Chelsea Review – Great to beat them but hardly an inspiring performance

Arsenal gifted a win at Chelsea by Konstantin Mitov

Well lovely Arsenal people, as the years went by I was wondering when are we winning a league game at Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge again? Yet for all the wait, never did I think I’d feel so little towards it. And we even did the double over Chelsea for the first time since 2004!

We were spared by Havertz after a typical Arsenal mistake by Mari left him 1:1 with Leno. Then Jorginho tried his best to score an own goal, but was denied by Kepa only to have Aubameyang find Smith-Rowe who miss-kicked it, but it still went in. We didn’t really use the goal to improve our play and Chelsea remained the better team and unlucky to go in 1-0 down at half time.

The second half started with Chelsea making changes and us staying put. Arteta doesn’t like substitutions, nor motivational pep-talks at half time, so no surprises here. We didn’t really create anything, but luckily Chelsea hit the bar 2 times and it was one of those days where it just went our way. Partly lucky, partly us being solid at the back, we took 3 points that keep our slim European chances theoretically alive.

There were a few good performances. Leno for a change, Gabriel as well, then there was Elneny who has been decent every time when he plays with Partey, and it was a delight not to have Ceballos strolling around and giving the ball away. Finally Smith-Rowe scored his second premier league goal and even though he got a little lucky, he was working really hard.

That said, our performance wasn’t great. If we were challenging for the title and went there and won this game 1-0 it would’ve meant something. Beating a much rotated Chelsea side, who will play a cup final in the weekend and a Champions league final soon after, sitting comfortably in the top 4, really sucks much of the joy out of it. I still prefer their position and I’d still have their manager over ours.

The pressure has come to Arteta. He will survive this summer, which is bewildering to say the least, but fans, pundits and former players have aimed their guns at him, and he feels the heat and the need to turn fortunes around quickly. I see it difficult to happen when he started pointing the finger in Mourinho-style fashion.

Firstly it was the process that started 5 years ago, essentially Wenger, who Mikel lauded so much when he arrived. In recent press-conferences it was the players, who we’ve gotten the maximum out of, which is highly debatable, or some have under-performed. He publicly went out and said he needs money, practically doubling down on the point the players aren’t good enough.

That comes from a man who’s been extremely demanding of young players like Martinelli, who is dropped even if he has a good game. Or William Saliba who’s rocking it out in France, but can’t even get a game here, where we’ve seen far too often silly defensive mistakes. Then there are the likes of Willian who got a free pass on many poor performances, because he’s done it all and has all the qualities…

Odegaard was poor again today. The guy had literally 2 good games, one against Spurs and one against Leeds and he’s been cemented in our midfield. Ceballos, although he didn’t play today, is another one, who has played far more than he deserves to, and both those players likely won’t be here next season. I’m just struggling to see which are the players we want to build a team around?

But for Mikel the real problem never is having no plan B, doing late subs, or poor tactics or playing the wrong players. It’s always VAR or “small margins” or something else. Today we were lucky when Chelsea hit the post, but I don’t hear complaints? What did we actually create apart from the goal, which was gifted to us? Why didn’t we bring on an in-form Pepe or Martinelli to stretch them on the counter?

When Aubameyang was subbed, his reaction was telling. I feel sorry for him, because It’s difficult to score a goal, when the team drops so deep our striker sits on the same line as Elneny in the middle of our own half. I highly doubt the players are too happy and on board with the instructions they are given.

Arteta has called out for resources and openly said this is as far as he can take this squad. It’s either he’s massively backed, or he packs his bags by the end of the year. A hundred million is the least we need to spend and I don’t think it’ll be enough honestly. Are KSE willing to back a man that has the worst league finish in more than 20 years and will produce a similar point tally this time? It’s also how they are spent. Missing out on European football sucks, but I’d rather have players who want to play for Arsenal, than have players come here only because we offered them extreme wages. We’ve been there with Ozil, and we did exactly the same with Auba and Willian.

It’s nice to beat Chelsea, not least because of all the stick their fans have been giving us, but let’s not be short-sighted again and focus on the real issue. We need massive changes all over the place on and off the pitch. Luckily the season will be over soon and we’ll see what happens. Richard Garlick is joining, not sure what part of the operations he’ll take over, but Edu and Arteta are on thin ice. The window will be interesting, because the Kroenkes are also in the spotlight. Maybe we’ll do something for a change?


