Unai Emery finds Chelsea's weakness but poor set-up costs Arsenal in London derby

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Marcos Alonso’ late strike saw Chelsea beat Arsenal 3-2 in the London derby at Stamford Bridge.

Maurizio Sarri’s side took a 2-0 lead before the visitors drew level before the end of the first half.

Pedro slotted away in the ninth minute and Alvaro Morata scored the second 11 minutes later.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan got one back in the 37th minute for the away side before Alex Iwobi restored parity in the 44th minute.

However, Chelsea bounced back , dominating the second half before Alonso finished off substitute Eden Hazard’s pass in the 81st minute.

Here’s a look at how Unai Emery lost the tactical battle with Sarri.

BASIC STATS

Goals – 2

Shots – 15

Possession – 38%

Tackles – 14

Dribbles – 5

30-SECOND REPORT

Emery stuck with a 4-2-3-1 formation and unsurprisingly saw his side struggle to cope with the high-press as they attempted to play the ball out from the back, just as they did against Manchester City last weekend. That gave Chelsea the upper hand in the early exchanges and allowed them to pick Arsenal off by exploiting their high-line.

However, after going two goals down, Emery engineered a way back into the game as they regularly created big chances towards the end of the first half. After restoring parity though, they lost their way in the closing stages and suffered defeat.

Unai Emery

Unai Emery

TACTICAL TALKING POINT

Overloads

Emery would like to see his side dominate possession but they aren’t quiet as commanding on the ball yet and against Chelsea, were always second best in that regard. The former Paris Saint-Germain boss though noticed Aubameyang getting in behind Chelsea rather comfortably a couple of times when he peeled wide and quickly identified that as the home team’s weakness.

He proceeded to instruct his full-backs to get forward down the flanks and the attacking midfielders to support them with late runs behind the opposition’s full-backs, creating an overload in wide areas. The Gunners were regularly afforded time and space to get to the byline and cut passes back, which is where their goals came from.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan got Arsenal back into it.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan got Arsenal back into it.

VERDICT

Emery got several things wrong in the way he set up his side. The double-pivot, while intended to offer a sturdier defensive structure, was not able to provide enough out balls for defenders in possession. Meanwhile, the persistence with Matteo Guendouzi and Granit Xhaka was puzzling as both were poor against City.

Meanwhile, Lucas Torreira was left on the bench and once again came off it and impressed. Emery missed a trick in not deploying Aaron Ramsey to shadow Jorginho who had the freedom of Stamford Bridge to dictate play. He must be given credit for identifying Chelsea’s weakness and effectively attacking it.

Rating – 6/10

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Eden Hazard and Mateo Kovacic make difference as Chelsea get grade C and Arsenal a D

Alex Rea 18/08/2018
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Eden Hazard set up the decisive goal for Marcos Alonso as Chelsea beat Arsenal 3-2 in a frenetic London derby.

For 20 minutes Chelsea were so good it looked like it would be a rout, with goals from Pedro and Alvaro Morata their reward.

But Arsenal roared back to level through Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi within five first-half minutes.

Both sides had chances to earn the Premier League points before substitute Hazard, apparently staying put for now after a summer flirtation with Real Madrid, crossed for Alonso to net the winner nine minutes from time.

Here is our Report Card from an entertaining clash at Stamford Bridge.

THE GOOD

Hazard’s energy – The Belgian only entered proceedings just after the hour mark, but he made all the difference. He buzzed and bullied, making the most final-third passes (19 from 21 attempted) and set-up Alonso for the winner.

Guendouzi’s grace – Arsenal played some scintillating football at times. Head coach Unai Emery will be disappointed with the defeat and two opening losses will paint an ugly picture, but they have unearthed a bit of an artist in Matteo Guendouzi. The midfielder gracefully stroked the ball about the pitch and decorated their attacking play with poise.

THE BAD

No case for either defence – Arsenal pushed up so high their defenders were closer to goalkeeper Kepa than they were Petr Cech. Any clipped ball over the top and the Gunners looked vulnerable. But Chelsea were just as bad. There was more slicing than a slasher movie and the visitors should have scored more when they exploited the space between full-back and centre-back.

18 08 post card

KEY MOMENTS

First Half

9th min GOAL Chelsea 1-0: Hector Bellerin farcically chases the ball high up the pitch and Mkhitaryan is left scrambling to cover the run of Marcos Alonso on the left. The Spaniard has time and space to easily lay it on for Pedro to finish.

19th min CHANCE Arsenal: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has had a shocker. Guendouzi slips the ball into the right channel for Bellerin. He composes himself, cuts the ball back into the centre of the box and Aubameyang launches the ball over the bar with the goal gaping.

20th min GOAL Chelsea 2-0: Morata is just inside his own half but Arsenal’s backline is ludicrously high and Cesar Azpilicueta pings a ball into the space over for the No9. He accelerates away from Shkodran Mustafi, cuts inside onto his left foot and slips his strike home.

