How Chelsea can evade Arsenal: in defence
Since Arsenal won the biggest trophy in the world of football, they have been cocky. They play the better style of football after all. But whoscored.com has something to tell us, lets find out what it is.
Since Chelsea lost to Arsenal by a slender margin of one goal, there have been all kinds of doubts thrown around about Chelsea’s ability to hold on to the Premier League for a second time running. It is not going to be easy and many people think that Arsenal are close to achieving parity with Chelsea in terms of performance. Let us see if that is indeed possible.
We shall take all the parts of the game into consideration one after the other, starting with the defense. Viz-a-viz Arsenal, Chelsea were the better team last season defensively. Have a look at the following numbers for instance:
It becomes clear that Chelsea hold an advantage in terms of the overall performance on the field. Nonetheless, the Gunners are mighty close to matching the performance of the Blues’ Defense. Especially now that they have Clean Sheet Pete between the sticks, there clean sheet percentage should see an improvement. In that case, lets assume they concede four goals less than last season, and the Goal difference of the two teams is separated by only 2 goals.
The above mentioned assumption is a very real possibility and anyone who is acquainted with the difference that Petr Cech can make in goal would accept it in a moment.
Now, let’s move on to some stats provided on whoscored.com, and it reveals that there really isn’t much difference between the Blues’ defense and that of the Gunners:
|Stats per game
When one sees these numbers, it becomes apparent that there really won’t be much of a difference between the two teams’ defensive performances. But that is largely due to the way the teams will be set up to play. Arsenal adopted the pragmatic, trade-mark Mourinho style of game for crucial games like the victory against City. Chelsea, for the first half of the season played more the Arsenal way than Arsenal did themselves.
This is the reason behind the apparent similarity in the numeric performances of the two defences. However, it would be foolish to say that they both performed at the same level. Nevertheless, it means that Chelsea need to be just as imperious or perhaps better than they were last season. Improvement always remains a possibility as Arsenal have done with the purchase of Petr Cech. Chelsea and Mourinho need to do the same, and it is much more harder than what Arsenal had to do. Improving a poor defence is easy, improving the best defence in the league might not be a simple task.
Atletico Madrid are present in the above comparison because arguably, they were the best defensive team in all of Europe and there respective numbers might hold the key as to where Chelsea could improve with their defence.
For every game the teams played, Atletico conceded the least number of shots. A paltry 8.6 times could team attempt a shot on goal. Reduce the number of shots and you have already reduced the possibility of conceding a goal. Prevention is the cure in the case of goals and conceding less shots is the best prevention.
Chelsea are only marginally better to Arsenal, but as Atletico show, there is still room for improvement. It is upto the lads now to lead the way or fall behind.
Chelsea attempt a good 20 tackles in every game and Arsenal are again right on their heels. Atletico show the way in this one too, with more than 23 tackles made in every game. It would be the best time to improve on this front, especially when the judgement of the tackles has been very appropriate from the Chelsea defenders.
John Terry remains the king of last ditch tackles and it would be great to see him pass that skill on to the next generation. Garry Cahill is a fine partner but Kurt Zouma has been a revelation this past season and expectations are high of the Frenchman.
Mobility of the defence seems like a problem at the moment. Neither of the first choice center backs seem pacey to put it mildly. With the involvement of Kurt Zouma more often into the team, that should see an improvement. Interceptions are as much about judging the game as they are about speed and agility.
Chelsea make 9.7 interceptions per game on average, Arsenal have more than double the number of interceptions. Atletico are in the middle of the two English teams with 15 interceptions made per game. It would be a nice number for the Blues’ defence to aim for. Improvement in this area is mandatory and perhaps very easily acquirable.
Infusion of young blood remains the key to this factor and the current pursuit of a couple of defenders bodes well. The need is clear though for the Blues to make a statement in this regard and a certain young, English defender springs to mind at this juncture.
Fouls are the ugliest part of the beautiful game. It is like a paradox, a necessary evil of football. Chelsea do a good job when it comes to foul and should continue in the same vein with this one. The average of 10 fouls per game seems like a perfect balance which is rare to achieve.
The closeness of Arsenal is apparent in this one too. However, the Blues benefit from having the best defender in the Premier League being partnered by England Vice-Captain Cahill. The presence of Zouma around the first team allows him to learn from the best in trade.
Arsenal might be chasing Chelsea closely behind but the experience and undaunted spirit of the Blues back line has helped them set milestones. Improvement might be difficult but is still needed to keep Chelsea ahead of the following brigade.
It is important that Chelsea keep their defence in as strong a condition as possible because other departments should not have to compensate for an under-performing part of the team. Often, it has been the back line of Chelsea that covers their misfiring attack and it should remain as strong as ever under Mourinho.
The competition will be tough in the season that starts against Swansea, but Mourinho will keep his boys ready, starting from the back. What do you think of the Challenge posed by Arsenal?
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