Art Breaker: Chelsea Report & Ratings

This game brought out some emotions we haven’t felt for a while.

Pride, satisfaction, enjoyment… I experienced all of those for large parts of the match – and it has been a long time since an Arsenal performance produced that effect.

Then absolute heartbreak and disappointment, which again felt novel. This season our defeats have just been a depression sandwich with a layer of inevitability sauce smeared on the top.

But not yesterday. Yesterday we looked like a team that was well organised and that cared, so when we lost at the death I cared too and I think most fans felt the same.

A summary of the game: for the first half hour especially (and overall until we tired in the last 15 minutes) we actually looked like a team that knew what it was doing.

We were compact, we were organised, we tackled and chased. We were really good and it brought us a 1-0 lead that was thoroughly deserved. A cross from our left was flicked on by Chambers and Aubameyang’s movement and determination got him to the ball in the six yard box to head home.

We had other good chances throughout the game to score – Aubameyang laid it off to Lacazette in the box but his first touch was poor; a Willock shot drifted wide.

Torreira was having an excellent game in the holding midfield role and Ozil was pulling the strings going forward. Thirty minutes in we were so on top it was embarrassing.

In Saturday’s blog I raised the question of whether Arteta or Lampard had more promise as a manager. Well, Arteta is clearly having an instant impact on Arsenal, but it was Lampard who pulled off the managerial masterstroke.

With a little over half an hour gone and Chelsea being outplayed all over the pitch, he took the brave decision to make an early substitution, hooking Emerson and replacing him with Jorginho. Although we continued to play well, the change gave Chelsea more compactness and they started to have more of the ball from that point on.

In the second half Chelsea had plenty of possession but we were coping well and they had few chances on goal.

Then, with 10 minutes to go, our most consistent player of the season made an almighty boo-boo. A high cross came in from our right and Bernt Leno charged out to punch it, got nowhere near and the ball flew over everyone to Jorginho, who was unmarked at the back post for a tap-in.

It was a shocker from Leno and, if he had not messed up I’m pretty confident we would have held on for the three points.

Stung by the goal we went all out for a winner (Arteta threw on Pepe for some fresh legs). But whatever else we’ve been doing in training over the last year it’s clear that fitness has not been a priority and we were obviously tiring in the last quarter of an hour. So when one of our attacks broke down and Chelsea launched a counter, too many of our players lacked the energy to chase back effectively.

Chelsea got the ball wide, from where a cutback from Willian allowed Abraham to collect the ball in the box, turn and shoot home through Leno’s legs.

I have seen lots of people slaughtering Mustafi for the goal, but that’s just the usual scapegoating that certain Arsenal fans feel the need to indulge in whenever things don’t go the way they like. Could Mustafi have been tighter on Abraham? Yes, but Willian’s cutback was nicely disguised. It had looked as if he was going to square the ball across the six yard box and Mustafi took half a step to cut it out before seeing the ball cut backwards. No doubt if he had stayed with Abraham and Willian had squared the ball leading to a goal, Mustafi would be being slaughtered for not anticipating the cross.

However, I think you can question whether it was sensible to push for a winner at 1-1, when we had so many tired legs.

Even at 1-2 down, Torreira had a great chance to volley home unchallenged to salvage a point but misconnected with the ball.

There were other gripes: the referee was awful, allowing constant small fouls by Chelsea players and showing massive inconsistency by not giving Jorginho a second yellow for a shirt tug on Guendouzi; we lost yet another defender to injury when Chambers had to leave the pitch; our fitness levels need looking at.

But my big take away was that for the first time in a long time we looked like a team that both had a plan and believed in that plan. I’ll take that for now, despite the pain.


Player Ratings

Leno 3

Sorry, I know that’s harsh and he has been good all season but… that was one terrible time to make such a colossal blunder and it cost us all three points.

Maitland-Niles 6.5

Continues his steady run of form.

Saka 7

Good energy and positional discipline for the most part. And linked up well going forward.

Chambers 7

Looked comfortable until forced off by injury.

Luiz 7

Good game for the Brazilian, winning headers, making tackles and cutting out Chelsea attacks.

Torreira 7.5

Seems to be loving being played in his proper position. A very effective midfield shield throughout. A shame he didn’t connect with that late volley chance.

Guendouzi 6

Plenty of energy but a little bit of a weak link yesterday. His tendency to make silly fouls is a dangerous one and we were lucky that VAR didn’t award a penalty for his tug on a Chelsea arm in our box. He needs more discipline.

Ozil 7.5

Was running the game for most of the first half and looked good throughout until tiring, at which point he was subbed off.

