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Talking Tactics

Arsenal need a fast start to beat Chelsea

Adrian Clarke 23 Dec 2020
Premier League - Arsenal v West Ham United

Adrian Clarke says Mikel Arteta must get his players to end their poor recent first-half performances

Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points in Matchweek 15.

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Mikel Arteta has a number of issues to resolve at Arsenal but getting them to start matches better will be among his main priorities ahead of facing Chelsea.

Since the beginning of the season Arsenal have scored only five first-half goals.

Alexandre Lacazette was their last player to score in the opening 45 minutes, in a 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on 28 September.

Of the three players who have scored for Arsenal before half-time, Lacazette is the only one whose effort did not come from a set-piece or a penalty.

Arsenal in first half compared
2020/21 Arsenal PL rank
Matches leading 1 19th=
Matches trailing 7 20th
Goals for 5 19th=
Goals against 12 19th
Points if match ended at HT 9 19th

Arsenal have gone into the break ahead only once this season, on the opening weekend at Fulham.

Another sluggish start on Boxing Day and they will be punished by Chelsea, who are strong finishers, scoring 20 second-half goals, the most in the division.

Improve going forward

Arsenal must also sharpen up their finishing and improve their creativity.

They are ranked 16th for chances created and have spurned too many of the few opportunities they have mustered.

Arsenal have actually made the same number of key passes from open play, 93, as Southampton, and three more than Tottenham Hotspur.

And their 14 big chances created are one more than Leicester City. But they have lacked the potency of those at the top.

Arsenal v top six 
Club Chances created Goals Conv. rate
Liverpool 152 36 22.9%
Leicester 110 26 24.1%
Man Utd 148 28 21.1%
Everton 126 25 21.2%
Chelsea 145 29 21.0%
Spurs 112 25 21.4%
Arsenal 105 12 10.9%

Arsenal's shot-conversion rate stands at a low 10.9 per cent, with all of the current top six exceeding 21 per cent.

Defender Gabriel, with 25 per cent, and Lacazette, with 21.4 per cent, are the only Arsenal players to match that ratio as individuals.

It is no coincidence the leading six sides all boast the strongest conversion rates in the Premier League.

Back to basics

With confidence low, Arteta has plenty to ponder ahead of Saturday's demanding test.

Arsenal may adopt a more back-to-basics approach and play with a higher intensity to try to unsettle Chelsea.

In this fixture last season Arsenal took the lead after 13 minutes.

Although Chelsea came back to win 2-1 in that match, Arteta will be hoping his side can make a similarly fast start again.

Tomorrow: Cancelo giving Man City an added dimension

Also in this series

Part 1: Can Wolves strike the right balance against Spurs?
Part 2: Can on-song Maddison outshine Fernandes?

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