“Soccer is simple. But it is difficult to play simple.”Johan Cryuff
Before the season started, Chelsea looked set for a disappointing campaign after losing both their best player Eden Hazard and their coach Maurizio Sarri. Chelsea gave the chance for a relatively inexperienced coach Frank Lampard to take charge of the club. For Arsenal, it looked as if this season will be the start of a new shining era for the club. They bought one of the most sought-after wingers in the world, Nicolas Pepe for 72 million and also a side by side reinforced their defence by signing Celtic star left-back Kieran Tierney and ex Chelsea central defender David Luiz. Already having spent a season under Unai Emery, Arsenal fans expected that they will put behind their horrendous memories of what happened last time when they faced Chelsea and concentrate on a new season with new Manager which relatively looked positive for them in their last game against Man United.
However, the results have turned out to be the exact opposite of this prediction. Chelsea sits comfortably in the top 4 at the 4th position in the standings Arsenal are struggling to find anything positive about this season and are stuck at 8th. The point difference between both of the teams stands at 8 which is huge considering Christmas is almost near.
Now let’s look into Chelsea’s and Arsenal’s season and who has a better chance of making into the top 4:
Super Frankie Lampard’s Young Blue Army
After having a mostly great pre-season Chelsea started their season disastrously against Manchester United. Playing at Old Trafford, Lampard knew that his youngsters were in for a tough fight. Chelsea lost the match 4-0 but looking beyond the score line there were several positives for Lampard. Chelsea didn’t play in such a disastrous manner as the score line might suggest. United’s players were clinical in front of goal which was the major reason for their win. Next came Liverpool in the UEFA Super Cup. Chelsea yet again put up a brilliant show against the European champions but came short in the penalties after young striker Tammy Abraham missed his and the team’s final penalty to give the Super Cup to Liverpool.
Chelsea’s disappointment however continued as they managed only a 1-1 draw with Leicester at home where they were completely outplayed by The Foxes and hung on to one point. Chelsea had started the game superbly however couldn’t control their tempo for the whole 90 minutes which resulted in Leicester outplaying them. The next weekend, however, wasn’t all doom and gloom as Chelsea got their first competitive win under Frank Lampard defeating Norwich 2-3 away from home. Disappointment followed next week however as they dropped points under Sheffield United with a 2-2 draw where Kurt Zouma scored a last-minute own goal which helped Sheffield secure one point.
After this, however, it was a bag of mixed fortunes for Chelsea since they won against Wolverhampton Wanderers by 2-5 with Tammy Abraham scoring a hat-trick and Fikayo Tomori scoring an absolute belter from 35 yards. Their next match involved a 1-0 loss to Valencia at home where they put on a very dull performance and they compounded their dull performance with Ross Barkley missing a late penalty. Chelsea’s next opponent was Liverpool at home. Although they lost by a score line of 1-2 they put up a superb fight against the Scousers and N’Golo Kante scored a magical goal to give Chelsea hope in the game.
After this defeat though there was no looking back for the Chelsea boys. They went on a 7-match unbeaten run which included impressive wins over Ajax in Amsterdam and a 1-0 win over Newcastle in Stamford Bridge where Chelsea players displayed their mental strengths by not losing hope after trying again and again to penetrate the Newcastle defence. Getting that 1-0 win over Ajax too showed that Chelsea were no pushovers. They put on a brilliant performance which had nearly no flaws and got a result over last year’s Champions League semi-finalists. Their winning streak was broken by Manchester United with a 1-2 loss at home where Marcus Rashford scored a stunning free-kick to give United the win. Chelsea also played a stunning match against Ajax at home where they went from 1-4 down to equalise the score at 4-4. This again showed the mental strength of the Chelsea boys. Now let’s look at their positives and negatives.
1) Chelsea’s youth players have been a key part of this success. Tammy Abraham is the clubs leading goal-scorer, Mason Mount has been a key part for Chelsea’s midfield and Fikayo Tomori has been an absolute beast at the back even though he has to work on his passing a bit.
2) The midfield duo of Jorginho and Kovacic has been superb. These two have performed so well that Kante’s lengthy absence from the team because of injuries was hardly noticed. Jorginho is statistically the best defensive midfielder in the Premier League. His killer through balls and his acute understanding of the game has been consistent throughout the season. Kovacic has been arguably the best Chelsea player this season. He is almost as if he is press resistant from other midfielders and his dribbles are a joy to watch.
3) Chelsea’s attack this season has been in fine touch. Christian Pulisic has proved himself worthy of a starting position after a very slow start to his campaign by scoring a perfect hat-trick against Burnley and scoring in consecutive matches. Tammy Abraham has 11 goals in 19 appearances for Chelsea this season proving his doubters wrong. Willian too has also been in fine touch with a new manager Frank Lampard increasing the Brazilian’s confidence.