Nelson 7

This lad is justifying his selection under Arteta. Another decent game. His willingness to take on defenders helps make things happen.

Aubameyang 8 MoTM

Took his goal really well and worked tirelessly all game, often appearing to be an auxiliary left back. An example to the rest of the team.

Lacazette 6

I don’t know where he left his shooting boots, but I wish he’d hurry up and find them.


Mustafi 6

Filled in well when he came on for Chambers on 23 minutes, but he does not have Chambers’ composure on the ball and that probably affected us a little. Some will say he was at fault for Chelsea’s second but I think that’s harsh.

Willock 6

On for Ozil on 76 minutes. Didn’t make a huge impact.

Pepe 5

Got four minutes plus injury time (another seven minutes) but didn’t get a chance to do much.



23 Responses to Art Breaker: Chelsea Report & Ratings

  1. GoonerB says:

    This modern more aggressive and intensive game requires a level of conditioning to sustain it for 90 minutes. It took both Klopp and Guardiola a while before their teams were perfecting it and they had to suffer some poorer results earlier on in their tenures in order to achieve the ultimate goal of perfecting this style of play and making it effective for 90 minutes game to game.

    What is more important for us at the moment is that we have a young coach who has stepped in and in a short space of time shown the players, fans and footballing world at large that he can get teams playing this way, and more importantly that we can play this way.

    This bodes very well, before we have even considered any additions to the squad that can strengthen us. Again it highlights how far away from our potential level we had been playing at. I have a really good feeling further down the line with Arteta, as long as the Kroenke regime back him appropriately.

    I think we will slowly claw our way back up the table and things will look quite different in 6 weeks, although I feel we are already too late to think about top 4 and with Leicester breaking in, I can’t realistically see top 6 right now. What I really hope for is that the momentum of the improvement really picks up pace in the final 1/4 of the season.

    If we have managed to stay in the Europa league and these improvements continue then we should end up one of the favourites for it. Now that would be a highly successful season all things considered from where we are now, if we won the EL crept into the ECL and finished strongly in the league, and would likely see us as ultimately having a better season than some of our traditional rivals further up the table.

  2. GoonerB says:

    Sorry, I forgot to say a big thanks for the post, which I assume is to Rocky because “a depression sandwich with a layer of inevitability sauce smeared on top” has all the hallmarks of a classic Rockyism 🙂

  3. RA says:

    Absolutely excellent report, Rocky, and totally agree with your perception of how the game went, with one tiny cavil about the ratings in the case of Mr Leno the GK. But petty or not I feel Leno deserves a mitigatory opinion. 😳

    You quite rightly suggested that the fitness of Arsenal’s players needs to be addressed, and you were therefore also right in saying that in the final 15 minutes the defence came under some increasing pressure, and were beginning to fade.

    What has that to do with Mr Leno, you may ask, and my response, my Lud, is that he made that somewhat erratic decision to come out and unnecessarily attempt to punch the ball, even tho Luiz had it covered, because he probably felt the chances of the tall Abraham reaching it in the air before our rather diminutive and tiring defenders was to great a risk.

    I would therefore submit an appeal on his behalf to have his rather derogatory ‘3’ increased to 6, as collectively that might be fairer individually, and the combined rating score for the entire team should be a cumulative ‘7’ as they were mostly splendid.

    I rest my ass.

  4. RA says:


    A very sensible and mature look at the positives of this game and for the future improvement of the team’s performances.

    If only we can acquire a taller more technical CH in the transfer window, rather like ‘Pool did when they acquired Dick van Dyke who transformed their team, and there are much better CHs out there than we currently have, we could also greatly benefit with Mikel’s new strategy/tactics.

    Looking at the screen, I almost shouted with joy, when for almost 75 minutes you could clearly see the players lining up in defence and also midfield in a disciplined, compact 4:4:2 system that has frankly been missing for years at Arsenal, with the laissez faire attitude of both Wenger and Emery.

    That pleased me above all else!!

  5. fred1266 says:

    Yea I saw even the commentators blaming the CB for the second goal at first I assumed they had everything cover and saka just need ro get back to defend willian at first I was like why is I not trying to vet back on second glance you could see he was knackered

    Strange when u like a player u would analyze what they did wrong if that was guendouzi or xhaka I would just be saying he lazy etc

    Like how mikel told saka to get off from the ground at the end of the game

  6. Sue says:

    Yes I liked that clip you posted, Fred. That man Arteta oozes class!
    Great report, Rocky! What can I say? Helluva header! The football in the first half was what I’ve been longing for all season! Absolutely spot on! Really happy with how things are going under Arteta…. just hope we start picking up some points… we’re too close to the bottom 3!
    Wednesday will be a huge test! Fingers (& everything else!) crossed!

