Patience, patience, patience! Tactics will take time to implement under new bosses

Chelsea players celebrate a goal

Same old, same old? Or were there perhaps more positives to take from the game for Unai Emery and his Arsenal team than talked about? Going down 2-0 inside the opening 20 minutes, at one of the league’s most scariest grounds to visit, was arguably the best thing that could happen to the Gunners.

We saw that it will take time for Emery to banish the mood left behind by Arsene Wenger, but last Saturday’s 3-2 defeat at the Bridge showed that the Spanish tactician really and truly knows how to encourage his players, forcing some nervy moments from Chelsea, resulting in an emphatic 2-2 comeback before half-time.

It wasn’t to be for Arsenal as Marcos Alonso popped up in the opposition box, which has become familiar territory, slotting the ball home through the legs of Petr Cech.

That left Emery still searching for his first point as Gunners boss, while Maurizio Sarri has marched on with two wins from two.



Full Report

The derby was an action-packed affair with both teams showing an eagerness to attack from the get-go.

David Luiz fizzed an ambitious strike over the target from 35 yards out in the third minute after space opened up for him in the middle of the park, before Pedro cut in from the right moments later and curled a left-footed shot over from 22 yards out.

Mesut Ozil threatened for Arsenal on eight minutes when he volleyed across the goal from a tight angle on the left after meeting Nacho Monreal's cutback, but Chelsea broke the deadlock at the other end soon afterwards.

Alonso was released into space down the left flank and he squared the ball for Pedro to slot past Cech from 13 yards out.

The hosts went close again on 13 minutes when Ross Barkley curled a left-footed shot narrowly over the bar from 20 yards out after being teed up by N'Golo Kante on the left.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang forced Kepa into a low save with an angled drive four minutes later after being played in on the right by Hector Bellerin, and the Gabon international wasted a glorious chance to equalise on 19 minutes when he lifted the Spaniard's cutback over from just seven yards out.

The west Londoners made them pay immediately as Morata latched onto Cesar Azpilicueta's pass and held off Shkodran Mustafi before tucking past Cech with his left foot from 14 yards out.

The Gunners spurned another golden opportunity on 32 minutes in an almost carbon copy of Aubameyang's miss. Alex Iwobi did well to deliver a low cross from the left that Henrikh Mkhitaryan lifted over the goal from eight yards out.

However, the Armenian made amends five minutes later when he pulled one back with a crisp left-footed shot that beat Kepa at the left post after Iwobi's cross deflected into his path.

Cech was called into action a minute later as he pushed Morata's firm strike from 20 yards out over the bar, and it proved crucial as the visitors restored parity on 41 minutes.

It was another cutback that did the damage with Mkhitaryan picking out Iwobi to fire into the roof of the net from eight yards out.

The north Londoners had their tails up and caused more problems for their neighbours in the final few minutes of the half. After Matteo Guendouzi tested Kepa with a low strike from outside the box on 43 minutes, Aubameyang was wayward again moments later when he side-footed wide of the near post from close range after being picked out by Iwobi.

The Nigerian himself was guilty of wastefulness in added time as he cleared the goal from 12 yards out after getting on the end of Mkhitaryan's cutback from the right.

The chances continued to come in the second half, with Pedro firing over the target from 21 yards out on 48 minutes following good work by Barkley in midfield, before the former Everton midfielder broke into the area on the right and produced a fine save out of Cech with a drilled effort nine minutes later.

Unai Emery and Maurizio Sarri


The Czech gloveman was being kept busy as he was required to save Jorginho's deflected shot on 64 minutes, before punching away Luiz's free-kick from 25 yards out low to his right nine minutes later.

Kante should perhaps have done better when he steered a free header over the bar from Pedro's cross on the left 12 minutes from time, but it didn't matter in the end as Alonso beat Cech from close range three minutes later after connecting with Eden Hazard's low cross from the left.

It could have been worse for Arsenal had Cech not denied Hazard from a tight angle on the left in the 86th minute, before preventing Olivier Giroud from scoring against his former employers moments later from Alonso's cutback on the left.

Substitute Aaron Ramsey saw his volley from 19 yards out land on the roof of the net in stoppage time after Mkhitaryan headed the ball down into his path, while Giroud was kept out by Cech again after combining with Hazard from a counter-attack.
Report via TeamTalk media

The signs are there for Sarri

Even though Chelsea were not at their brilliant best, you could see what new boss, Sarri, is implementing at the club. The Blues were dominant for large parts of the game, and one must take into consideration that the champions of yesteryear were without Eden Hazard from the start, who made an instant impact when he came on.

What Sarri has definitely been working on is the timing of when to play the long ball over the top. It showed when Jorginho anchored the midfield in a deep role and often picked his head up to spot the run of Barkley, Pedro and Morata.

