Why Arsenal struggle at Home? – Chelsea’s art of Dominating Space

Sanchez, Wilshere and Ox to the rescue? By Galen

Everyone is blaming the transfer window for Arsenal’s slow start to the season. Yes the window was very disappointing, and what annoys me the most was the fact that we waited for the transfer window to close before announcing Welbeck’s injury. You can’t tell me that the club didn’t know he would be out till December. I can see the script already in January. You will hear Wenger say something like “We have Danny Welbeck back and he is like a new signing”..

Our miserable home form or our slow start has got nothing to do with the transfer window. This trend all started on the 26th of April against Chelsea.

Date Teams Result Possession
26th April 2015. Arsenal vs Chelsea Draw 0 – 0 57% – 43%
11th may 2015 Arsenal vs Swansea Loss 0 – 1 67.9%- 32.1%
20th May 2015 Arsenal vs Sunderland Draw 0 – 0 75.1% – 24.9%
24th may 2015 Arsenal vs West Brom Win 4 – 1 63.7% – 36.3%
9th August 2015 Arsenal vs West Ham loss 0 – 2 61.8% – 38.2%
24th August 2015 Arsenal vs Liverpool Draw 0 – 0 65.7% – 34.3%

There is an African proverb, (I think from Nigeria) which says that: “Since Hunters have learned to shoot without missing, birds have learned to fly without perching.” Teams have have learned to fly without perching at the Emirates Stadium. Has Chelsea shown to every team how to play at the Emirates? Since then every team that has come to the Emirates have had no intention of dominating possession. They have all taken notice of what Mourinho did. What they have tried to do is “Dominate Space”. Its all about making the pitch as narrow as possible and making sure that players like Ozil, Cazorla and Ramsey have no space to play those dangerous balls. These teams above have had an average of 34.8% possession at the Emirates while at the same time having only about 4 shots a game. But they have all succeeded in getting good results at the Emirates.

Swansea, for example, came to the Emirates and their players were well drilled. They were always in position and didn’t allow themselves to be dragged out of position. People say we are not passing the ball quick enough but its more about the fact that the opposition is well drilled and the players are always in the right place – and guys like Ozil and Cazorla have their influence on the game limited.

Possession is only important if there is a purpose to that possession. Liverpool had 34% ball possession at the Emirates this last month. Yet they had the best chances in the game. Teams are all coming to the Emirates to dominate space.

I watched the West Brom game again yesterday. Why were we so good against West Brom? West Brom did what the other teams have done at the Emirates. The difference was Wilshere. Arsene says “Sometimes his is a game that provokes maybe more challenges than Gilberto Silva who just sat there deep and played, or Mesut Ozil who plays less dribbling,” said Wenger. “Jack is a born football brain. He’s a creative brain. He has no handbrake. But that tells him to provoke in the final third. That’s where he creates all his chances.

Jack, Sanchez and the Ox have got something that our other midfielder’s don’t have. They have pure skills, a sharp turn and change of pace that can provoke any defence. There are certain games that need more of dribblers and gamblers. There are other games that need more intelligence and organised play, You will need players like Ozil in this games.

We need more gamblers in our home games. We need more dribblers in our home games. We need more players that will want to gamble with the opposition. Jack is back in full training and I think Jack, Ox and Sanchez will be a good solution for our home games,be it from the bench or on the pitch. At the moment Sanchez is the only one in the team that creates danger. We need more of that if we want to start with a bang.

How do you think we can beat these teams and their dominating space philosophy?
Galen Sona.

Tags Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain Sanchez Wilshere


  1. We’re poor at home because we can’t score at home. We can’t score because our players look scared to attack because they don’t want to be caught on the counter. Well if that’s your approach, why play Coquelin? Coquelin is there to stop counterattacks. There’s no need to be so scared of conceding them. Attack more. That’s the answer. There’s too much holding on to the ball, not willing to play the risky pass that may lead to a chance. But also Goroud has been in poor form and we don’t have any replacement.