  7. GoonerB says:

    On the second goal AMN has just completed an overlap and delivered into the box so can’t be blamed for being up the pitch out of position.

    Douzi gets caught the wrong side trying to press for an quick turnover of possession again. Again we want the pressing of the ball so I am unsure he can be considered out of position. His speed of recovery left a lot to be desired though. It could be put down to being Knackered, who knows, but comparisons with Torreira and Saka are interesting.

    Torreira was the only one who (seemingly) bust a gut to get back and cover. Saka just looked absolutely out on his feet as if he was imploring his legs to go faster but they just wouldn’t, and we do know the boy has pace. I also note that Saka went down for a while earlier in the game so I wonder if he was carrying a slight injury through the rest of the game because we had no option to replace him.

    The difference between Douzi and Saka was that Saka seemed to be trying but just couldn’t make it, whereas Douzi looked like he was having a bit of a stroll back without a care in the world. Maybe that is just the impression and the reality is his legs wouldn’t carry him, so the benefit of the doubt goes in his favour here.

    Arteta said it himself that we maybe couldn’t match Chelsea physically towards the latter stages. Lampard has had them playing with high intensity since the start of the season so they are conditioned for it, while we have been playing at 1/2 to 3/4 pace all season till now. It won’t just be training that brings this conditioning up to scratch, it will be a number of games playing this way as well.

    It will become important at the moment to capitalise more while we are in the ascendancy before we start to tire. This is only a temporary thing though.

    Ian Wright rightly pointed out that the boards timing with the decision on a change of manager has not helped. It should have happened earlier, when the writing was already on the wall, and if it had we would have approached this period potentially with more points, from the earlier kinder of run of fixtures, and better conditioning so that we would have now been keeping this intensity up better later in games.

    It is all water under the bridge though, as it is what it is. I think it needs to be noted though, not so much in terms of bashing the board, but more in terms of recognising that Arteta has come in at a less favourable moment and therefore needs extra leeway.

    By the way, I didn’t think that Jorginho was the first Chelsea player that the ref bottled the 2nd yellow with, although his became the more obvious. I am sure that one of their defenders (maybe Tomori or Rudiger) earned a clear second yellow that the ref bottled before this. Might be wrong without going back over it, but live at the time I seem to remember this.

    With so little time and with so many injuries, against a team that has been conditioned for high intensity the whole season, and a ref that had a big hand in helping them decide this fixture, I think we can be proud of the turn around and performance under Mikel.

  8. RA says:

    I am not sure what else you can cross, Sue, and I think you said, when you first came on AA, that you were already cross-eyed — or was that Rocky? 😜

  9. Sue says:

    😂 No, it was your good self, RA, hehe!!

  10. RA says:

    Oh, yes — bugger it — so I did — I hoped you would not remember !! 😜

  11. Rasp says:

    Great report Rocky …. as usual your words express my feelings perfectly. If we can improve that much after 3 days training, think how good we can be in a month.

    The extra 20% in fitness will take time to achieve, but the beauty of this style of football is that there is no place for a player to hide, if you don’t commit everything you will stand out like a sore Achilles.

    Forgetting the score, the result of less than a week of Mikel’s influence was mighty impressive.

    Bring on the mancs!

  12. Sue says:

    Ref watch on Sky said Jorginho should’ve been sent off – no use in crying over spilt milk, I know, but jeez these costly errors really are making me pig sick!!
    We’ve had more than our fair share!! About time that changed…. starting Wednesday!

  13. fred1266 says:

    Unfortunately sue don’t think Wednesday the day don’t mean to be a downer but jessy might quicker score than us beating United,

    Maybe I have been traumatized by watching us from the upper tier and seeing de gea 15 saves against us

  14. Aaron says:

    Rocky, very level report, and emotionally agree with your second paragraph.

    A couple of things, yes the ref’s blew it again, and I have said for ages that vaR is $h*Te, especially considering the use of a four dollar camara, from a horrible vantage point. What could go wrong? I digress, Mikel said WE lost as a team.

    Now, a couple of points, Mustafi is 100% culpable-end of….. All that guy has to do is step up, take the chavs player out, and there would not be Willian the magician ready to lay a perfect cross.

    When Chambers went out I knew the game would change because mustafi was coming in. He is not the correct fit with sideshow Bob as they are both aggressive ball winners who do not compliment each other, not a calm head to be found amongst them.