4) Frank Lampard has proved himself a superb coach this far. His man-management skills are brilliant, and which can be shown regarding how he got Pulisic firing this season. His tactics too also haven’t been bad either. He has shown that he can be a manager who can lead Chelsea towards winning titles.
1) Chelsea’s defence has not turned up for multiple matches. The centre-back partnership of Zouma and Tomori hasn’t performed very well. They had their moments, but they need better quality in this position. Chelsea captain Azpilicueta too has been shaky for some games. Youngster Reece James may soon occupy his spot. In the left-back position, both Alonso and Emerson haven’t been brilliant, and Chelsea might need to dip into the transfer window to get someone better. The biggest liability for Chelsea’s defence has been Kepa Arrizabalaga who is having a very underwhelming season and definitely should pick up his performances.
2) Chelsea’s mentality against the big sides should also be under the scrutiny. Although they have played well in these games, the final scorecard doesn’t seem to agree with that. Except for Ajax Chelsea have regularly struggled against the bigger sides and should work hard to improve their mentality.
Arsenal’s 2019-20 season has been a complete mess this far. Even though they had a superb transfer window, none of the new players has delivered fully.
Arsenal had a great season which increased fan’s expectations. Their start to the season too was good. They got wins over Newcastle and Burnley. Aubameyang scored twice and was in red hot form going in against Liverpool. Nicolas Pepe made his first start for Arsenal at Anfield and impressed everyone with his dribbling skills and became the first player to dribble past Van Dijk who had allowed no one to achieve that feat in 50 PL games. However, it was a 3-1 loss for Arsenal with goals from Salah and Matip. Arsenal was also third in the table after August. They had a memorable North London Derby as well where they managed a 2-2 draw against Tottenham. However, after this game, there were hardly any games where Arsenal fans could extract anything positive from.
They capitulated in a comedic fashion against the bottom of the table Watford surrendering a 2-2 lead at Vicarage Road. They almost lost to Aston Villa at hope after Maitland-Niles was sent off at the 41st minute. However, two precious late goals helped Arsenal get a 3-2 win over Aston Villa. Next came a drab 1-1 draw against Manchester United where McTominay gave United the lead which was then cancelled by Aubameyang. After that match, they have got 3 wins in 10 matches with only one win coming in the league where they got a scrappy 1-0 win over Bournemouth at home. The lowest point of the season probably came against Crystal Palace when Granit Xhaka was booed by the fans after being substituted. Xhaka as a reaction threw his captain’s armband and made mocking actions towards the fans. Now let’s look at the positives and negatives so far-
1) Hiring of the new Manager Mikel Arteta is a boost for the squad.
2) In Aubameyang and Lacazette, Arsenal by far has the best-combined strike force in the league.
3) If Arsenal’s midfield comes together, they have a good balance. Mesut Ozil as an attacking midfielder, Dani Ceballos as the central midfielder and Lucas Torreria as the defensive midfielder is a competent midfield trio.
4) Unai Emery had given many minutes to the Arsenal academy graduates. Youngsters like Joe Willock, Gabriel Martinelli and Bukoya Saka have impressed Arsenal fans in the limited time they get with Martinelli even getting the Arsenal Player of the Month once.
5) Although Nicolas Pepe hasn’t delivered at all this season, there is still time for the young French winger to prove his doubters wrong. He showed his quality at Lillie last season and this season he has enough time to impress the world.
6) Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney have come back from lengthy injuries. Though they haven’t made a huge impact till now, there is enough chance for them to show their mettle and prove their quality.
1) In certain occasions, it seems like Arsenal go into matches with no game plan. Arsenal’s defence has faced a massive 225 shots in 13 matches in the Premier League, Arsenal has had only 162 shots. Unai Emery has always made playing out from the back a priority and this plan has backfired for Arsenal for multiple occasions because opposition strikers pressurize Sokratis and Leno whose ball-playing skills are not good.
2) The Arsenal board brought in Unai Emery to fix the terrible record that Arsenal had under Arsene Wenger. During his tenure, there have been no improvements in that record with Arsenal recording no away wins this season.
3) Unai Emery has lost the dressing room. The fact that Unai Emery has lost the dressing form is clear from the way Lacazette responded after scoring a last-minute equalizer against Southampton. The players don’t want to play for Emery and are making it very clear day by day.
4) The biggest drawback for Arsenal this season has been Unai Emery. Under Wenger even though Arsenal weren’t able to perform that well but played attractive football which was not the case for Emery. It feels like the club has taken a backward step in appointing Emery as their manager and he was killing the spirit of the club.
Arsenal needs to pick up quickly if they want to qualify for next year’s Champions League. They are dropping points left right and centre. Addition of the new manager Mikel Arteta, has gained some confidence in the squad and now are looking for an improved performance in the coming games after their victory over Manchester United.
Chelsea needs to keep on doing what they are doing right now. Their performances bar a few games has been brilliant. If they perform well against big teams, then a top 4 finish is guaranteed for them.