Well, Arsenal vs. Chelsea was a cracking match on Saturday as Alexandre Lacazette and Laurent Koscielny scored the only goals of the clash. Here are the five things that I would say are the biggest talking points from the game:
Hudson-Odoi gets a fluff piece, but it may not be enough to make him stay.
One very important talking point came from the lineups and that was the exclusion of the young Callum Hudson-Odoi, who only came off the bench for the last 10 to 15 minutes. The rumour mill regarding his transfer has been pumping out several headlines over the past few days and it looked like Chelsea had changed their tact by starting him in the League Cup Semi Final.
This, under pressure from a 35 million pound bid from Bayern Munich for the young England international, who are said to be offering him wages of around £80,000. Today, however, he was left on the bench in one of the most important games in the race for fourth, and it remains to be seen whether the Blues will have done enough to convince him to stay by January 31st.
Emery’s Tactics and Arsenal’s Togetherness Wins Through
Throughout the game, one thing that was evident was just how calm and prepared Arsenal seemed to be, while Chelsea were the opposite. Even in the first minute, Chelsea had almost given the ball away on the edge of their own box, David Luiz misplaced a pass that N’Golo Kante couldn’t get but was luckily cleared up.
Nonetheless, it set the tone for a nervous performance from Chelsea who will have known how important this game was in the race for 4th and Champions League qualification. Apart from a ten minute spell when it was just 1-0, Arsenal never looked out of control or even disorganised. They pressed together and defended together when their lead was certain, everybody knew the part they had to play and they were clinical when given a chance.
Lacazette and Aubameyang look like they’re having a great time playing together and have formed a real partnership, while the defence looked very confident, Kolasinac getting a special mention for some good attacking movement too. Overall, Arsenal have made The Emirates a home now, and the good feeling they had will be back after victory in this fierce derby has strengthened their claim on 4th, which is currently in their opponent’s possession.
Sarri’s Chelsea Looks One-Dimensional And A Little Confused
The fact that Chelsea have a jewel like Eden Hazard, they should be playing some more exciting football and really attacking their opponents more. If they’re not careful, some more unsure performances like this one may tell their jewel that it might be time to be moving on somewhere bigger.
He was the focal point for all of Chelsea’s attacking moves today, but Arsenal had him thoroughly in their pockets for almost the entire game and he cut a frustrated figure at the best of times. There wasn’t a lot for him to take pride in during this game, sure he’s the guy who draws the most fouls in the league, but Chelsea must realise that other teams already have him pegged as the most dangerous player in their team before he steps onto the grass. Ultimately, it means that teams will attempt to build an extra line of defence against him and a team of Arsenal’s quality will be able to successfully do that.
Hazard’s partners in Willian and Pedro looked a bit too much on the edges of play today, having to move around a lot when Hazard would often come over to their wings to receive the ball. A central striker was clearly missing in Chelsea’s team today, Giroud did not look best pleased when exiting the changing rooms 2 minutes after the second half had started, while Morata is supposed to be close to moving back to Spain in the coming days, so Chelsea should probably be focusing their efforts on replacing him in the attack.
N’Golo Kante was another big name in Chelsea’s starting lineup who struggled, he looked rather out of place in a more attacking position and this choice by the gaffer has been the focus of much of the ire directed from Chelsea fans this season so far.
Ramsey Shows Arsenal What They’ll Be Missing
There must have been some sort of miscommunication between the management team and the higher ups somewhere at The Gunners, as Ozil didn’t even make it off the bench yet Ramsey started. The problem with that sentence, is that Ramsey’s contract had so little time to run on it that he is now in the Bosman zone and has now signed on to join Juventus at the end of the season
Arsenal fans were mostly in consensus about not wanting such a talented and committed player to leave the club, especially on a free at the end of the season, and rightly so when he’s starting the big games like this one and putting a real shift in. When you let players like that go, it can often have an effect on the rest of the team and, with Ozil also out of favour, Arsenal will need to replace one of their best creative outlets in the 28-year-old Welshman. He has been a crowd favourite in recent years, owing to several goals pinged from his left boot, plus how hard he works for the team even when out of favour, he won’t be an easy act to follow.
London Derby Can Still Be Interesting, Even When Not For Titles
If someone had said ten years ago that Arsenal and Chelsea would be battling for fourth with United close behind, many people would have laughed. So quick has been the changing of the guards in recent years, with teams like City and Liverpool now the dominant superpowers, that although it’s only merely to qualify for the Champions League, this too is a race that is hotting up, with the monetary value and prestige of playing in the premier European competition again at stake. United fans will also look fondly on this result, as the gap between them and 4th, which not long ago seemed to be slipping away from them, gets ever smaller by the week it seems.
The Emirates Stadium was roaring, despite being a place criticised sometimes as not having the atmosphere that Highbury once had, with Arsenal fans in full voice throughout. Emery looked at home already, while his project takes another leap forward with an important home win and his side’s fans will be remembering this strong victory whenever it comes time to exercise the bragging rights against their close neighbours.