Therefore, it’s hard to believe that this was the same team that easily handled Chelsea in a 2-0 victory at the Emirates. It appears that Emery and the squad put in the work this week to fix what was wrong.
Emery employed what is known as a diamond formation. Paired up front were Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with Aaron Ramsey slotted just behind them.
A second diamond had Granit Xhaka playing as a central defensive midfielder with Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira on either side.
Behind this set up, Arsenal went with a back four including Laurent Koscielny and Sokratis paired up at the center of the defense.
This system worked and for once Arsenal were able to take a lead, hold on to it and best of all, keep a clean sheet. The diamond formation added an extra level of protection to what has been a rather porous defense.
Arsenal have always been a possession-based team. Back in the glory days that generally resulted in success. In recent times, it hasn’t necessarily brought about results. There have been too many matches in recent years where the Gunners dominated play only to lose on defensive mistakes.
Last week versus West Ham Arsenal had 59% of the ball and lost. Today was the exact opposite. The home side had just 36% of possession. However, it’s what you do when you have the ball that matters.
Lacazette’s thundering strike and Koscielny’s header/shoulder shot gave Arsenal a 2-0 halftime lead. They could have added to that, but the team was focused on its defensive duties and it was amazing to watch.
The stat that truly tells the story is that Arsenal held Chelsea to just ONE shot on goal over 90 minutes.
Koscielny was back to his best. In addition to scoring Arsenal’s second goal, he won 100% of his tackles, completed 84% of his passes, made 13 clearances and had three interceptions. Even better, the Gunner’s captain had more shots on target (2) than the entire Chelsea team combined.
Now that they have proven that they can defend, hopefully Arsenal will continue to do so as the season progresses.