Tags Arteta Chelsea v Arsenal


  1. I’ll take a double over Chelsea with any position on the table any day. I’ve been down after our performance against Villarreal but beating Chelsea is something to cherish even with our ‘worst’ team in many years. Chelsea fans would be glad to do same.

  2. For all of the Odegaard criticism, which is spot on btw, this ain’t even up to a quarter of Odegaard does or can do.
    I’d like to have him for another season, when the whole team ain’t struggling or low on confidence.

  3. Find it impossible to go along with the assertion that Gabriel did well.From the match I watched , both he and particularly Mari, struggled against the pace of the Chelsea players.Our lack of pace in the back three is the reason why they are obliged to defend deep and has a knock on effect throughout the team.Until we bring in quick defenders and play off a higher line, we will never dominate games like Chelsea did yesterday.We need more athleticism in the team.

    1. Intelligent and insightful article. Well done ! Arteta started very well winning 2 trophies but since then the development of the team has gone backwards. I think it’s clear rhe team as a whole are not on board with his philosophy and clearly he favours certain players which does not help squad harmony. Why can’t Martinelli get any game time? even Leno is fed up and wants to leave. Martinez was the better gk and should have been made no 1. The guy loved the club. Even when we were nearly rans under Wenger we played exciting football with flair. Nowadays Arsenal are boring with no style or grace. It’s time for change from top to bottom. A change of ownership is needed to reawaken this sleeping giant of a club and bring back some modicum of positivity to the worldwide fanbase. Arsenal football club deserves much better than this !

        1. Yes i know that hindsight is a great thing but imo Martinez is a better GK than Partey is a midfielder. I thought Martinez was the best Arsenal GK since Seaman.

          1. Martinez was with us for 10 years and had three different managers and lots of coaches, but nobody believed in him. When called upon he grabbed his chance, the truth is always obvious in hindsight

    2. have you realized this slow defense has leaked fewer goals than that of unai and wenger. if the attacks does it job then defenders would worry less about being exposed

      1. If know how football works you will see that the whole team including forwards spend a lot of time in the defense area than attacking.
        Also note that Arteta’s instructions of playing the ball at the back mean that the ball spends more time with defenders than with forwards
        Did you also spot how easily Chelsea worked and pass their way around the 11man defense to create good chances?

        1. Chelsea created good chances you say but how many shots on target did they have on the night. We just post nonsense without any form of truth to it.
          Gabriel made some errors but was good on the night and was very dominant, so also Mari and Holding

          1. I like the fact that you know you post nonsense on the internet.
            Let me challenge your fickle mind, have you ever seen a shot from 6yard go off target? 2. Did Havertz 1v1 hit target? Well since it was off, i guess that wasn’t a good chance then. Yuck

  4. I think everyone is happy about the win. I know I,am.

    However, lets not pretend we didnt get dominated. We snatched and grabbed a win but do you think we would do it again next season? Luck won’t be on our side forever.

    I might get told off for this but yesterday it did look like a strong top 4 side getting nicked a win away by resilient, parking-the-bus, midtable team. The gulf of class was palpable.

    It looked like Arsenal vs Burnley when we dominated but still ended up losing. In this match we were the Burnley.

    1. Apt-solutely. The mentality, demeanour, lack of fight, backing off of oppositions, extreme lack of confidence screams a standard mid table.
      Same as the game against low teams, Arsenal doesn’t exert dominance as the superior team even when playing well. It’s like one average team having a better game than the other. WBA scored a goal at the weekend and there was problems. The goal itself is an embarrassment. 3 arsenal shirts were backing off a single player.
      As long as the manager, remains, the mentality is likely not to change and results will remain the same even if £200m is spent. For reference, look at Chelsea and Lampard. The man has to go for a genuine clean slate for Arsenal

    2. DaJuhi, your right we nicked it. 10 defenders at most of the time BORING VERY BORING

  5. Of course a win against the ‘Oligarchs of Stamford Bridge’ is always good, but it was nihilistic football. This local derby win has to be looked at deeply as it was lucky. There is no way we will reach fourth place next season playing like that. Just a fact. We are still looking for a style of play that suits us….after nearly two seasons. Something is broken that needs mending.
    On the positive note ESR is a gem as are Bukayo Saka and KT, but if our football stays so poor I fear KT will have had enough. I still believe we are mismanaged from Owner to Manager. Nihilistic football is not how football is meant to be played. The most boring wimpish season ever.

