Arsenal Vs Chelsea: Recap, highlights and analysis

BEIJING, CHINA - JULY 22: Michy Batshuayi of Chelsea celebrates after scoring during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Arsenal FC and Chelsea FC at Birds Nest on July 22, 2017 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Yifan Ding/Getty Images )
BEIJING, CHINA - JULY 22: Michy Batshuayi of Chelsea celebrates after scoring during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Arsenal FC and Chelsea FC at Birds Nest on July 22, 2017 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Yifan Ding/Getty Images ) /

Arsenal finalise their pre-season tour of China on Saturday when they face Chelsea in Beijing. Here is the full recap, all the highlights and analysis from the 3-0 loss.

What a terrible performance that was! While pre-season friendlies must always be taken with a rather hefty pinch of salt, there were few positives to be drawn from Chelsea’s dismantling of Arsenal. Defensively, Arsene Wenger’s side were ripped apart, failing to offer any awareness or understanding of their respective roles in the team, were unable to press in any capacity, providing the Chelsea players with far too much time and space, even in the final third, and created very little, other than when they were able to recover possession high up the pitch thanks to a loose touch or misplaced pass.

Related Story: Arsenal: 30 Greatest Players In History

Arsenal opened the first-half in extremely sluggish fashion. There were huge gaps in midfield, with neither Granit Xhaka nor Aaron Ramsey able to fill in the spaces, lacking positional awareness or discipline, Victor Moses terrorised young Cohen Bramall down the Chelsea right flank, while Ainsley Maitland-Niles continued to look lost at centre-half, including making one extremely loose pass which Willian should have scored from.

Chelsea pressed high up the pitch, forcing the Arsenal players into simple mistakes, with a number of misplaced passes stalling any semblance of attacking momentum. Cesc Fabregas had time and space to dictate the game, showing a lovely range of passing with great tempo and intention, and Pedro and Willian continued to buzz around Batshuayi, finding those pockets of space in the inside channel where Arsenal were unable to pick them up.

Opportunities were also few and far between at the other end. While Alex Iwobi was busy and industrious, making surging runs off of the ball, roaming throughout the pitch, the lack of quality and cutting edge in the final third failed to break down a well-organised Chelsea defence. The Gunners’ best opportunity of the opening quarter fell to Aaron Ramsey, who was wonderfully found by Mesut Ozil with a pacy, sliding pass that split the Chelsea centre-halves, but the Welshman could only poke past the post with a stretched effort.

A moment that epitomised Arsenal’s passive first-half display more than any other came shortly after the half hour mark. A short corner from Chelsea, which Arsenal were completely unaware of, resulted in Michy Batshuayi stabbing home from the edge of the six-yard box, converting a low cross. The striker, though, was adjudged to be offside, perhaps wrongly. But it was shocking defending, with a lack of understanding, no pressure on the ball and lapses in concentration from everyone.

More from Pain in the Arsenal

The early warning signs were vindicated as the first half drew to a close. The time and space that Chelsea enjoyed in front of the Arsenal defence was criminal, and it came back to bite them. Chelsea carved open their opponents with ease, creating chance after chance, and eventually took the lead thanks to a nice, curled shot from Willian. After Per Mertesacker dived in on Michy Batshuayi, being rolled in the process, Willian was released down the centre, with only Nacho Monreal to beat. The Spaniard stepped off Willian, allowing him to cut inside and fire the shot off the far post and past David Ospina.

And then, a matter of moments later, Chelsea doubled their lead. Cohen Bramall, who struggled greatly throughout the 45 minutes he spent on the pitch, lost the ball with a loose touch to N’Golo Kante, who was able to wriggle into a little bit of space in the midfield before finding Michy Batshuayi with an accurate pass into his feet. Batshuayi, who was again offered too much space on the edge of the penalty area by Per Mertesacker, cut inside and, in very similar fashion to Willian, opened his body out and curled a shot into the far corner, but this time off of his left flank and into the right-hand corner of the goal.

Arsenal needed to change their approach. They needed to wake up; they needed to track runners defensively; they needed to communicate clearly with one another, working in cohesion together; they needed to be positionally disciplined and aware; they needed to press Chelsea, not allowing time and space, especially in the final third; they needed to get their act together.

They did none of those things.

Within four minutes of the restart, Chelsea had added a third. Cesc Fabregas, who was imperious throughout, sprayed a long pass to Marcos Alonso to open up the play. The Spaniard then cut inside Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain far too easily, who was sent flying in the process, before pulling a pass back for Batshuayi who thumped a thunderous strike into the roof of the net.

As the second half progressed and a raft of changes were made, with both teams turning to their younger players, the game petered out, as is the norm with pre-season games. However, while the experience for the young players is beneficial for their development, it was the decimation of the more senior line-up, especially in the first half, that is the more telling conclusion to be drawn.

Next: Arsenal: Predicted FIFA 18 player ratings

And that is not a good one for Arsenal and Wenger. They were lethargic and lazy. They looked tired, lacking any energy, intensity or impetus to their play, particularly in defensive areas, and were ripped apart by a Chelsea team that hadn’t played a game since the FA Cup final loss. It was a shambles and proves that Wenger has much work to do before the start of the season.