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Michael Tucker

Chelsea 3 Arsenal 2

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^ And ... *drumroll* we've played only two games. There are a lot more to come. The idea anyone is being 'overlooked' by 19th August is the kind of nonsense I'd expect of oppo fans.

If RLC doesn't force his way in this season, that's on him and I'd hold no grudges.

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Wow!

Well, one thing is for sure. This will be one hell of an entertaining season! I love it! Yes defensively we were all over the shop last 20 of the first half. But for 70 minutes (ok, maybe more like 55-60) we played amazing football with high intensity, one-touch football and an insane press. Once the attacking combos comes more natural I think we will be amazing to watch!

This is how I always want us to play. José did it in stretches over his two tenures here but was overall much more pragmatic. Conte did it for 20 league games or so in his first season. Apart from that we have to go back to some months under RDM and Mata-Oscar-Hazard. This type of football won't win you the biggest prizes consistently unless you have players who fit the style perfectly (I'd say we are 75% there) and you have a big enough squad (not a problem this year), or, as City, just have the best players. 

The defensive lapse we saw second part of the first half was mainly because Willian, Pedro and Morata tired in their press (understandable) and Barkley wasn't doing enough defensively to cover the space in front of the gap between the CB and FBs. Kanté's issue on the right side was to get the balance right between attacking and defending. He's got some work there left to do imo. Jorginho was simply sublime. What a performance and what a player he is. Not quite as good as Fabregas to ping a through-ball over the oppo defense, but he isn't far behind. He'll get plenty of assists over the season. He really is the key to all our build-up play. 

Some of the attacking combo play we saw was amazing and I thought Morata had a good game overall. Pedro worked hard and got another goal while the real heroes for me was our fullbacks. Azpi and Alonso were really good, although they looked suspect because of the lack of defensive cohesion from the team in that 20 min period. I think we'll see these kind of kinks over the next few months and if we continue to play this aggressively, most likely for the rest of the season. 

The ultimate CBs in such a system would be strong and fast, while being excellent man-to-man and with the ball. Rüdiger and Christensen are fine CB2s and CB3s but I do feel we are a long-term CB1 short. 

My ratings:

GK: Arrizabalaga 6 - bit disappointing for the first and looked slightly shaky at times. But not the disastrous performance some would have you believe

RB: Azpilicueta 7 - good balance between attacking and defending. One assist and some key defensive interventions. Stable as ever. 

RCB: Rüdiger 6 - ok with the ball in the build-up phase and generally strong in the air. Was a bit lost in the box though...

LCB: Luiz 6 - much like Rüdiger, good overall but lost concentration in the box

LB: Alonso 8* - my MotM. He plays the same role as last season seemingly with similar success. Yes - he will be tested against fast and tricky wingers but that's true for most FBs

RCM: Kanté 7 - as mentioned already I think he hasn't quite nailed the balance between attacking/defending yet but he's got so much potential in this new role

DCM: Jorginho 8 - key in everything we do with the ball and is the base of most triangles in the middle and final third. Will be a key player this season

LCM: Barkley 7 - thought he worked well and had a few good attacking moments. Still not quite there to seriously threat Kovacic but he's certainly our CM4 at the moment

RW: Pedro 7 - worked hard and played some brilliant stuff in patches. Scored a goal again. He keeps his place as RW1 for now

S: Morata 7 - much better compared to last weekend. Well-taken goal and his hold-up play is not lacking much at all. Hopefully the goal will give him a much-needed confidence boost

LW: Willian 7 - mixed amazing skills and insane press with poor defensive application in patches. No doubt he was tired... Will be interesting to see how our AMs will cope with the press. Maybe there is a reason we have 5 senior AMs, 2 senior strikers and 2 youngsters for the season... 

Subs: 

LW: Hazard 7 - Not as influential as last weekend but will be a revelation in this system. In terms of goals and assists I'd be shocked if this won't be his best season (injuries permiting of course)

LCM: Kovacic 7 - will be an amazing addition at LCM1. Great dribbling and passing skills. Can see him causing havoc between the lines as the season progresses

S: Giroud 6 - not involved enough to pass a serious comment

Goals: 

1-0 Pedro (Alonso)

2-0 Morata (Azpilicueta)

3-2 Alonso (Hazard)

 

All in all a good start I think. Key for the team moving forward will be to get Kovacic and Hazard up to speed and hopefully see some confidence return to Morata. I'd also like to see how Christensen will manage with this type of football. I'm not particularly bullish on Cahill but time will tell I suppose. 

But most importantly is it that Kanté and Jorginho finds a good defensive balance between them. Kovacic showed that he is much, much stronger than Barkley defensively and it is his recovery runs in particular that is eye-catching. 

Onwards and upwards! I'm feeling in good spirits and in a good mood. Despite all the doom and gloom and uncertainty over the summer (for us at least) I must say the club has done well to get us here. 

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Jasonb   

I don't think Sarri will drop Luiz due to his superior distribution and PL stats show he has by far the most passes in the league to date.  So that will be the risk we take in needing to outscore the opposition, IMO.

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On yesterdays game, it was sure exciting, but if we play like that every week I won't survive till the end of the season, this sort of football isn't good for the old ticker!  We might just make the top 4, if Man U keep defending the way they did today.

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kev61   

Seems like the lynch mob are out for Mourhino after today's game.It is fascinating to hear on redcafe exactly the same arguments we went through before he was shown the door.

Just watched our game in full against arsenal.It's ironic it was not that long ago we bemoaned our play in the final third as our downfall - yesterday we were sublime at times in that department at the expense of our defense.

Sarri has energised not only Hazard and Pedro but our entire attacking force - his next task is to keep us solid in defense or he will just turn into another Wenger.

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10 hours ago, PeteRobbo said:

No idea where you're going now. What has that question got to do with your previous comment?

If you didn’t like the football of a team that finished 5th and won the FA cup. 

JM must been the anti-Christ in your eyes with the brand of football played under his second coming. 

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paulw66   
23 hours ago, Bison said:

A Kante, Jorginho and Kovacic midfield is going to be really good by the looks of things.

 

 

Is it my imagination, or have you been away for a while?

Agreed, those 3 are top players. 

15 hours ago, thevelourfog said:

^ And ... *drumroll* we've played only two games. There are a lot more to come. The idea anyone is being 'overlooked' by 19th August is the kind of nonsense I'd expect of oppo fans.

If RLC doesn't force his way in this season, that's on him and I'd hold no grudges.

Well quite. 2 games in and people are talking about the need to move players out who haven't yet played. Let's wait and see what happens when the EL gets going, coupled with the domestic cup competitions. 

6 hours ago, RobertoftheGiz said:

If you didn’t like the football of a team that finished 5th and won the FA cup. 

JM must been the anti-Christ in your eyes with the brand of football played under his second coming. 

The football we played, particularly in the 2nd half of last season was horribly defensive and dull, and it cost us. 

3 cbs, 3 defensive midfielders, and 2 wing backs even against poor opposition was just criminal. 

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paulw66   

Incidentally, this game did show how teams can still use FBs to create even in flat 4. 

Alonso is playing as high up in a 4 as he was in a 5 which obviously has its plus and minus points. 

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