How to Beat Chelsea? Arteta’s Tactical and Player Choices Will Be Key

The FA Cup final is in just two days time and Arsenal are once again in it. Under difficult circumstances, the great GN5 is working on the sort of high quality preview as only he can produce them. In the meantime, let’s look at the tactical side of things. 

What can we expect of Chelsea and how will Arteta combat with Lampard from a tactical perspective?

From the start of the season I have been impressed with the way Fat Frank has set up Chelsea to play football. They play high tempo, attacking football with crisp passing and gave Liverpool a good run for their money early on in the season (which now feels years away). There was not much space for Giroud before the lockdown but Lampard has had him fully incorporated in his plans since the end of it. The inclusion of the ‘slower’ but steady Giroud has given Chelsea’s attacking a bit more calm and structure, and Ollie has taken his chance to shine again with both feet and his head. He should still be a Gunner but you all know how that one went.

The big question is whether Arteta will leave the attacking initiative to Chelsea or whether he will aim to push the Chavs right back into their own half and surprise them. The risk of the latter is of course getting beaten on counter-attacks and rebounds, and we have been vulnerable to this for a long time. So I expect us to sit deep, like a letter U shape with extra padding for the bottom end through the disciplined duo of Xhaka and Ceballos. 

If so, the Chavs will nestle Giroud in and around our ‘D’ and try and get between our midfield and defence; he will play with his back towards goal as only he can and get the attacking midfielders and fellow attackers into dangerous positions with his lay-offs and link-up play. Holding and Luiz, luckily, know him very well so should be able to eliminate his threat to a large extent. The Chavs strengths is in their midfield and in their efficient use of the wings, and we need to halt and overpower them in both areas.

We may need to play 3-5-2 to win the battle in midfield and spring our own counter-attacks, and our strength is also in our wings/wing-play and our red and white hot striker Aubabangbang-meyang. 

It has been said already on this blog that we will miss Mustafi’s incredible energy and responsiveness on Saturday. Holding is a bit calmer and as strong in the air, but he lacks the dynamism that Mustafi brings to the game. Sometimes this works against the German but Arteta (and Luiz) have turned him into an important player in our defensive set-up.

I think regarding the team Arteta will have a number of choices to make: who to play as right wing-back; where and whether to play Saka; Tierney as wing-back or third CB/ inclusion of Kola; Eddie or Laca; inclusion of Pepe or maybe even Nelson as surprise choice; inclusion of Torreira or maybe even Joe Willock, etc. Mikel may even look at a different system such as 4-4-2 or 4-5-1 to crack the Chavs. It is all very exciting!

My preferred line-up would be:

I would prefer to start with Ainsley for defence-security reasons but Pepe will scare the Chavs more and he is getting in some sort of form now. Pepe will have to work hard, though, as we cannot afford for Holding to be over-exposed on our right wing. In midfield I would like a bit of extra steel and Torreira should offer this. We do miss a creator in midfield so I would want Saka to have a free role and Tierney or Torreira to back fill the left wing as much as possible if and when Bukayo goes wandering to the centre/hole-area.

But what is yours fine fellow BKers and what are your tactical thoughts re the FA cup final?

By TotalArsenal.

38 thoughts on “How to Beat Chelsea? Arteta’s Tactical and Player Choices Will Be Key

  • A post as only you can write TA.

    I’m in the midst of writing my PM and will send it to you later today.
    Covid has robbed my family of the opportunity being at my sister’s funeral (2:00 to 4:00 pm) in Rockport, Massachusetts so we are going to hold our own celebration together at the same time as the reception. The reception clashes with the FA Cup Final so we will record the game and watch it later – my sister like myself (born in Highbury) would heartily approve.

  • Hi GN5, tough tough times for you, excerbated by Corona and your own health challenges. My thoughts are with you and your family.

    I am so hoping the Gunnners will play a cracking game for you and your sister. Stay strong, buddy.

  • Thank you TA, as much as I would like to join in the daily comments I will not have any time – today I’ll write both the PM and a tribute to my sister and I’ve having a full body bone scan on Friday which including travel to and fro will take 9-10 hours. I heart is with my sister and my hope’s are with the Gunners – my sister was also an Arsenal supporter.

