By 1970’s Gooner
Spurs Vs Chelsea. What a fantastic advert for English football. Eight goals, continuous running, commitment and changing fortunes throughout the game with a last ditch wonder goal to make it a deserved draw for both teams.
I, along with a lot of Gooners, was cheering for our North London enemies and they did not disappoint, apart from Berbatov who should have buried that last minute chance.
Nevertheless as with many things you are only as good as your last outing, whether that was on the football pitch or in any other walk of life.
Why do I say that? Because Chelsea are not likely to play any different against Arsenal than they did against Spurs.
They play a 4 3 3 with Drogba in front flanked by Joe Cole and Kalou and with Makelele, Essien and Lampard in the midfield positions.
Surprisingly it was Essien who was making the forward runs against Spurs (he got the second goal) with Lampard being more conservative and Makelele sitting in front of the back four.
They did score four goals but they let in four. So how can Arsenal go one better than Spurs and score more goals than Chelsea?
1. Joe Cole is more dangerous than Drogba. So keep him quiet
Joe Cole has always been dangerous but on Wednesday night he was very dangerous.
Every time he got the ball and had a chance to run at his defender he created havoc.
He scored two very good goals and created a third.
He generally posed a bigger threat than Drogba, who apart from his well taken goal in the third minute was generally quiet.
It must be said however that Joe Cole’s side of the pitch was defended by the inept Chimbonda who was at fault for both of Cole’s goals.
He did not have a good game as he was after all playing on the wrong side of the pitch. He is a right footed player playing on the left side of the defence, like Lauren was if you remember a few seasons back.
That was when Joe Cole turned him on many occasions and eventually scored a clinching winning goal at Highbury.
So keeping Joe Cole quiet will go a long way towards nullifying Chelsea’s threat from the right hand side of the pitch. Clichy and especially Flamini will I think be the key players in doing a job on him.
Flamini in particular will be covering for Clichy when he forays forward to assist in Arsenal’s attacks especially if Hleb ventures in field in more central areas.
Chelsea, since the departure of Robben, have lacked balance every time they try to play 4 3 3. Kalou was deployed on the left wing at White hart Lane but did not offer much penetration or threat.
Anelka is trying to get fit for the game but I wouldn’t think that Grant will risk another lacklustre performance by playing him on the wing as he did for the Carling Cup Final.
So to my mind keeping Joe Cole quiet will be important and I have every confidence that young Clichy (and Flamini) will be up for it.
2. Defend set pieces properly
Unlike Arsenal, Chelsea are very dangerous from set pieces as they have the players that can do damage. There is Terry, who returned to scoring at Sunderland from a set piece, Carvalho, Drogba and Ballack, if he plays.
Spurs defended the set pieces and the high balls reasonably well. King and Woodgate (whom I rate highly) were very effective as were Hutton, Zakora and Huddlestone (when he came on).
It’s a pity that Diaby will probably not be available as he would have been ideal to defend set pieces and help Clichy out on the left wing.
The rest of the Arsenal players apart from Adebayor and Van Persie are not that good at defending high balls so a lot of concentration is needed from those that will be defending.
Almunia can become very important in these kind of situations by coming out and catching the high balls relieving the pressure.
If Arsenal can manage to keep them quiet at set pieces then they will go a long way in getting a result.
3. Attack from the wide areas of the pitch not from the middle
The middle is very likely to be a congested area and trying to thread the ball in through so many bodies is always difficult as we are finding out recently.
On Wednesday night Chelsea were very vulnerable from crosses and putting more emphasis on wing play by Arsenal will I feel go a long way in putting Chelsea’s defence under a lot of pressure.
It is important to stretch the play for another reason and that is to decongest the middle areas of the pitch which will give more time and especially space to Fabregas to weave his magic and try and dictate play.
And we all know that when the little maestro is on song, the whole team ticks like clockwork and then anything can happen…..
So it will be important that Hleb is detailed to stay more on the wide areas rather than venturing infield as he usually does and the same will hold for Eboue of course.
Another option for Wenger will be to play Hleb just behind Adebayor and Van Persie on the left hand side with Eboue on the right.
This will match Chelsea’s 4 3 3 and at the same time provide more thrust on the wings. It is a possibility.
Let us hope
Let us hope that Mark Clattenburg is not as a big a chicken as Riley was and produces the cards when they are needed to keep the game clean.
But what I also hope for (apart from the obvious) is for a repeat from Avram Grant in making “those type of substitutions” at the most crucial points of the game…..