3 reasons Arsenal were outclassed by Chelsea

Eden Hazard

In late September, Arsenal battered Chelsea 3-0 and left the Blues out of the top four with no clear idea of where they were headed.

It is early February now and Chelsea avenged that defeat, winning 3-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday to leave Arsenal firmly out of the title race and with everyone knowing what direction they are going in.

Antonio Conte’s men went 12 points clear of the Gunners after Marcos Alonso, Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas gave them an unassailable lead.

Olivier Giroud’s late consolation was as feeble as Arsenal’s display on a day they will want to forget.

But why did the Gunners so terrible against Chelsea on Saturday? Here are three reasons.

  1. Horrible tactical changes

For a manager not always known for his tactical ingenuity, Arsene Wenger did spring a surprise giving up his favoured 4-2-3-1 for a 4-3-3 in the first half. It was meant to provide more stability in the middle, with Alex Iwobi alongside Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, in front of Francis Coquelin. It worked up to a point, with Arsenal stable in the game aside from the concession of the opening goal. But in the second half Wenger wanted to make Mesut Ozil more central, so he abandoned it to go back to 4-2-3-1, opening his team up and conceding the second goal.

  1. An unfit Bellerin

Hector Bellerin was not fit enough to start against Watford on Tuesday night but Wenger decided to take a risk against Chelsea and play the young right-back. But Bellerin, still struggling with an ankle injury, never looked fully ready for the match. It should not have been too much of a surprise when he failed to jump high enough to the second ball after Diego Costa’s header, beaten to it by Marcos Alonso, an incident in which the Spaniard was injured and had to go off.

  1. Ozil lacked interest and desire

On a day when Arsenal were steamrollered by Chelsea’s superior strength and desire, no-one encapsulated the difference between the two teams better than Mesut Ozil. A brilliant player on his day, he never got in the game, but did not always look as if he was trying to. Ozil barely won a single 50-50, showing no real desire to win the ball or even to make things difficult for Chelsea. He ducked out of challenges, did not jump for headers and, when he found himself in wide areas, did not try to stop crosses. Defending is not his natural game but top players take responsibility and that is what Ozil has been failing to do for months.