By Tony Attwood
Luckily for me, living a fair distance from London, I am able to spend a bit of time with my family this Christmas, although I do appreciate many people cannot, and I really do feel for them. I’d find it a huge strain if that happened to me.
But because I shall be seeing them I’m not going to be able to keep the regular blogging going for the Christmas and Boxing Day.
But of course we do play Chelsea on Boxing Day, so writing a couple of days before the game (a dangerous thing to do of course) what are we to make of the possibilities of this game?
The last time we won a League match was on 1 November. Since then it has been seven games, five of which are defeats and two of which have been draws. We have scored three goals in that spell, and conceded 11. If it had happened under Mr Wenger there would have been mass riots. But now there is just the usual back-biting, and blaming going on.
It was 25 March 2018 when the rabidly anti-Arsenal (and employer of Stewart Robson, just to keep the bile up) ESPN ran the headline “Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal woe: Stats show it’s the worst ever”. Of course they didn’t show anything like that, but it is worth looking at the run they were commenting upon and claiming to be the worst…
|30 Jan 2018||Swansea City v Arsenal||L||3-1||Premier League|
|3 Feb 2018||Arsenal v Everton||W||5-1||Premier League|
|10 Feb 2018||Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal||L||1-0||Premier League|
|15 Feb 2018||Östersunds FK v Arsenal||W||0-3||Europa League|
|22 Feb 2018||Arsenal v Östersunds FK||L||1-2||Europa League|
|25 Feb 2018||Arsenal v Manchester City||L||0-3||League Cup|
|1 Mar 2018||Arsenal v Manchester City||L||0-3||Premier League|
|4 Mar 2018||Brighton and Hove Albion v Arsenal||L||2-1||Premier League|
Two wins in that sequence with a combined scored 8-1 makes that period look like paradise, but of course it heralded what ESPN and the rest wanted – the end of the Wenger era, and then the downward spiral of Arsenal. And that’s what they got. Six defeats and two wins, and the die was cast.
Although perhaps for completeness we ought to report what happened after 4 March
|8 Mar 2018||AC Milan v Arsenal||W||0-2||Europa League|
|11 Mar 2018||Arsenal v Watford||W||3-0||Premier League|
|15 Mar 2018||Arsenal v AC Milan||W||3-1||Europa League|
|1 Apr 2018||Arsenal v Stoke City||W||3-0||Premier League|
|5 Apr 2018||Arsenal v CSKA Moscow||W||4-1||Europa League|
|8 Apr 2018||Arsenal v Southampton||W||3-2||Premier League|
|12 Apr 2018||CSKA Moscow v Arsenal||D||2-2||Europa League|
Can we have a turn around like that now? It would certainly be welcome. I wonder if the Board regretted what they had done.
Moving on, Chelsea have had a slight wobble of late…
|2 Dec 2020||Sevilla v Chelsea||W||0-4||Champions League|
|5 Dec 2020||Chelsea v Leeds United||W||3-1||Premier League|
|8 Dec 2020||Chelsea v FC Krasnodar||D||1-1||Champions League|
|12 Dec 2020||Everton v Chelsea||L||1-0||Premier League|
|15 Dec 2020||Wolverhampton Wanderers v Chelsea||L||2-1||Premier League|
|21 Dec 2020||Chelsea v West Ham United||W||3-0||Premier League|
but that of course is nothing like our problems.
Worse for us, Chelsea have a decent away record, while our home record is poor.
So all we can do is get the tactics right. Here are the totals for this season…
|Club||Tackles||Fouls||Tackles per foul||Yellow cards||Fouls per yellow||Penalties for||Penalties against||Lge pos|
Now we know Chelsea will tackle and tackle, as the figures above for this season show, and the referee is likely to call them out for fouls. They will get away with more tackles without a foul being called than we get, and they will be able to commit far more fouls before getting a yellow card. They have also managed to get double the number of penalties that we get – although of course neither team are in the Leicester league of penalty awards.
The statistics of the teams at the top of the league are so far away from ours that I can’t imagine that one bit of tactical change-around will work – it needs some complete re-thinking in our tactics – although Chelsea’s achievement of 10.5 fouls per tackle is second only to Liverpool and worth attempting to emulate. That achievement is what teams need if they want to challenge at the top of the league. Rotational tackling is a good place to start.
The one grain of comfort we can take is that we haven’t done that badly against Chelsea in the last dozen games against them.
|27 May 2017||Arsenal v Chelsea||W||2-1||FA Cup|
|6 Aug 2017||Arsenal v Chelsea||W||1-1||Community Shield|
|17 Sep 2017||Chelsea v Arsenal||D||0-0||Premier League|
|3 Jan 2018||Arsenal v Chelsea||D||2-2||Premier League|
|10 Jan 2018||Chelsea v Arsenal||D||0-0||League Cup|
|24 Jan 2018||Arsenal v Chelsea||W||2-1||League Cup|
|18 Aug 2018||Chelsea v Arsenal||L||3-2||Premier League|
|19 Jan 2019||Arsenal v Chelsea||W||2-0||Premier League|
|29 May 2019||Chelsea v Arsenal||L||4-1||Europa League|
|29 Dec 2019||Arsenal v Chelsea||L||1-2||Premier League|
|21 Jan 2020||Chelsea v Arsenal||D||2-2||Premier League|
|1 Aug 2020||Arsenal v Chelsea||W||2-1||FA Cup|
Five wins, four draw, three defeats. Not a complete walkover, but better than our average returns of late.
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