It has almost always been the case for Arsenal under Arsene Wenger, particularly in the last few years, that we have dominated possession of the ball against almost all opposing teams. We have the players with the passing ability to do that, such as Arteta, Rosicky, Cazorla and many more but it was also the way the boss wanted his teams to play.
However, as last season painfully taught the Frenchman, possession is not nine tenths of football as it is the law and those heavy and damaging away drubbings at the hands of Liverpool, Man City, Everton and our opponents this weekend Chelsea have forced the manager to re-evaluate his tactics against the bigger sides and boy has it paid off, as Wenger explained in a report on the Arsenal website.
Giving the team a more defensive shape and mindset has meant that the Gunners are no longer so horribly exposed to the counter attack and that has conversely allowed the team to be more attacking as it has given the forward players the belief to press ahead with real intent as they no longer have the fear that losing the ball will lead to a goal at the other end of the pitch.
Wenger said, “I think we are a bit more efficient defensively but not necessarily more cautious.
”Maybe we attack even more. There is less reluctance to go forward when we have the ball when the belief is stronger.
“When we go, we go because the belief is behind them. Sometimes it is difficult to let that inhibition go when the belief is not there. When you are on a winning route, it is a bit easier.
“We have to organise that the players who go forward [against Chelsea] do so with 100 per cent belief and the players who do not go protect us from being caught on the counter-attack.
“We have been good [when defending] counter-attacks, but Chelsea have been the most efficient team on them. Maybe as well they play a bit more for that.”
So as long as the weight of history does not hang around the players shoulders later, Arsenal have a great chance of adding the scalp of Chelsea to those of Man United, Liverpool and Man City picked up with our new tactics which make the Gunners fearless against any team.