Chelsea vs Arsenal: A tactical, positional and psychological analysis
Written by Hunter on October 31, 2011 19:20
What do we have here? A drubbing by Arsenal at Stamford Bridge? Who would have thought this would be the case two months ago? In a game that could have ended 10-9, it was great to see Arsenal show the strength and resilience to fight back from a losing position to win against a major rival.
There are many talking points and excellent performances we could discuss as a result of this match, but the one we will go with today is one of Arsenal’s newest players. The Brazilian left back, Andre Santos.
Yesterday’s match was a tale of two halves for Andre. In the first half he was anything but solid and seemed at a loss for how to deal with Sturridge who had been giving him a torrid time throughout the half.
The First Half
As the match started there were signs that it could be a long day if you were an Arsenal supporter. The back 4 seemed disjointed and disorganized. The lack of communication and the woeful positioning by both fullbacks was awful and I was hoping for a change at half time. With the way Chelsea were creating chance after chance in the first 10 minutes I couldn’t see a way back into the match if the team had gone down by more than 1 goal.
Santos in particular seemed lost in both positioning and in defending 1 v 1 situations. The pace of Sturridge seemed to be a problem, as did Sturridge’s ability to take Santos on 1 v 1. Let’s look here at Chelsea’s first goal.
For Chelsea’s first goal Santos made 2 errors. The first was diving in on Mata as he got to the ball near the touchline. Instead of standing Mata up and forcing him back Santos dove in and allowed Mata to turn back and create space for himself to get the cross in that led to the goal.
Although he wasn’t helped by the odd body positioning of Mertesacker who was nearest to Lampard, the cross should never have gotten in. Had Santos stepped closer to Mata and held position there, he could have easily stopped the cross from being delivered.
This along with quite a few stray passes led to a first half to forget for Santos and there was no indication that this would improve after half time.
As the second half started there was a noticeable change in the way Santos approached the match. He was closing down quicker, standing players up, intercepting passes as well as getting forward to support the attack.
Suddenly he looked like an experienced premier league left back and was thwarting attack after attack from Chelsea. Had it not been for a foul on Santos by Lukaku he would have had the perfect second half.
The ability shown to support the attack is something that was missing when Gael Clichy was in the team. Although Clichy got forward with regularity, it was extremely rare for him to chip in with a goal or an assist. With Santos Arsenal have a genuine attacking outlet who can hold the ball as well as attack the opposing defenders and cause mismatches in the attacking third.
The goal was a perfect example of a well timed run and the devastation of an early pass. It was also a great example of why a fullback needs to choose his runs wisely and not leave his central defenders with no cover. As Santos stormed forward in the 48th minute, Bosingwa was on a walkabout up the pitch leaving his flank wide open for Santos to stroll in and finish off an excellent pass from Alex Song. As the pass came his first touch was excellent and Santos dispatched to goal with ease past Petr Cech.
It seemed from this point forward Santos was everywhere. He was forward helping in attack, taking opposition defenders on and helping keep possession as Arsenal looked to finish out the match with a well deserved win. The statistics also show that Santos was extremely active, covering 10.5 Kilometers during the match.
If Andre Santos can continue to build on the way he played in the second half it’s going to be very difficult for Kieran Gibbs to find a way back into the squad. I don’t see any reason why Andre Santos can’t keep up this level of play.
As always, feel free to leave your thoughts and comments. Let’s hope for another excellent performance against Marseille in the Champions League.