The style of play, the way they dominate possession and the swagger in which they approach each game could bring out the best in Morata, who publicly stated that Sarri’s brand of football will certainly work wonders for him.

"The most important thing is the way we play. Last season it was direct balls and for me to protect the ball in the air is not my best quality. Now I can attack the space, I can play one touch and go in the area for the crosses. It's better for me," said Chelsea’s new number 29.

Chelsea player ratings

Marcos Alonso celebrate a goal
Kepa Arrizabalaga (3/10) – The young goalkeeper could have been humiliated in his first home game had it not been for some wasteful finishing from Arsenal. Still, the shots that were on target could have been dealt with better, while his handling wasn’t quite up to £70m standard.

Cesar Azpilicueta (6/10) – Mr. Consistent for Chelsea. Although Azpilicueta wasn’t really exposed down that right flank, Chelsea’s captain on the day has definitely seen better days. Going forward, he was great, and out of all the Blues’ defenders, it seems Azpilicueta will be first to adjust to a new back four formation in the upcoming season.

Antonio Rudiger (6/10) – The German centre-back was rarely tested in the game, and what came his way, he dealt with quite comfortable at times. There were a few nervy moments, but only a few. Rudiger gets a six out of 10 here.

David Luiz (6/10) – Just like his centre-back partner, David Luiz was comfortable for most of the match. He played his way out of trouble a few times and did well to keep Arsenal’s Aubameyang quiet.

Marcos Alonso (8/10) – Defensively, Marcos Alonso is not one of the best around. Going forward, however, he is possibly unmatched. He isn’t the traditional “hug the touchline and whip it into the box” type of fullback, but prefers to roam inside the box and chip in with a goal or two. Its not the first time Alonso has rolled the ball underneath the legs of Cech, but this time, it did prove to be decisive as the Spaniard gifted his team the victory.

Jorginho (7/10) – The Brazilian-born Italian showed glimpses of what he was brought in the team to do. He knows what his role is in the team, and although he doesn’t quite break up the play like his compatriot, Kante, Jorginho starts the attack from deep and had a decent home debut in the Premier League.

N’Golo Kante (8/10) – Asked to play a different role by Sarri, many expected Kante to look shaky and uncomfortable in his unnatural position. He may have snuck under the radar in the match, but I thought he was one of the Blues’ best performers. Ask yourself why Ozil was quiet in the game.

Ross Barkley (5/10) – Didn’t have quite the impact he would’ve wanted to make in the match, especially with the Englishman expected to make way when every player is fit. Opportunity simply not taken for Barkley. That showed in the 60th minute as Sarri decided to withdraw him in place of Mateo Kovacic.

Pedro (7/10) – Caused Arsenal plenty of problems down the right flank. Pedro opened proceedings and it seems that he will take his place on the right wing for the season, as he did in the 2016/17 campaign where the Blues lifted their fifth Premier League trophy.

Alvaro Morata (7/10) – Scored the goal that made Chelsea comfortable in the first half, which proved decisive in the end. Although he didn’t really trouble the Gunners backline after the goal, strikers can afford to go missing after helping their team out.

Willian (5/10) – With Pedro scoring in back-to-back games and Eden Hazard on his way to full fitness, the signs are not looking good for Willian. He didn’t have a Willian-like performance and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is dropped in the next game.

Substitutes

Mateo Kovacic (5/10) – Perfect start to his Chelsea career, claiming a derby win on his debut. Kovacic didn’t have enough time to make a huge impact but carried the ball well and showed his quality in possession.

Eden Hazard (6/10) – Came on to produce the finishing touch. Sarri has indicated that Hazard is near the fitness level he requires, and the Belgian wizard showed why fans anticipate his return to the lineup, setting up Alonso for the game’s final goal.

Olivier Giroud (3/10) – Although his positioning was decent, the finishing for Giroud was not so useful. You could even argue that he had better chances to score than Morata did. He could’ve and should’ve buried his former employers at his new home.

No need to push panic buttons at Arsenal

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Two games, two defeats, five goals conceded. Of course, that isn’t the way Emery had wanted his tenure to start at Arsenal. The Gunners lost their first two league games of the season for the first time since 1992.

Despite all that, there has been plenty of positives to take in the game for the side who finished sixth last season under Wenger. Against City, you could see the tactics being implemented by Emery, pressing from the front. Then against Chelsea, they created loads of chances, looked more comfortable playing out from the back, and scored one of the most Emery-like goals to equalize 2-2. The ball went from Cech straight to the opposite goal, without Chelsea even having a touch of it, which highlights what Emery is trying to do – which I think he will master to perfection eventually.