    My solution? Play 4-4-2. Coquelin and Cazorla in the centre of midfield. Alexis and Ox out wide, Walcott and Giroud up front. This will mean Giroud is not so isolated and we have someone to hold the ball up, and we’ll also have someone to make runs in behind – Walcott. Ideally we’d want an all-in-one striker but we can’t change that at the moment so we have to do the best with what we have…

    Will losing a midfielder (Özil in this example) cost us possession? Perhaps. But this would be for home games only. Teams will sit back and defend against us at the Emirates, so I’d expect we’d still have the majority of possession. We’d still be vulnerable to counterattacks, but we’d still have Coquelin too.

    1. 4-4-2 is a good shout in games when we struggle to break teams down. However, when was the last time Wenger ever change formation during a game? If he insists of sticking to 4-2-3-1, he needs to recognise in games when we too narrow and tell wide players to hug the touchline.
      Instead, Wenger remains intent on letting fullbacks provide the width – this is what leaves us short at the back and teams know this.

      This leads to us getting caught out at home.

  2. buy a good striker
    that’s the one and only solution.

    atleast one who can convert a third of the 54 chances created this season.

    1. Theo may not be a WC ST but he know how to change position creating gaps to other players, with his pace he always drives the team forward with a real intensity. I have even noticed that Sanchez is more conformable playing with Walcot than he used to do with the so called “Mr. Hold up play” , with Theo they interchanges positions and he can have room to shoot more often. Looking the game against Newcastle you can easily see how much it is true.

      Ok we haven’t signed a WC ST as many of us anticipated, and Welbeck is injured which i rates him more than the “Martial” signed to United, Now Wenger has no choice than Walcot and Giroud at the moment. We have seen enough of the hold up play week in week out what we want now is to see more game time to Theo up front before fans conclude that he is no better than Giroud. The lady has not even given a run of five games in a-Low in that position but still in those few chances he proves to be a weapons to defenders. Players can only be good when plays regularly let him be given an opportunity to gain his confident before the Muppet and idiots fans made their conclusion.

  3. I think the article is on point
    Barcelona’s tiki taka. Used to work because they had messi and iniesta to provoke chaos
    Great analysis galen

  4. Many teams coming to emirates stadium have started to park the bus nowadays which is really hard for arsenal to score especially with the strikers we have. But what can we do? only wenger can solve this problem.

    1. True it’s Wenger’s job to find the solution it’s clear all the teams come to The Emirates to play the counter so we need width and pace not this slow possession based game!

  5. And this my friends, is the difference between Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: goals. If we’re going to improve our poor goalscoring of late, we must play our 3 players most likely to score: Walcott, Giroud and Sanchez. The manager will then need to play Coquelin and 2 from Ozil, Cazorla, Ramsey and Wilshere. That’s our most effective lineup for now.

  6. Next Justarsenal articles
    1.Don’t worry Arsenal fans we have got Walcott.
    2.Walcott has proved his doubters wrong, he will save our season.
    3.Walcott saved England.

  7. The Home fans suck (unlike the away fans who are great). If we don’t score the first 20 minutes they go quiet or turn against the team. That is part of the problem.

  8. Most opponents park the bus at the Emirates. In away games, the opponent is more aggressive and it results in a more open game. We are a one trick pony attacking, 100 passes in the middle of the pitch before losing possession.

  9. Good analysis, Mourinho has been doing this for eons though. It was this exact tactic that was used against Barcelona when he coached Inter Milan. Milan averaged about 18% possession but still outscored Barcelona.

    A lot of people like to call it parking the bus but there is a very big difference in defending as a consequence of being the inferior team dominating and another being comfortable without the ball for a purpose. If people think Chelsea just settle for a point all the time they should check and see how many matches Chelsea and the previous Milan team win with far less chances and possession than the opposition

  10. I say it’s same with Chelsea , opposition teams know how to annoy Chelsea now . You play same style as them (Chelsea ) you can stop them from scoring .I think this is the reason for Chelsea’s poor start for this season.

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