PMB: Arsenal v Chelsea - history and tactics
news Wed 3 Jan 2018
We complete our preview for the game with a glance at the past and at tonight from club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton…
WE HAVE HISTORY
Chelsea and Arsenal lock horns for the fourth time since the end of May (the fifth if you factor in the pre-season meeting in Beijing), with a two-legged Carabao Cup semi-final to come in the next few weeks.
Arsenal have not managed to remain unbeaten against Chelsea over a Premier League season since 2011/12, but Chelsea’s only league victory at the Emirates in the past four seasons came in January 2016.
In that game the Gunners had to play for 70 minutes with 10 men after Per Mertesacker’s dismissal. Willian played an astute ball behind the German for Diego Costa, and when he fouled the Chelsea no.9, Mertesacker’s marching orders were inevitable.
The score stood at 0-0 and Wenger responded by hauling off centre-forward Olivier Giroud and bringing on Gabriel to plug the defensive gap. Five minutes after it was made the substitute defender was at fault on the only goal, losing Diego Costa as he moved to meet Branislav Ivanovic’s near-post cross.
The Gunners’ skipper Laurent Koscielny may have been fortunate not to follow his centre-back partner into the shower when he barged Cesc Fabregas to the ground in the area. Referee Mark Clattenburg saw nothing wrong and no penalty was given, the Blues seeing out a cherished 1-0 victory.
Highlights of the game are below...
Chelsea have won seven of our past 12 Premier League meetings with Arsenal, with the Gunners winning once – last season.
Prior to last season’s defeat, the Blues had visited the Emirates five times in the top flight without defeat, a sequence including two wins and three goalless draws.
Arsenal’s previous home win against the Blues was in December 2010. Alexandre Song, Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott put the Gunners 3-0 up before Branislav Ivanovic replied in the second half.
Our past 10 away league meetings at Arsenal
OUR LAST MEETING AT THE EMIRATES
The reverse fixture this season
17 September 2017 Premier League
Other match this season
6 August 2017 Community Shield
Kolasinac 82 Moses 46
Arsenal won 4-1 on pens after 90 mins
Biggest league win at Arsenal for each team
Arsenal 5-2 Chelsea - 16/04/1979
Arsenal 1-4 Chelsea - 09/04/1960, 12/11/1960 and 10/05/2009
• Antonio Conte has a virtually empty treatment room, with David Luiz and Charly Musonda likely to return in time for Saturday’s FA Cup trip to Norwich. For once Chelsea have also enjoyed an extra day to rest and prepare ahead of a big London derby. On top of that Tiemoue Bakayoko, Andreas Christensen, Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard were rested completely or in part while team-mates stuffed Stoke 5-0, our biggest margin of victory in the top flight since playing Everton in November 2016.
• In the Belgian maestro’s absence, Willian converted only the Blues’ second league penalty this season (the first came against Newcastle earlier the same month).
• Additional positives were yet another headed goal (for Toni Rudiger, the centre-back’s third goal in all competitions), and a third successive clean sheet for Thibaut Courtois.
• Alvaro Morata started in a 3-4-3 against the Potters, while Hazard and Fabregas offer Chelsea’s head coach the option of a return to the 3-5-2 set-up. That might come at the expense of in-form Pedro and Willian, whose fast, intuitive interplay may cause the Gunners’ depleted defence and midfield problems.
• Arsene Wenger has generally stuck this season to a 3-4-2-1 shape, though Manchester United’s 3-1 win in north London may have prompted the reversion to 4-2-3-1 when Liverpool were the visitors; that game finished 3-3.
• Since then Arsenal’s armoury has been somewhat reduced by injuries to the likes of Sead Kolasinac, Nacho Monreal and Olivier Giroud, with late assessments for today’s game due on key figures Laurent Koscielny and Mesut Ozil. The hosts will miss Kolasinac’s storming runs down the left, though Wenger appears to prefer his likely replacement, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, when he reverts to a back four.
• Without Aaron Ramsey, the Frenchman has used a midfield screen of Granit Xhaka and Jack Wilshere. The Englishman’s return has shown he is still capable of defence-splitting passes. Missing the tenacious Nacho Monreal in the run-up to New Year, Calum Chambers returned to the fold.
• Summer signing Alexandre Lacazette has either scored or set up a goal against every top-six opponent he has faced – except Chelsea. Three-quarters of the Frenchman’s league goals have come at the Emirates.
• This season the Gunners have settled into a pattern of playing the ball wide to the halfway line, then playing it into the middle of the attack, rather than use the flanks. In the past few weeks they have had Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez to conjure something, but the German may not make the team this evening.
• Like Chelsea, the north Londoners have taken the lead 16 times in the league. They have conceded an equaliser on five occasions, though, compared with the Blues’ two.
• The hosts are yet to concede in the last 15 minutes of either half in front of their own supporters.
OLD BOY BLUES
• Petr Cech is in the pantheon of Chelsea’s legends, not least for his crucial penalty saves in the 2012 Champions League final. The goalie won 15 major trophies over 11 years at the Bridge.