It’s matchday 12 in the Premier League and fans are treated to a London derby battle between Chelsea and current league leaders, Arsenal.
Chelsea head into the fixture following a 2-1 victory against Dinamo Zagreb in Champions League football from Wednesday and have dropped to 6th in the Premier League table after a poor display to lose 4-1 against Graham Potter’s former side, Brighton. Arsenal will also be fresh from European night victory from a 1-0 victory against FC Zurich on Thursday in the Europa League. The Gunners remain top of the league and continue to be two points clear at the top with their 5-0 demolition of Nottingham Forest in their last domestic game.
Still new in the manager’s seat, Graham Potter’s Chelsea side has done relatively well on paper, winning seven of their last ten games in all competitions. However, a disappointing defeat to Brighton will undoubtedly provide a risk of a reality check for Chelsea as they now face the league leaders. Arsenal’s brilliant form throughout the season has certainly labelled them as a dangerous side as Mikel Arteta’s team has only lost one game all season in the league but will be disappointed to drop points against Southampton.
When and Where?
Date: 6th November 2022.
Venue: Stamford Bridge.
Time: 12:00 GMT.
Referee: Michael Oliver.
Assistant referees: Stuart Burt, Dan Cook.
Fourth official: Robert Jones.
VAR: Jarred Gillett.
Assistant VAR: Matthew Wilkes.
Chelsea continues to add to their list of injuries with Ben Chilwell recently being confirmed to miss out on the World Cup after a hamstring injury. Reinvigorated goalkeeper, Kepa, has also been ruled out by Potter and long-term injuries to Wesley Fofana, Reece James and N’Golo Kanté will also see them miss out.
Arsenal’s last game saw Takehiro Tomiyasu come off injured and looks highly unlikely to feature against Chelsea. Matt Turner also remains doubtful with a groin injury and Emile Smith-Rowe will certainly miss out as he deals with surgery for a groin injury. On the positive side for Arteta, Bukayo Saka and summer signing, Oleksandr Zinchenko, both look to be back in contention for the team as they appear to have recovered from their injuries.
Graham Potter places a lot of focus on attacking discipline and opportunity creation in games. In some situations, pressing is used to take advantage of gaps in the opponent’s midfield where players may not be in the proper position. Chelsea’s attack transition is still reliable and fluid during this time, with a variety of player movements.
The players appear to have adapted effectively to his techniques and style of play even if he hasn’t had enough time to completely develop his philosophy. Potter has already presented his team with a much more adaptable system, frequently switching between a back three and a back four, as well as tactical diversity between a 4-2-3-1 and 4-2-2-2 formation.
Even in ‘simple’ passes between the midfield and wingbacks, the Chelsea team appears to make better decisions. In the past, Chelsea frequently saw the flanks cut off, which resulted in Chelsea losing the ball in specific areas of the field. The Chelsea team’s vulnerability, though, can be noticed in Potter’s players’ lack of defensive commitment, especially the wingbacks. When combined with the requirement to run forward and create chances through crosses and overlapping runs, the wide players frequently find themselves in a “strange” situation where they are unsure of whether to mark the space behind them, to the side of them in midfield, or press in front of them. Arsenal’s brilliant exploitation of space in these areas could prove to be crucial in this game.
The difference in quality for Arsenal between the current and last season looks to be nothing short of staggering. Arteta’s principles of being a possession-based, controlling team that counter-presses when losing the ball, has touted The Gunners as one of the most exciting teams to watch in the Premier League this season. The fluid and attacking-minded football of this season has certainly been helped by the summer reinforcements in the transfer window, but credit has to be given to Arteta and his coaching staff for being able to instil the creative football that is being produced by the Arsenal side this season.
Arsenal usually lineup in a 4-2-3-1 shape although this tends to push into more of a 4-3-3 when the side begins to build up the play. This season’s use of Ben White as a fullback has meant that Arsenal can take up a 3-2-2-3 formation in attack, with the defender tucking inside to allow the opposite fullback to push forwards. Arsenal’s fluid forwards rotating positions in the box have been crucial in their goalscoring play. A key part of Arsenal’s style of play this season is their ability to crowd the final third to make it incredibly difficult for the opponent to win the ball back. Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka flood the opposition half in the spaces between the midfield and attack and minimise the space available on the pitch for the opponent – creating a real challenge for the opposition to break free of the Arsenal pressure, let alone creating an opportunity for the counter-attack.
Mason Mount has looked like a unique player under Potter this season, acting as the catalyst in the team to create and score chances. Arsenal will be a difficult game for Chelsea, but if Mason Mount can use the creativity that he does possess in his locker, it will become much easier for Chelsea to unlock the Chelsea side and create opportunities to score.
Gabriel Jesus has started the season exceptionally well for Arsenal this season. The Brazilian hasn’t scored in his last eight games for the club but it’s not just about the goalscoring, as contradictory as it might sound for a striker. Jesus has taken up a rotational role in the front line for Arsenal and his attacking intelligence in the final third will be crucial for Arsenal to roam about with eh ball to pull apart the Chelsea defence and allow other players to get into attacking positions. After all, it wouldn’t be a surprise if this is the game in which Jesus can end his goal drought.
Chelsea predicted lineup vs Arsenal: Mendy, Chalobah, Silva, Koulibaly, Azpilicueta, Kovacic, Jorginho, Cucurella, Mount, Havertz, Sterling.
Arsenal predicted lineup vs Chelsea: Ramsdale, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Tierney, Odegaard, Partey, Xhaka, Saka, Jesus, Martinelli.