  • Nice poser, TA. To beat Chelsea, we have to be focused, have belief, show courage and just don’t give up (no dropping heads, even if we concede first) no matter what. I have no doubt that Lampard will nothing better than to win a trophy in his first season as a top flight manager; even better if the scalp happens to be one of an old rival.

    He is ambitious, is fat Frank and would like to stop us entering Europe. I’d say they have the more experienced players, going forward and do have some better (my view) quality overall and are not under any pressure to win (remember Baku?). What we have going for us is the incentive of a place in Europe to play for, better preparation by a better coach and Aubameyang, who likes to raise his game against teams with some German influence (Pulisic, his former team mate and Rüdiger). Hopefully, he does more of the same vs Chelsea.

  • I do like your line up, TA (though, expect Arteta to stick with a 3-4-3, with a front 3 of Auba, Laca, Pepe) as it gives us defensive assurance, which we would need because Chelsea has improved with some sleek passing through channels, where available. So if we can limit the channels, it will cause them to be listless; I imagine Lampard would have watched videos of our last few games and would counter with better wing play and crosses to Giroud. That’s why we need strong wing backs who should play to block off the crosses. On the right side, I feel Arteta will go for Bellerin in the hope he bombs forward enough to give Alonso something to think about while hoping between Ceballos and Holding, we cut off crosses.

    To be honest, I worry about the absence of Mustafi, though. Pulisic can give Holding a stern test without support coming from the wing back and right side midfielder. I also worry that Giroud would look to score against us again.

    We have the weapons to hurt the, too and I fully expect Arteta to come up with, at least, one surprise name on the team sheet, just to enhance our solidity: Reiss Nelson or AM-N, maybe. We’d see.

  • Nice touch there, TA. GN5, our thoughts are with your sister, Gloria. Here is hoping she beats this and receives her healing.

  • Ey up chaps – can feel the pulses beginning to racing with cup final just over a day away….! (even without there being a chance of any fan presence at Wembley to make another kind of history)

    Nice line up too and where I think I’d agree more with esri that Bellerin will slot into a 3-4-3, with Pepe on the wing cutting in and AMN being available as sub – meaning that Torreira would join him there (he’s not for me been that impressive of late and some thoughts are that he’ll be off this summer, if any decent bids come in).

    So a floating role for Saka to help out in midfield on the left, particularly when Tierney scouts up that way too. That along with Laca dropping when needed to fight deep for the ball will be par the course.

    We’ve looked good against them since the debacle in Baku but they’ve certainly come into more form at the business end of the season. So here’s to hoping :-]

    G5, hope all goes well with the scan and definitely routing for a win to dedicate to your sister – peace.

  • Nice post, TA.
    And the line-up is also reasonable, but I agree with Eris and 5am that Arteta will not likely start experimenting with the 3-5-2 formation in the last game of the season. My guess is that he will go with the 5-2-3 counterattacking – especially in defense, that can turn into 3-4-3.


    The only trick I expect is when attacking Saka will move to LW (allowing Auba to become the secondary striker occasionally), and Xhaka would assume the LWB position in those cases.

    p.s.: My post has no expiration date, let’s leave it after the final.
    p.s.2: My condolences, GN5. Be safe.

  • Cheers Eris, I think you are right re Arteta’s most likely starting-11 and going with a 3-4-3. I think we would be stronger with three central midfielders and have some trust in Torreira being ready for the challenge. A good playing Torreira could make all the difference on Saturday.

  • 5am, agreed that Torreira has been below par recently, yet I feel that he could play a part in Arteta ‘s strategic plan. If you stop Chelsea in midfield you can win a big part of the battle. With the likes of Saka, Laca and Auba up-front we can hurt them. My preference is to be solid at the start and hopefully score first.

  • Cheers PB, that is highly likely our starting 11 on Saturday. Yet I see 3-5-2 not as an experiment but just as an extra man in midfield and one less in attack.

