Chelsea vs Arsenal Opinion: Europa League Final – A Tactical Breakdown
Chelsea and Arsenal played out what was an extremely exciting yet tactical fixture in the final of the Europa League in Baku. The Gunners were blown away by the Blues vibrant attacking play in the 2nd half and it seemed like the Arsenal defence just fell apart for a large period after the interval. Maurizio Sarri’s men were comfortable 4-1 winners on the night as they simply outplayed the Gunners on every level.
Chelsea’s defence looked like a group of players determined to ensure that Kepa Arrizabalaga behind them didn’t have too much to do in the game. They threw themselves all over the place to get an unbelievable number of blocks in and even dealt with set-pieces extremely well. Kepa made a couple of spectacular saves to keep the Arsenal tally down to just one.
The Gunners defence seemed to capitulate at the sight of Eden Hazard running at them in the 2nd half. All of the centre-halves made mistakes and it cost them 4 goals within 25 minutes of the 2nd half. The full-backs struggled to deal with the attacking presence of the likes of Pedro, Olivier Giroud and Willian later on.
The easiest statement to make about this fixture was that Jorginho won the Blues this match in midfield. Although Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante both worked their socks off right from the opening minute, it was Chelsea’s Italian midfield commander’s near-perfect short passing that kept the Chelsea side ticking from side to side.
The Gunners’ main man in midfield was supposed to be Mesut Ozil sitting just in behind the two strikers. Although he can be a technical genius at time, the German didn’t turn up at all and should be criticised heavily for going missing in yet another big game. Other thank Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira tried to impact the game but to no great avail.
Olivier Giroud was the man tasked with the job of leading the Chelsea line against Unai Emery’s men. Although the striker struggled to have an effect in the first, he stepped up at the all-important moment and scored his team’s opener. He even won a penalty and set up Hazard for his second goal as well to complete what was a brilliant display against his former club.
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Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang were the centre of attention going into this tie and the Chelsea defence has thrown light on the situation. The Gunners attacking duo were kept quiet by the Blues back-line for the most part. Whatever chances they did get, the pair of the were fairly wasteful in the Chelsea box as well.