Posted on May 25, 2017 by ADMIN

Has Arsenal’s defensive crisis handed Chelsea the FA Cup?

Arsenal might salvage something from a tough season by winning the FA Cup, but they are facing a defensive crisis ahead of the final. Facing Chelsea is a daunting enough prospect with a full team fit and raring to go, but it becomes even tougher when you are missing crucial players.

Laurent Koscielny has emerged as Arsenal’s most capable defender in recent years, so his absence through suspension is a huge blow. In the Champions League, Arsenal were doing well in both games against Bayern Munich before he left the field – once through a red card and once through injury – but fell apart after his departure, losing 5-1 on both occasions. He is quick, strong, agile and a great reader of the game. But he is prone to really dodgy tackles every now and again, and has given away plenty of penalties and been sent off, frequently costing his team. But he has captained the side for most of the season and will be a big loss after being sent off for a bad tackle in Arsenal’s final league game of the season.

In that 3-1 win over Everton, Gabriel also limped off, leaving Arsenal in full-blown crisis mode at the back. Gabriel suffered a knee injury that will keep him out for eight weeks, so the Gunners will be without two senior centre backs after an appeal over Koscielny’s ban failed. Arsenal had been in terrible form before switching to three at the back and deploying wing-backs, in a mimicking of Chelsea’s title-winning tactics, and the upsurge in their form has been significant. Since switching formations, Arsenal have won eight out of nine games, including an FA Cup semi-final victory over Man City. But they are now lacking the personnel to pull it off.

Per Mertesacker, who has spent most of the season on the sidelines with a long-term injury, could return, but that is unlikely given his extreme lack of match fitness. One of the three centre back roles will go to Rob Holding, an inexperienced but promising defender who has earned a fair bit of game time in recent weeks. Kieran Gibbs, who missed the Everton game with a knock, could return and fill in as left wing-back, which would mean Nacho Monreal could occupy another of the three centre back positions. He lacks aerial presence, but is another good reader of the game and is pretty solid. The final spot could go to Shkodran Mustafi, provided he recovers from injury. He too missed the Everton game, and has been suffering from concussion, but he could provide the Gunners with a huge boost if he is declared fit. Otherwise they might have to look at deploying someone like Francis Coquelin as an emergency defender, or switch to a back four, but a central defensive pairing of Monreal and Holding would leave Arsenal fans very pessimistic indeed.

Since the news of Arsenal’s defensive crisis broke, the odds on Chelsea winning the cup have plummeted. Trusted online betting sites will have odds for this game, and Chelsea were 10/11 when the lines were first released, but they have now dropped in to 3/4, while Arsenal have drifted all the way out to 15/4. In their last meeting, the Arsenal defence struggled to contain Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas, and lost 3-1. Fans might have hoped the shift in formation would help, but their injury problems will make it very difficult to pull off a win. Hazard and co will relish the opportunity to take on a threadbare and patched up defence and you can expect to see Chelsea scoring at least twice in this game, so Arsenal will really have their work cut out if they are to emerge with silverware.

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15 thoughts on “Has Arsenal’s defensive crisis handed Chelsea the FA Cup?

  1. muff..di...di...di...diver i now stutter cos this club made me suffer

    already getting our excuses in

    proper champion mentality
    campiones campiones ole ole ole

  2. Thierryzil

    I think Mustafi will be able to make it.

    So I see a back 3 of Monreal – Mustafi – Holding.

    Our task is ominously tough. But never should Coquelin be allowed to play CB in a game of this magnitude.

    Also, I think Bellerin shouldn’t be dropped for Chambo. Hector has looked great the last few games.

    I hope for the best, but expect the worst. COYG

  3. judge_me_in_ may... 5097

    Anything can happen in a one off.
    Deflected goal like Pogba’s.
    Red card.
    Lucky penalty award.
    Freak early injury.
    Sanchez could win the game on his own.
    50/50 my call. Any ones game.

  4. mark

    You could argue that playing our first team against Everton in the obsession to retain 4th place has cost us a good chance of beating Chelsea.

    With a weakened defence our chances of winning are not as good.

    Maybe playing a weaker defence then would have left us with our best team for the final?

    Sadly he can’t win. If he had played a weak team and Liverpool had either drawn or lost to Boro (highly unlikely) he would have been hung out to dry by the media and fans.

    Now that he has an injured defence hindsight is a wonderful thing…

    I did fancy our chances, but now I’m not so sure…it all depends on whether we turn up on the day (as always). It will be interesting to see if we play our new 3 4 3 against the team that has found success with it and how that pans out. If he reverts to a 4 man defence I fear the worst..

  5. lord wafflebury

    In other news…spuds in for douglas costa…funny how they can bid for big names, build a new stadium and say they dont need to sell their star players !
    Newcastle after william carvalho..the viera type we desperately need and youri tielemanns gone to monaco for a bargain 25 million. Where were we ?
    It will only get worse with no champions league to offer…be prepared for various bin ends to arrive at bargain prices.

    1. bran99

      Wenger has landed us exactly where his target was. no ambitious manager can have such lame excuses every single season.. excuses for not buying quality, excuses for getting thrashed by better teams, so many stuffs to talk about

  6. frustrated gunner

    we laughing at the begining of the season when mourinho was strugling but in the end he won 2 trophys

  7. Zaidy

    Chelsea 343 v Arsenal 343
    They are miles ahead of us.
    1. The players know their roles better.
    3. More experience in it.
    3. Conte has been his this formation for years, Wenger is still very new to it.
    4.Their Wingbacks contribute to goals more then our midfielders
    5.Wenger took way to long to change things.
    6.Hate to say it. But i think we have to us the same tactics Jose used against them. It’s not pretty but it worked bcos I don’t think we can win them they way spurs did, we don’t have the players for that.
    7. Forget the 3-0 win over them from the earli part of the season,bcos they clearly did.

  8. Raoh

    Koscielny and Gabriel alone would not justify the loss…Monreal can play there with holding both on either side of Mertesacker if Mustafi ain’t fit…
    Other than that issue the squad above the back line has enough quality to create chances and try to win the game…no excuses!
    It’s one game and whoever plays better, whoever wants it more will end up winning

    1. Zaidy

      Really hope it was that simple. They don’t have to play that good to break or weakened defence down. As we need to be very sharp to break there’s down.

      But let’s keep fingers x.

      Hazard Costa Pedro v holding Per Montreal

      Sanchez Welbek Ozil v Cesear Luiz Cahil

      Looks daunting.
      But it can be done

  9. Ignasi

    Yes. I just hope it will be a close scoreline.

    It could easily end up 6-0. At least Wenger will leave after that.

  10. dboy

    This is a game where tactical prowess of the manager is tested. It is his duty to set the team up properly, prepare them mentally etc. It will boil down to the best tactition on the day.

  11. lord wafflebury

    We all have a pop at maureen but he is a master tactician…look at the way he set up united last night against ajax…got the lucky break then sat back behind the ball and conceeded possesion and their kids couldnt break them down.
    Not pretty to watch but it works !
    Could we do that ?…not a cat in hells chance ! discipline…ramsey likes to bomb forward on a whim and ozil never tracks back.
    By the way, that young cb sanchez is a beast…neh..wenger will have another signing when chambers gets back !

  12. MANTAK

    Theres an incredibly obvious reason why we will get tonked by Chelsea: They are winners, as is their manager. You can discuss the possible outcome until the cows come home but the simple truth is they are better than us all over the pitch.

    Im saying 4-1 ……if we are lucky..

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