30th min CHANCE Arsenal: Another huge opportunity is wasted by the visitors. This time on the opposite side, Nacho Monreal slides the ball through to Iwobi and his cut-back falls to Mkhitaryan who impersonates Aubameyang by skying it over the bar as well.

37th min GOAL Arsenal 1-2: Mkhitaryan makes amends for his earlier miss by smashing home a left-footed strike from the edge of the area. Kepa dives to his right and should do better as he failed to parry away.

41st min GOAL Arsenal 2-2: Four chances from exactly the same ploy and a second goal. Mkhitaryan turns providers as he exploits the space in between centre-back and full-back to find Iwobi who slams the ball home.

Second Half

78th min CHANCE Arsenal: Best chance of the second half for Arsenal. Alexandre Lacazette coming into the fold has made a big difference and fellow substitute Aaron Ramsey finds space in the channel and Kepa almost spills his cross-shot.

81st min GOAL Chelsea 3-2: Poor pass from Lacazette and Chelsea are able to break. The Frenchman’s defending is dreadful and Hazard sprints to the byline and crosses for Alonso to turn home the low cross.

18 08 report card

KEY TACTICS

Sarri’s substitutions – Mateo Kovacic and Hazard’s introduction on the hour ultimately decided this game. Arsenal couldn’t get near the class of the Croatian and there are few scarier sights for already stretched defenders when Hazard enters to tear you apart.

Emery spots the gap – Emery will need to take a long hard look in the mirror when he thinks about his defence. Ex-manager Arsene Wenger will probably be staring right back at him. However, credit to the Spaniard for the way he set up his side to attack Chelsea, because he clearly spotted their weakness in the wide areas and the Gunners repeatedly opened them up on both wings.

STANDOUT STAR

Marcos Alonso

Considering there were five goals scored and atrocious examples of defending from both sides, picking a member of Chelsea’s backline might seem a little odd.

However, for all his defensive deficiencies, Alonso proved yet again why he is one of the most lethal attacking full-backs in world football.

He had a hand in Chelsea’s first, scored the winner and displayed super movement in and around the box with threatening deliveries from out wide.

VERDICT

Chelsea

Ultimately, the hosts were more cohesive and more clinical when it mattered. Chelsea just about deserved the three points but once again, they look dreadfully exposed at times. Still, it’s certainly entertaining and a complete contrast to last season.

Grade: C

Arsenal

In parts, the Gunners looked really good. In others, they looked awful. A high line with Mustafi and Sokratis always seemed suicidal and it proved to be the case. Had Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan been more clinical when they carved open the hosts, it might have been a different story.

Grade: D

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How Harry Kane shook off World Cup hangover and broke August curse in Tottenham win

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Harry Kane‘s nights of waking up in a cold sweat when August comes around the corner are over.

The Tottenham striker scored the third goal to wrap up his side’s 3-1 win against Fulham at Wembley Stadium. He had never previously hit the back of the net in August for his club.

Lucas Moura gave the hosts the lead late in the first half before Aleksandar Mitrovic equalised early in the second.

Kieran Trippier’s free-kick gave Spurs the lead once more before Kane secured victory.

Here’s a closer look at Kane’s performance.

STATISTICS 

Goals – 1

Assists – 0

Shots – 3

Shots on target – 1

Touches – 77

Passes – 53

Key passes – 3

Pass success – 79.3%

Dribbles – 3

Dispossessed – 3

30-SECOND REPORT

After a lacklustre display away to Newcastle United in the opening week of the 2018/19 Premier League, Kane showed signs of life in this encounter.

He was handed some support up front in the form of Lucas Moura and his overall involvement was more pronounced. After netting a goal that was disallowed and volleying an effort onto the crossbar, he finally broke the August curse with a composed finish.

The curse is lifted: Harry Kane

The curse is lifted: Harry Kane.

GOT RIGHT

Link-up play – Kane performed his role as the focal point in attack admirably, holding the ball up well and linking play, even setting Christian Eriksen up inside the box for a shot that was blocked.

Scoring – It sounds simplistic, however it’s been anything but for Kane in August. With Erik Lamela running through the heart of Fulham, he peeled wide, took the pass in his stride and cut inside for a tidy finish.

GOT WRONG

Poor touch – There were signs of rustiness still and some of Kane’s touches were wayward. He miscontrolled more times than anyone other Spurs player (4).

Shooting – Given the dominance Spurs enjoyed, you’d think Kane would’ve tested the keeper a lot more. An in-form Kane peppers the opposition’s goal with shots. In fact, he refused to pull the trigger on one occasion, choosing to hit the deck for a soft penalty instead.

VERDICT

A much improved performance from the one he mustered last weekend. While not yet at his devastating best, he looked a lot sharper and didn’t tire as quickly this time. Most importantly, he got that elusive August goal and the monkey is now finally off his back. He will only improve in the coming weeks.

RATING: 7/10

Harry Kane opens his account for the season.

Harry Kane opens his account for the season.

All statistics are compiled using whoscored.com

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