  6. Arsenal switched place with Chelsea yesterday, we parked the bus from the first minute and was dominated all trough, this is unacceptable although we won. We actually went to the bridge and played like a mid table team that we are. I’m happy with the win but sad with the performance, it’s totally anti football as we used to say but the table has turned.

    1. At a point in the game, the commentator said our performance is what you would expect from Shefield United coming to the Bridge. I was so irritated at times.

      I think Arteta has some very tough calls to make if he remains manager. We can’t do the pressing game with Auba upfront. Just look at Liverpool, they were masters of pressing when the 3 frontmen had the energy and tenacity to persist with pressing opposition defence. This season is different for them maybe cause of aging, no fans motivation to keep pressing or both reasons.

      I watched arsenal Wesbrom and Martinelli keeps forcing the keeper and defender to clear the ball without really having the time to pick a pass. Immediately he was subbed, Wesbrom defence was settled again with their defence and keeper taking enough time to think and pick the right pass.

      We need the kind of energy and commitment that young players bring to play the football us fans love. But we have very slow defenders (Holding, Mari, Gabriel, Luis) and aging attackers who were not developed to press and can’t learn it now.

      I love my Arsenal and wish us the best next season. It’s a BIG SUMMER THIS

    2. Awhy Did you see Auba’s face when MA brought him off would not surprise me if Auba left at the end of the season NO European football next season

  7. just what we needed after a victory, a negative article . It getting annoying now, i bet some of you have arteta picture on your punching bag and on your dart board. Arteta is staying . I dont know maybe you guys thinks he reads JA (or does he) coming here to slander him aint helping anybody.

  8. Nice article Konstantin!

    I resonate with your thoughts for it reminds us of the painful weaknesses in and around our dear team.

    I do not seek to defend Arteta from the mistakes he has clearly made throughout the season, nevertheless, I will continue to iterate that no coach can work with a group of players that totally lack the basics of the game. Sublime ball control is a core basics required of any great/professional footballer, and honestly, majority of our players lack this basic requirement. Close ball control in tight spaces is required as a requisite for accurate passing, which allows a team to dominate and control the tempo and direction of a football game, which our players deeply lack. Except given a full preseason and financial backing by the club, it will be difficult to begin to train these players all over again in the basic art of football, which they terribly lack. Consequently, it is a pity that Arteta (or any other coach) will need to school these players all over again in such basic requirements. In this regard, he will need a full preseason to train and improve them to the maximum they can attain.

    Summarily, until a large core of these players are replaced, I fear that any coach (even Guardiola) will definitely struggle with this team. And such a change typically rests at the feet of the board, which sadly leaves us all in limbo.

    Nevertheless, please do remain positive and grateful for the gift of life! Wishing us all a wonderful day! Do stay safe!


  9. A new season usually comes with a new hope and confidence, if the squad is injected with some new players and new tactical/ training approaches. If David Moyes and West Ham can do it, Arteta and Arsenal should be able to do so

    If Arteta fails again, I hope Arsenal are ready to spend a lot of money to replace him in the middle of next season. Currently the replacement cost is just too high and I hope the fans understand our financial situation

  10. Always nice to beat them, especially when they have a much better squad than us. Next season Chelsea will challenge for the title…

  11. Okay, the performance was underwhelming but you know what. It shows that if the arsenal team and manager are all singing from the same sheet, we can actually get something right for once.

    Arsenal have been betwixt and between in everything they do. Not had a credible defensive plan, not had any sort of single minded, worthy attack option. Been all over the place when passing (well, mainly sideways and backwards)…….. I think you know where I’m going with this!

    Last night we we’re determined not to get beat. Okay, the goal was fortuitous to say the least but, the team protected the meagre goal like their lives and careers depended on. Last night wasn’t the mish mash of non descript football that we’ve been accustomed too for the longest time now, last night was a single minded team performance, a boring but rigid display of defending at all costs as a collective. Now I don’t want us to become the new Bolton Wanderers but, I was pleased that we had at least got one aspect of a game of football correct, that being an exercise in collective defending. It’s obvious we can do it when we want and it shouldn’t matter if you’re the star striker or or the graceful, silky midfielder. When asked to do something different and put in a shift, we can. Okay, last night’s game was really a ‘nothing’ game for us, and even if we win them, we’re still hoping for other outcomes and results from those around us. At best we showed Leicester et al how to nullify Chelsea. Maybe we should use the remaining ‘nothing’ games to to formulate a ruthless all out attack on a worthy Palace side. Have the entire arsenal team in unison attacking palace from the back to the front. Have them constantly on the back foot with the end result is us scoring freely. The score wouldn’t matter if it went against us as long as it demonstrates that we could attack ruthlessly and score at will. No fancy, schmancy build up. In any two minute period of the game the expectation should be that we’re in their box causing havoc and scoring. Again, this out and out attack should come right through the arsenal team. Hopefully what it would achieve (other than a 12 all draw), is that we can, just like the collective defensive display against Chelsea, play single mindedly, with one purpose in mind and get it right. Again, the players would be asked to come out of their respective comfort zones and do something different. If we find we’ve got the art of defence sussed and we can also provide a relentless attack. It shouldn’t be hard to combine the two and use the Brighton game to put it into practice.