Asked about how he felt after the game, Emery replied: "Calm. I think we need to give that calm to the players and continue working.

"I know we need to improve things. I know we need to push the players to work. ... But today the team competed well, had chances in the match," the Spaniard continued.

"First, I am calm when I look at my team creating chances. Goal, no goal, we need to continue working.

"Today, with Auba, I know he can play. Maybe there's one moment where he misses three good chances, but another where they'll score three chances that are less clear. I am calm with that.

"I want better balance between the attacking and defensive moments. We conceded a lot of chances to Chelsea and, second half, we needed to keep control of the match better with the ball and the positioning.

"We lost a bit of the positioning on the pitch in the second half and were working very deep," Emery concluded.

There’s no doubt that Chelsea were the better team in the second half but defeat still feels a bit harsh for an Arsenal result. After coming from two goals down, a draw would have done so much to build momentum and belief.

Arsenal player ratings

Mesut Ozil

Petr Cech (7/10) – One of the few Arsenal players who could leave Stamford Bridge with their head held high. Kept the scoreline respectable at the end for his team and made some superb saves throughout. One of the Gunners’ best performers.

Hector Bellerin (3/10) – How he still starts over Stephan Lichtsteiner is the only thing I question Emery for. Bellerin was out of position for the first goal and let Hazard breeze past him in the latter stages for his side to concede the final goal of the game. Offensively, he didn’t offer much either.

Shkodran Mustafi (5/10) – Was caught flat-footed for Morata’s goal and left open spaces for Chelsea to create chances, most notably when Kante’s header went wide of the upright. Not much positives for Mustafi to take home, but he has the capabilities to bounce back.

Sokratis Papastathopoulos (6/10) – I thought he was quite decent. Played out from the back comfortably, made some good tackles and won most of his aerial duels. There is still room for improvement, but Sokratis was one of the Gunners’ best defenders.

Nacho Monreal (6/10) – You have to feel for Monreal at times like these. He rarely put a foot wrong and looked sharp in attack. His crosses were pinpoint and did well defending one-on-one situations. Monreal was also key in implementing Emery’s style of playing out from the back.

Granit Xhaka (1/10) – Rated for the sake of it. Instead of silencing his doubters in a big game, Xhaka proved them all right. He brought nothing to the team and was taken off at half-time because of his lacklustre performance.

Matteo Guendouzi (7/10) – What a star. It’s unfortunate that he had to play next to Xhaka for the first 45 minutes, but the young Frenchman showed passion and determination and for me, was one of the Gunners’ most outstanding players – alongside Cech.

Mesut Ozil (4/10) – It was evident that Emery has asked Ozil to do a lot more work off the ball, and I thought he tried for most parts of the game, it’s just a different system that he has to get used to. Of course, Ozil will forever be made a scapegoat, though.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan (6/10) – Mkhitaryan is receiving too much praise when he actually shouldn’t. He missed a massive chance that could’ve changed the game for Arsenal and he fumbled in possession too many times in key areas. He did, however, score and assist, so he gets a six.

Alex Iwobi (6/10) – Made an impact in stages. Iwobi also missed a massive chance, but had a decent performance all round and was awarded with a goal late in the first half. If the experienced players keep letting the club down, the likes of Iwobi will be waiting in the shadows to make their mark.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (1/10) – More like ‘OverTheBarMeyang’. He had a horrid display. Aubameyang is supposed to be Arsenal’s go-to man, but he definitely let his teammates down, not to mention the sitters he missed in front of goal. I still question whether he even played or not.

Substitutes

Lucas Torreira (5/10) – The Gunners had much more shape once Torreira came on. He also freed up Guendouzi to spray the passes across midfield. Judging on his performance, it’s tough not to see him starting next game.

Aaron Ramsey (5/10) – Definitely had more of an impact than Ozil did. Ramsey also came close to scoring but his shot was just over the bar. He didn’t put a foot wrong, but couldn’t do enough to change the outcome for his team.

Alexandre Lacazette (5/10) – It’s crazy how Lacazette doesn’t start from the get-go. Arsenal look so flat without him, and his presence also brings out the best in Aubameyang. Still, not enough to earn a point at Stamford Bridge.

Verdict
It’s still early stages and both teams can take positives from their starts to the season. Both Chelsea and Arsenal finished outside the top four last campaign and with new managers coming in with a fresher approach and new tactics, greatness could eventually come again for the London giants.

With Sarri at Chelsea and Emery at Arsenal, its two managers bringing a philosophy to the club, which their fans have not seen for the past couple of decades, while it has shown in other countries that it can definitely work.

Sarri is already six points to the good after two games, while Emery has a favourable run ahead of him to bounce back and silence his doubters. Don’t be surprised to see both teams in the running for top four this season.

By Jesse Nagel