  • Busy today and just read the post and very interesting line up Total, you might be closer than anyone thinks to Arteta’s line up, he’s sure to have a surprise in store for Lampard.
    Mikel knows he has to disrupt the supply lines to Giroud and keep the flying Yankee shackled, it’s going to be a tactical affair I suspect?

    Personally I’d have thought that a line up similar to what Mikel selected for Man City would be nearer the mark, but maybe AMN has a crucial role to play after all as Arteta knows he can apply himself to a certain role in the system MA goes with…

    Really sorry to hear about your sister GN5 and all the associated complexity of it all, this bloody virus has been sent to try us all…

    I will be with my son on Saturday, taking in the occasion and trying to enjoy it, but the importance of the result will probably ensure that I don’t enjoy it at all…

  • Reiss Nelson is a good call Eris, if Arteta has seen some weakness in Chelsea’s system and Nelson is better suited to exploit it than Pepe then he’d have no hesitation in picking Reiss.

    I really like Nelson and it annoys me when I see him named as a possible player to sell, why? I know it’s usually lazy journalism but Nelson has certain qualities that Arteta could develop and I’d like to see MA work with him next season and see where we are in 12 months time?

  • 5am, 1979 was a great year, it was a final that I so remember fondly not least the fact that we were still suffering from the previous years disappointment vs Ipswich Town and when it went 2-2 the looks on my mates faces was one of abject despair, quickly followed by delirium, it was that type of day.

    Another 3-2 win for the boys in red and white would be fantastic, even if it would thoroughly shred my nerves…

  • Yes Total, we have a tactician of Grahamesque in Arteta and I mean that as a compliment because in a one off game he can often come up with a surprising strategy much as George was capable of, so AMN could be utilised to do a De Bruyne job on Pulasic or some such gem.

  • There’s hardly been a peep coming out of Arsenal this week, I know that there’s been a shed load of transfer nonsense but nothing really regarding the cup final, so either they’re hiding an injury or Mikel has been working on a system that’ll have the Chelsea players looking as confused as the Man City players a few weeks ago?

  • Yeah Willian, he’s a very skilful player Total, let’s hope that he suffers a Petr Cech occasion before he signs for us…

  • My bad! Didn’t quite see that GN5’s message was one of bereavement. My sincere condolences, GN5. I pray for sweet repose for your sister’s (red & white) soul. As for you, hope you get better soon. Best regards to your folks.

  • Condolences GN5. I hope that we all pray for your sister to reach the vast heavens and with no misery of any sort.
    Stay strong GN5. Your health is more important than anything else in the world big man.

    I had largely abstained from writing about our season until after the FA cup, as things had been changed (I am not sure if it was for the better, for our mental strength is the main issue here).

    TA, a 3-5-2 formation is only useful if we keep attacking. If we were to play Kola and drop deep we will be in for a hiding like what we did to the Chavs a few seasons ago when Alexis is still with us. 3-0 in the first half settled everything as they were dropping too deep. Hope that Mikel learnt from that and press from the start.

  • Talking again about the ’79 final – I was a kid at my mates party who was a ManU fan – after being miserable for so long at 2-0 down they got all excited for nothing, haha

    Fair point TA about the best way of tackling Chelsea is to beat them in midfield – I had my Wenger strategy hat on in just playing to our strengths :-]

    So will see if a disciplined Saka and Laca add enough weight to be the extra man in midfield when needed if he doesn’t go with Torreira from the off….., either way it’ll fingers crossed, with legs and toes!

    For scorelines, let’s hope they’ve been practicing penalties too 😅

  • Morning Guy’s,

    Thank you for all of your kind words, my family will attend my sister’s on a virtual basis, my son is going in to hook us us, so that we can pay our tributes live on our television screens, my son and my nephew in Rockport, Mass are both very competent when it come to electronics.

    I’ll get back later today after my scan – if it’s clear then I may have finally beaten back the prostate cancer – please make sure that you all have an annual PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood test – it’s a simple test but could be a life saver.

  • Dear me, it’s too hot today, you need a shower every couple of hours, thankfully for the final it’s a bit cooler tomorrow.

    Good luck GN5, I had a test booked back in early April, but given the virus I had to cancel it.
    So many things are on hold atm…

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