    As stated, I wasn’t enamoured with a glorious, all round display of football at Chelsea, but I was pleased that, even if it was out of pure fear, we got the collective, defensive aspect of the game right. Yes, It could do with some polishing but the basis is there! If we can achieve the same thing in other areas of the game and combine them, we could at last have a methodology and a basis for success.

    If last night’s performance was down to Arteta’s direction and design. Then he should be this ruthless all the time. Don’t let an 11 man team do what they want, if they want and pull in eight different directions in any one game. Dictate to them what they should do. Enough of this trial and error football, let’s see something decisive like last night and use that as the foundation to build upon.

  12. Well played lads, and well done Mikel.

    Tactics for this one, spot on.

    There were 2 or 3, comments on here last night post game that called it right, but as expected most were of the usual Arteta out blood lust – some totally illogical.

    Very unfortunately, we are a weaker all ’round outfit than Chelsea right now.

    So why on earth would you go to the bridge with a side stuffed full of attack minded players, deploy an attacking formation, go toe to toe with them leaving gaps and space all over the place – and get beat 4 – 0 ?

    Naivety in the extreme !

    No, prior to the game we obviously worked on our defensive shape (one in possession, one out of possession), and our pressing all over the park particularity when Chelsea played out from the back. (this confirmed by ESR in his post match interview).

    The game plan on the night worked perfectly.

    Let’s look at what we limited them to.

    1) Havertz over the bar – Partey under hit pass, Mari error.

    2) Leno forced into full left save – Saka “expecting” the ball to run out for a goal kick.

    3) Shot Pulisic (?) – blocked by Holding due to good defensive numbers in the box.

    4) Leno tipped looping header on to the bar, Giroud hits the bar – have you never been to matches where guess what …. the opposition may just hit the woodwork ?

    So unless I’ve left out anything major, 4 “telling” actions against us over 96 + minutes, away at a side who have reached this years CL final.

    FOUR – how many of us would have predicted that prior to kick off – four goals against maybe !

    We protected Leno superbly.

    We cut our cloth accordingly last night, and it worked a treat.

    A good win at the bridge – AT THIS MOMENT IN TIME.

    1. Good sensible analysis of the game….makes a change from some of the rhetoric posted on here.

    2. Spot on AJ! We needed 10 years to get a win in the league at the bridge. Last time was probably the 5-3 win in 2011, with three goals from van Persie.

  13. Some people will say Artetas game plan worked perfectly last night and we can argue that all night and get nowhere. We won! But boy were we lucky and Chelsea, even with all their young players are way aheas of us now they have a manager that plays modern attacking football.

    1. We’re lucky! If Havertz is like Cavani, the final score will be 3 nil or more. Don’t forget about the 2 that hit the post. We will get a hammering.

    1. Please tell us how to win against Chelsea at the bridge with a much weaker squad. Last time we won in the league at the bridge was in 2011.

  14. Nice read. Started out really negative outlook, took the turn for a genuine holistic view.
    Spot on of reward of consistent bad performers and abrupt/systemic ousting of decent performances.
    Also not having any Plan B (pep like) but mostly getting it wrong from KO with bad tactics or odd player selections.
    Eg, he had 3 RBs on the bench then put Saka at RWB. Imagine a speedy and direct Saka further up the pitch with ESR, Subs won’t have looked so useless. He set the team up to defend and didn’t give them a out. How do you then create chances?
    But then, he can do no wrong… Let’s keep him and potentially waste next season as well

  15. To win the FA Cup last year, this was how we played. The team is not balance enough to attack and defend properly throughout 90mins+.

    Is it player additions we need?
    Is it Manager change we need?
    Is it “just” better training and tactical execution we need?
    Do we need all the above? Maybe!

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