Arsenal got their quest for a top four finish back on track with an important and impressive 2-0 win over Chelsea on Saturday evening.
Two first-half goals by Alexandre Lacazette and captain Laurent Koscielny sent the Gunners on their way at the Emirates Stadium in a game that saw Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri struggling for answers in his post-match conference.
But, it was the way Unai Emery’s men defended that was probably the most pleasing on the eye from an Arsenal perspective.
Hector Bellerin returned to the starting lineup, which gave the manager the option of playing with a back-four formation again, and it was clear from the outset that it is a system the team prefers.
The manager, though, implemented a defensive tactic that not a lot of teams have used against Chelsea recently, at least not since Sarri has been using Eden Hazard as a false nine.
Emery forced his full-backs to sit deeper and tighter to the centre-backs every time the Blues came on attack and close to the Arsenal box.
That meant that Bellerin’s positioning was very close to Sokratis Papastathopoulos’ every time Willian and Marcos Alonso tried to attack, while on the other side Sead Kolasinac was much deeper with Koscielny every time Pedro tried to create something on the right-flank.
This blocked the chances of Chelsea feeding a low pass behind the Arsenal defensive line, because Emery knew they won’t whip crosses into the centre.
These tactics by the home side ultimately forced Chelsea to pass back to players in better positions to try and master something out of nothing.
In the end, Sarri’s men failed to be creative due to the defensive masterstroke by the Arsenal defenders and it was no surprise that Chelsea only managed their first shot on target deep into the second-half.
The win would’ve given Arsenal a lot of confidence heading into an important period for the club, given it was only their third clean-sheet in the Premier League this season.
Indeed, while much has been made about the problems Chelsea are suffering, it was an Emery masterclass that won this game.Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!