The conclusion of the Premier League 19/20 season has brought much hope for the upcoming season as new faces continue to arrive at Chelsea. The desire for improvement is strong as Lampard is continuing his quest to upgrade his team. This will have to be put on hold though for the time being, as there is one last test for Frank Lampard: the FA Cup final against their long time London rivals, Arsenal. The Gunners have had a rich history in this domestic competition winning the most FA Cups out of all English clubs, with 13 successful trophies. Arsenal could possibly add another trophy to their cabinet if Chelsea were to lose this Saturday. The history won’t matter as much, but will definitely help boost Arsenal’s confidence coming into this match.
Mikel Arteta’s’ side have picked up some momentum winning 4 out of their 7 matches in all competitions. Their most notable victories have come against Manchester City and Liverpool, in which they’ve shown strong performances. Pierre Emerick Aubameyang has been their leading scorer this season with 27 goals and 3 assists in all competitions, while also coming 2nd in the golden boot race behind Leicester’s Jamie Vardy. Their leading playmaker is the talented and young Ivorian, Nicolas Pepe, who has 6 assists, and Bukayo Saka right behind him with 5 assists. The gunners have had a disappointing season finishing 8th for the time in over two decades. Since the arrival of Arteta, Arsenal has only had a 55.5%-win rate from the start of his appointment back in December.
Despite not technically improving Arsenal in terms of wins, Arsenal have improved in terms of performance. The tactics and difference in culture has brought much more hope for the Gunners over the last few months. Their eye-glaring weakness is their lackluster defense, conceding 1.3 goals per match. It’s without a doubt that the gunners are a much more potent side since the introduction of youngsters Jordi Osei-Tetu and Nketiah, but still struggle defensively.
How Arsenal have been Playing – Tactical Analysis:
Chelsea will more than likely match Arsenal’s back three formation, as the gunners have resorted to this lineup against top opposition. In the match against Liverpool, Mikel Arteta was able to punish Liverpool off mistakes in their backline. Arsenal mainly tried to play out from their left hand side with Kieran Tierney and Bukayo Saka overloading the wide areas on the left wing channels. This could spell trouble for the Blues, as Chelsea often struggle against pacey attackers. Arteta could also seek to target Marcos Alonso who is prone to defensive mistakes. Another point of attack was the use of the French striker, Alexandre Lacazette, who was deployed as a false 9 to bring the defenders out of position and open up space behind the backline.
Lampard often tends to use a back three against top teams as well, which has been our preferred lineup over the last couple of games. The double pivot of Kovačić and Jorginho has brought more fluidity to the side, and Lampard had to improvise with N’golo Kanté being out with injury. Kanté is rumored to be fit for the upcoming final and could be reintroduced to bring more defensive stability. This could also hinder Chelsea offensively as the double pivot chemistry could be disrupted if Kovačić or Jorginho would be replaced. The last time these two teams clashed was in January at the Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea let a 10-man arsenal tie the game in the 87th minute. Chelsea were the better team tactically before the David Luiz red card, but Arsenal made it difficult by sitting back in two compact blocks of 5. They exploited Chelsea in transition and the Gunners were able to attack the space left behind the Blues.
In the first league fixture at The Emirates, Chelsea struggled without Jorginho, as Kovačić and Kanté were the two midfielders in the pivot, and this could be another reason why Lampard sticks to Jorginho and Kovačić this Saturday. In Arsenal’s victory against Manchester City, Nicolas Pepe was able to find Aubameyang on the left far post with his left foot delivery and Aubameyang was able to go off the shoulder of Kyle Walker. This is another area Chelsea will need to be wary of as our defenders often tend to sleep off the ball. The Blues should look to target the space behind Aubameyang, as he more often stays forward for the counter-outlet giving up space in their left flank. The wingbacks will surely stay narrow and try to deny Chelsea time on the ball, but we will need to be sharp and clever with our passes to get behind the compact Arsenal defense. Chelsea could also be allowed time on the ball, as Arsenal are sometimes inclined to sit back and hit us on the counter.
This will not be a walk in the park for Chelsea, as Arsenal will come into this match hungry and poised for revenge after their Europa League defeat last year in Baku. The Blues have going down significantly defensive wise and will need to be cautious in how they approach this game. Lampard will have to be attentive as the gunners could test Chelsea in many different areas. An uplifting victory will give this season much more delight and hope for their future, but most importantly give Lampard his first managerial trophy in his young career and solidify his role at Chelsea for years to come.
Sources: FotMob app, Premier League app, transfermarkt.com