Five things we learned in Arsenal's first win at Chelsea in 10 years
- Credit: PA
The five things we learned in Arsenal's 1-0 victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge which saw them move up to eighth in the Premier League.
1. In a London derby against the Champions League finalists, Arsenal demonstrated determination, grit, and a steely resolve to secure all three points.
Even after the visitors’ early opener was gift-wrapped by a moment of madness from Jorginho, they were pinned back by a hungry Chelsea side.
Although they amassed 19 shots on goal and hit the woodwork twice, the Blues could not find a way past Gunners outfit who were surprisingly resolute and organised, given how inconsistent Mikel Arteta’s men have been over the course of the campaign.
2. With Europa League football now highly unlikely, Arteta seemed keen to place a focus on tactics and shape.
Reverting to the 3-4-3 that worked so well in last year’s Project Restart, Arsenal looked compact, controlled, and disciplined on their way to a smash and grab win, the Gunners’ first at Stamford Bridge since November 2011.
Although Arsenal looked solid with three at the back, an Expected Goals (xG) total of 0.59, compared to Chelsea’s 1.85, shows more is needed from the squad’s attacking unit if they are to close the gap to the Premier League’s top sides next season.
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3. Pressed on the happiness of the Arsenal dressing room in his post-match interview, Arteta went to great lengths to dismiss talk of any internal rift that might have manifested following the club’s failure to reach the Europa League final.
Whilst a degree of chopping and changing will be necessary over the summer, the Arsenal manager appears content that the application and commitment of his players is not dipping below the high standards he demands.
4. Victory for Arsenal kept them in contention to qualify for the inaugural Europa Conference League (ECL).
Whilst continental football always provides an extra buzz, the ECL does not immediately evoke the usual feeling of glitz and glamour associated with midweek matches under the lights.
Consequently, on-pitch progress at the Emirates might be more immediate if Arsenal only have the Premier League to focus on, where Arteta can concentrate on obtaining consistent results from week to week.
5. Chelsea’s loss mean the fight for fourth place still hangs in the balance. Should Liverpool win their two games in hand, the Reds would cut the gap to Thomas Tuchel’s side to a single point.
Of course, Chelsea could fail to finish in the top four altogether and still qualify for next season’s Champions League, should they beat Manchester City in an all-English final on 29 May.
Indeed, they could end completing the double, their next game being the FA Cup Final against Leicester City at Wembley on Saturday, which few people would have predicted when Tuchel took over in January.