Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea
- Goals: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£10.8m)| Jorginho (£4.9m), Tammy Abraham (£7.8m)
- Assists: Calum Chambers (£4.4m) | Mason Mount (£6.4m), Willian (£7.1m)
- Bonus: Aubameyang x3, Willian x2, Abraham x1
Arsenal are showing signs of improvement under new head coach Mikel Arteta but they remain a work in progress and Fantasy managers will perhaps require further proof of an upturn in performance levels before they revisit the Gunners in earnest.
Arteta’s troops were the better team for large chunks of Sunday’s London derby and set about their visitors with venom, hassling and pressing Chelsea in the early stages in particular.
There were plenty of positives to take from this defeat.
The Gunners looked much better defensively than they had done under Unai Emery and more recently Freddie Ljungberg, with Chelsea not really carving out too many clear-cut opportunities until Bernd Leno‘s (£5.0m) error of judgement allowed Jorginho (£4.9m) to tap in Mason Mount‘s (£6.4m) floated free-kick delivery in the 82nd minute.
The sight of Pierre-Emerick Aubemayeng (£10.8m) haring back into his own half to help makeshift left-back Bukayo Saka (£4.5m) on more than one occasion was typical of the effort that the Gunners put in as a whole.
Even David Luiz (£5.7m) looked fairly competent at the back although the loss to injury of Calum Chambers (£4.4m), arguably Arsenal’s best centre-half on current form, could be a big blow.
Chambers limped off with what looked like a knee problem in the first half and Arteta said after full-time:
The doctors are assessing him. The first feeling he got, it wasn’t very positive.
Further forward, Alexandre Lacazette (£9.3m) still looks short of his best but Mesut Ozil‘s (£7.2m) renaissance continues, with the German midfielder impressing again in the number ten role – although he still has only two attacking returns to his name this season and he ‘assisted the assister’ for the hosts’ goal.
Reiss Nelson (£5.3m) was also bright on the right flank while Aubameyang’s role on the opposite wing didn’t mean that he was hugging the touchline, as we will discuss in the Members Analysis section below.
It was the Gabon international who put Arsenal in front, nodding in a flick-on from Chambers from a set-piece situation.
Reflecting on the game, Arteta said:
I’m really disappointed with the result and the way we conceded the goals, and the timing of them as well.
I’m pleased with a lot of things that I’ve seen. I’m pleased with a lot of things we worked on in training that actually happened in the game, and how they bought into this.
But I’m disappointed to lose the game obviously. We had to sustain that level for longer periods against a very, very physical team like Chelsea.
Physically it was tough to maintain the level Chelsea play at at the moment. We are asking them to do something different, to play at a different pace, much more aggressive and at the moment [of the second goal] they suffered.
Chelsea excelled in a 3-4-3 against Tottenham Hotspur in Gameweek 18 but Lampard has now abandoned the wing-back system early in each of the last two games, with the Blues shifting to a 4-3-3 and sacrificing Emerson (£5.5m) after just 35 minutes on Sunday.
Lampard’s side unsurprisingly gained more control of the midfield with N’Golo Kante (£5.0m), Mateo Kovacic (£5.3m) and Jorginho reunited in the middle of the park but it’s the constant shapeshifting and the lack of a fixed formation that remains offputting to Fantasy managers, as we’re never entirely sure how the Chelsea boss will send out his troops.
The victory over Spurs was perhaps the high point of the last month and this was the latest in a string of underwhelming displays, even if there was a definite improvement in the second half at the Emirates.
As mentioned earlier, it was a Leno error, rather than a moment of magic from the Blues, that led to the equaliser.
The match-winner came from an incisive Chelsea breakaway, with Willian (£7.1m) teeing up Tammy Abraham (£7.8m) for the striker’s first goal since Gameweek 15.
Abraham had been starved of service for the first hour but came into the game in the final third, heading a decent chance straight at Leno in the 74th minute and blazing over with normal time almost up.
Willian and Mount were similarly peripheral until the final 30 minutes, although both banked their eighth attacking returns of 2019/20 with assists for Chelsea’s goals.
In defence, the need for improvement at left-back was again apparent after Emerson’s latest horror show.
Only five teams have kept fewer clean sheets than Chelsea this season and the improvement at the back has been only modest since August, with even Antonio Rudiger’s (£6.0m) return not really having the desired solidifying effect.
Reflecting on the match, Lampard said:
When we played as we did at Tottenham last week, I probably would have questioned my sanity if I had come to Arsenal and we played four at the back and it had gone that way in the first half-hour.
For me the main thing in the first half-hour was not the tactics, it was the spirit and the fight. Arsenal were quicker, we were lethargic, they were brave, we were nervous.
We changed and it got better. Mikel Arteta is not silly. He saw us play at Tottenham and found a way to pin our five back. We had three men marking one at the back and they had numbers in midfield and they won all the second balls, and that had to change.
The response in the second half was everything I wanted. We have been rightly questioned recently. Everton away would be a good one, a team that had life breathed into them by a new manager and we didn’t react and it was quiet after that game in the dressing room and I did not like that, and some of our home games recently were lacking something.
This is not a turning point, it is only a turning point if we show it going forward, but we showed we can have a right go and win a game in a different way. At Tottenham we won it by playing really good football from beginning to end and today we won it by showing fighting spirit. If we can put them together then we will have a chance.
Christian Pulisic (£7.1m) was nowhere to be seen on Sunday, with his absence explained as precautionary due to a hamstring strain.
Reece James (£5.0m) and Marcos Alonso (£6.0m) also missed out through injury, with teenager Tariq Lamptey (£4.0m) playing at right-back for the final half an hour.
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