Previous names: Dial Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich Arsenal
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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mikel, 4 4 1 1 and the full backs the key to beating Chelsea

By 1970’s Gooner

There are a lot of things that need to work for you if you are going to win a game. First and foremost is to really want to come out on top. To want it more than the other team, to fight for every ball and for every little battle that will crop up all over the pitch.

This was so evident against Manchester United but so lacking against Villa and Manchester City.

Why this inconsistency will be a subject for another posting on this site. For now and today it is Chelsea in front of us and the above pathos needs to be exhibited in abundance if we are to hurt Chelsea and get back in the title race.

Beyond this however Arsenal need to address the opponent’s weaknesses and try and exploit them to the full.

Stifle Mikel

The first is that Chelsea’s play is mostly channeled through Jon Obi Mikel.

He is their Makalele who sits in front of their defence, protects their area, picks up the ball after it is won and organizes their play by bringing the ball out of their half of the pitch.

Put a man there in front of him to close down the space and shake him out of his way and you succeed in disturbing Chelsea’s flow and organisation.

That is why it is important that Arsene opts for a 4 4 1 1 or 4 5 1 formation today with Adebayor the lone striker but whoever plays behind him to drop back in the Mikel area and close down the space.

Press high up

It is also important that Arsenal’s midfield and forward minded players press high up the pitch thus forcing Chelsea’s distribution to be carried out as much as is possible by their defenders.

In this way mistakes will be made and balls will be won in their half of the pitch.

Exploit their full backs

The other significant aspect of Chelsea’s play that Arsenal need to exploit is the fact that Scolari instructs his full backs to go forward and support their forwards.

This creates opportunities for Arsenal because by playing a more conservative formation in midfield, stifling Chelsea’s full backs and more importantly hitting them on the counter attack in the spaces vacated will bring dividends.


Prediction: Clichy and Nasri combine for the winner