How Unai Emery may counter Chelsea and why Sarri-ball has not been fun to watch

How Unai Emery may counter Chelsea and why Sarri-ball has not been fun to watch

Another weekend, another London derby. This time Arsenal host Chelsea with both teams going through, to use modern football parlance, a difficult moment.

Arsenal aren’t quite clicking, Chelsea are clicking, or certainly passing, too much. Maurizio Sarri’s style of football doesn’t appear to be as effective as it was at the start of the season while Unai Emery’s Arsenal feel like a bit of a mish-mash of styles, as though they are a club stuck in transition. 

Both managers need to find a way to win. Where are the weaknesses?

Why Emery’s 3-4-3 doesn’t quite work

A big problem for Arsenal is that the team has become one composed of two separate sections: attack and defence. Emery is at the beginnings of his revolution so might be forgiven for being short of the kind of player he’d like but at the moment, it all feels a bit makeshift.

In Emery’s 3-4-3, three centre-backs are protected by two very deep sitting defensive midfielders, with passing focused down the wings. The team is quite stretched vertically (as opposed to players being squashed closer together over a wider distance, like Man City) which should, in theory, allow the ball to go from defence to attack very quickly.

Arsenal have for many years been a team who control possession by dominating in midfield but in this shape they lose numerical superiority in the middle of the pitch. In this 3-4-3 system, at least one of the centre-backs needs to operate as either a ball-playing defender (like David Luiz does for Chelsea) and spray passes from a deep position, or be able to carry the ball into midfield.

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