, after recent defeats to Wolverhampton Wanderers, Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur in the Carabao Cup. Is this due to Sarri’s lack of initiative in chopping and changing his formation? Well, we don’t know for sure, but it’s a growing concern amongst Chelsea supporters; and, many are already calling for the Italian to be axed.
The 4-3-3 formation hasn’t done Chelsea any favours either, with the form of World Cup winner N’Golo Kante being pushed out to the right-hand side of the midfield trio to accommodate for Jorginho – who moved to the club in the summer from Napoli.
Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher stated on Monday Night Football in November that the formation Sarri currently plays makes Kante – Premier League winner with both Leicester City and Chelsea – look an average player and that a 4-2-3-1, with both the Frenchman and Jorginho in the midfield, would prove more successful.
SOKRATIS AND KOSCIELNY IS THE DEFENSIVE PARTNERSHIP ARSENAL HAVE BEEN CRYING OUT FOR
Arsenal fans have dreamt of having a defensive partnership that is solid. Down the years they have experienced some substandard central defenders making the team on a regular basis, but, have Arsenal found the two when it comes to Sokratis and Laurent Koscielny?
Sokratis has shown this season why Unai Emery brought him to the club, adding bite, strength and hunger to the Arsenal defence, whilst Laurent Koscielny had been disappointing after returning from injury prior to his man of the match display against Chelsea.
Koscielny won 100% of the tackles he committed on Saturday, as well as completing 84% passes and pursuing 13 clearances. The Frenchman also had more shots on target (2) than the entirety of the Chelsea team, scoring one after a terrific ball from his defensive partner Sokratis.
There is just one issue with Sokratis and Koscielny – that being their age. Sokratis turned 30 last year, and with Koscielny three-years older that the former, it may not be a long-term solution to Arsenal’s defensive problems, but, for the foreseeable future, this is the defensive pairing for the Gunners.
AUBAMEYANG AND LACAZETTE THRIVE UP TOP TOGETHER
Just a week after the pair were silenced by an inspired West Ham performance, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette expressed why them playing up-front together could really benefit Arsenal.
With Aubameyang penetrating the Chelsea defence and Lacazette dropping slightly deeper, at times, to join Ramsey in the central-attacking midfield role, the pair thrived alongside one another.
And, despite when the attacking duo partake in games together it can sometimes affect Arsenal defensively, it was courageous and somewhat fearless decision to start the pairing in such a monstrous match from Unai Emery, and hopefully a decision that he pulls off once again in future matches, for the sake of Arsenal’s chances of making the top four and therefore Champions League football.
BELLERIN INJURY THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED FOR ARSENAL
After a significant victory for the Gunners, disappointing news came for Unai Emery’s side on Monday morning as it was confirmed that right-back Hector Bellerin had ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament during Saturday’s second-half at the Emirates Stadium.
Bellerin will sidelined for up to nine months following his injury – that was similar to the one picked up by central defender Rob Holding earlier in the season.
The Spaniard has been instrumental for Arsenal since returning from a thigh injury in early December, and will be hugely missing throughout the remainder of the 2018/19 campaign. He possesses something that both Stephan Lichtsteiner and Ainsley Maitland-Niles both lack in his ability to use his pace in getting forward and produce a threatening end product.
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