Since the success of Chelsea began back in 2004, they have been considered a team with brute force, incredible aerial threat and a real 'hustle and bustle' mentality about them in midfield. However over the last 9 months Roberto Di Matteo has been attempting to change this image. He didn’t have any time to make transfers when he came into the managers position at Chelsea so instead he instilled the squad with a real fight and determination about them that not even the great Barcelona could match, this was key to their success in Europe last season.
However this season, Di Matteo has been able to bring in players and with these additions Chelsea no longer seem a team of such physical presence but more a team that will keep possession and play through the middle of teams. This particular tactic has been questioned so far claiming that a simple 10 men behind the ball strategy could be enough to stifle Chelsea eventually. However Chelsea went into the game against fierce rivals and now relatively similar playing style Arsenal top of the league and this was their first big test.
From the first whistle Chelsea's ability to pick the ball up in midfield and then either run with it at pace, or move it quickly between players was putting Arsenal under pressure and looking incredibly dangerous. While Arsenal themselves were putting Chelsea under pressure in the same vein, Chelsea's back four and Terry in particular looked calm and incredibly focused. Less could be said for Arsenals back four and when Arsenal conceded a free kick from an interchange between Hazard and Oscar there was a lack of organisation in the defence which led to David Luiz having 2 or 3 yards of clear space, however the ball went over the head of Luiz but landed onto the foot of Fernando Torres who scored a very impressive yet speculative right foot volley. The absence of Diaby who went off injured unfortunately cost Arsenal dearly in this situation you have to feel.
Chelsea then looked to take control of the game and since they had already silenced the Emirates stadium, they looked to play the game at their own pace and make Arsenal chase the ball and tire. But an ever impressive Arsenal team this season did very well to pull one back just before the half time whistle after a great run down the wing by Chamberlain, good cutback and a good turn and shot by Gervinho.
When the second half began it was much of the same by Chelsea, and although they lack the height they had a few years ago and the strength in midfield they managed to snatch another set piece goal after a teasing ball in by the ever excellent Juan Mata eluded Laurent Koscielny who didn’t exactly have his best of games and then found its way into the corner. This seemed to understandably deflate Arsenal and although they did create two great chances late on in the game. Chelsea's mix of energy and great ability to keep possession in midfield and tenacity in defence enabled to walk out of their first big test away at the previously unbeaten Arsenal with 3 points. A very impressive and solid display from Chelsea and Arsenal may feel that on another day, with more concentration they could of walked away with 3 points which in honesty wouldn’t be far wrong. I do feel that if Chelsea can keep players fit, and Torres on form the top 2 beckons for them.