    Also, Leno is a shot stopper, not a ball in the box winner, he is not big enough to do that, and if the Arsenal are flooded with balls into the box, we all know what will happen.

    Looking at the Arsenal’s composition is astounding, it’s as if they were looked at in a vacuum. Mikel’s got a tough job to weed out the almost good enough fit, the physically weak, the mentally weak, and the lack of athletes in our squad.

    By the way Mikel and company, run their a$$es off as the fitness levels are a laughing stock.

    Call Medley up immediately, because if Mikel plays mustafi back there, the Arsenal might not win again this SEASON.

  15. GoonerB says:

    I hate to say it but I think the Mancs have turned a corner, now boasting an exciting young and prolific front 3, and also look solid through the rest of the team. Part of me feels they may be a tougher proposition than Chelsea.

    Once again I want Arteta to stick to his mantra and lets keep delivering the performances rather than trying to nullify and nick a draw or a scrappy 1-0 where we have been the inferior team. That way leads to the dark side and only staying true to the development project will hold us in true stead in the long run as the season progresses, even if means some temporary loss of points.

    I know many will press the panic button should we lose to Utd but a kinder run of fixtures will come again and if we stick with the high intensity format right now, then when those games come we should be far better at Artetaball and start seeing many more 3 points (rather than 1 with too many draws) drop our way. Across 10 games if you lost 6 and won 4 that still trumps 10 draws.

  16. GoonerB says:

    Wow, that’s a big call Aaron. Medley vs Mustaffi being the difference between winning games or not winning again this season.

    Now granted I think we need an upgrade in CD, and that Mustaffi will probably move on when this happens, but like Rocky I didn’t feel he was dreadful when he came on, certainly not bad enough that an untested youth player would make such a dramatic difference in his place.

  17. LBG says:

    Medley is a CB, not really a left back( Bola is the left back), but Mavrapanos is better at the moment with more experience.
    Tomori was the other ” double” yellow culprit, GoonerB.
    Because I never condone the “professional tackle”, Aaron, for any reason. ( Pure cowardice for me), cant agree with you totally for a change. But Mustafi should be able to slow him down, push wide with, as I said yesterday, the old fashion “jockey”. What he had to do was get closer having dropped off as far as the sixth yard box. Culpable certainly.

  18. Sue says:

    You never know, Fred 😜 I still have nightmares about that game 😂…. not sure what was worse – us playing superbly and ending up losing or Lingard and that stoopid bloody dance!!!

  19. LBG says:

    Certainly dont need Dermot Gallagher to know Jorghino should have been sent off. Pure cowardice on part of ref compounded by booking Laca to justify it to himself.

  20. VP says:

    It makes me angry that so many decisions go against the Arsenal. Why?

    Jorghino should have been sent off and we wouldve come away with 3 points.

    and The Crystal Palace goal should have been allowed thats another 2 points.

    5 points lost in just 2 games due to refereeing.

    The below is from the Daily Mail last month

    Mike Riley has pleaded with fans to give VAR more time after it was revealed video officials incorrectly overturned four key decisions that the on-field referee had got correct, including Arsenal’s disallowed winner against Crystal Palace.

    Arsenal defender Sokratis saw his late goal awarded by referee Martin Atkinson at the Emirates only for VAR to rule it out with the resulting draw last month piling more presure on Gunners boss Unai Emery.

    At meetings with Premier League managers and shareholders it is understood the Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOL), headed by Riley, felt that the goal should have stood as one of four occasions this season when the VAR should not have intervened.

  21. Aaron says:

    I agree with your assessment of mustafi, until that moment occurred, and it will happen every single game! We are on pace to concede 57 goals.
    Regarding fouling, I mean one can sheppard the guy to the left on his off foot, or just come across his body to slow him down, he did neither and usual. He either does not close distance, or goes to ground every time, at least once a game, and those errors are fatal.

    Yes, slot Medley in as the left CB with Luiz on the right, if that is the way it goes. Mavro can’t stay fit, if he can, give the guy a chance. Anyone one but mustafi, sok and luiz together. We will only go backwards if we leave those to guys alongside each other.

    We concede every single game with our current squad, and mustafi somehow just does not fit with the system at Arsenal with the squad we have. But, maybe we can play him and concede 67 goals!

    There are NO easy games, none, not with this squad, and our confidence levels. At least the 2 games before we grabbed a point, but mustafi was not in, and I actually felt we were not terrible as a team in defense in both those games, but Chambers is out so there goes that.

  22. Morning all

    We have a New Post …………….

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