The Premier League serves up a London derby for us this Sunday. Chelsea will play host to Arsenal at Stamford Bridge and we, at Goal.com, figured it’s as good a time as any to highlight some of the similarities and differences between the two clubs.
In need of midfield reinforcements:
Both sides are lacking in central midfield. Arsenal have Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta and Abou Diaby, a strong trio to operate in there but with the Frenchman's injury issues, they often lack a midfield enforcer. Truth be told, Diaby isn’t a traditional holding midfielder anyway.
They do lack defensive cover ahead of their back four and while they have shown an interest in Yann M’Vila in the past, nothing transpired. Arsene Wenger is reportedly scouting West Ham United’s Mohamed Diame for that particular role.
|Jack Wilshere||Frank Lampard|
Meanwhile, Chelsea are perhaps in greater need of a central midfielder. Frank Lampard has been played out of position to fill in that area while David Luiz has done so as well to good effect. John Obi Mikel is far too passive in his approach in either an attacking or defensive sense. Ramires has brought drive and energy to the midfield but they do need another option in there especially since Lampard will be gone at the end of the season.
They pursued Luka Modric before the start of 2011-12 season and he would have been a good fit. Last summer they went out and splurged on Eden Hazard, Marko Marin and Oscar, when perhaps they should have set something aside for a central midfielder. Recently, they have been linked with a move for Everton’s Marouane Fellaini.
Reliance on their Spanish playmakers:
The prime creative forces in either side have unsurprisingly hailed from Spain. La Roja team-mates Juan Mata and Santi Cazorla have lit up the Premier League with their vision and intricate passing since their arrivals at their respective London clubs.
Despite the creative presence of Oscar and Hazard in Chelsea’s final third, most of the play still goes through Mata. They have often struggled in his absence and it’s no surprise that he has been directly responsible for 34 of their goals so far this season. In fact, Chelsea were only able to secure one point from the three league games in which he did not start this term.
|Juan Mata||Santi Cazorla|
Santi Cazorla has probably been even more vital for Arsenal than Mata has been for Chelsea. The Spaniard took the league by storm early on this season but has somewhat gone off the boil recently largely due to the fact that opposing teams have identified him as the main attacking threat.
He dominates their approach in the final third and Arsenal normally rely on him to create an opening. When the playmaker has been stifled, the team has inevitably struggled to create as many chances.
They are losing leaders:
Arsenal have let go of their more experienced players far too easily for nearly a decade now. It started with them parting ways with the likes of Patrick Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp and Robert Pires and continued with the departures of Thierry Henry and Gilberto Silva. More recently, the exits of Kolo Toure, Cesc Fabregas and Robin Van Persie have left the side with virtually no leaders.
Chelsea are starting to follow suit after boasting an experienced squad over the years. With John Terry suffering with injuries and Frank Lampard not featuring on a regular basis, they really only have Ashley Cole and Petr Cech who are capable of leading the side week in and week out. Furthermore, Cole and Lampard are destined to leave at the end of the season as the club have allegedly refused to offer them extensions on their contracts. However, that would result in the team losing vital experience and is a decision they could live to regret.
Their business in the transfer market is arguably the most contrasting aspect between the two sides. While Arsenal have been sighted as a selling club because of their habit of selling their best players, Chelsea often play the role of the buyers. In fact, Chelsea’s acquisition of Ashley Cole from Arsenal is a prime example.
|Demba Ba||Adrian Lopez
In the current window itself, the difference is evident. Although both teams were in dire need of a striker, only one of them has secured the services of one so far. Chelsea immediately took action and signed up Demba Ba from Newcastle United and are already reaping the benefits.
Meanwhile, Arsenal continue to dilly-dally in their search for a striker with just about ten days left in the window. Atletico Madrid’s Adrian Lopez is still a possibility if they can go back with an improved offer but they’ll have to do it soon.
Before we get to the managers, the managerial situations at either club are unusual and couldn’t be further apart from each other. While Arsene Wenger has survived nearly 8 long trophy-less years at Arsenal, Rafa Benitez was pretty much told that he would be gone at the end of the season regardless of what he achieves when he was appointed. While Wenger has occupied his position for the last 16 years, Chelsea have been through 9 managers in half that time.
As individuals, Wenger is an advocate of expansive football that’s easy on the eye while Benitez values solidarity and efficiency. While the latter has never concerned himself too much with the development of youth, and he isn’t in a position to do so now anyway, the Arsenal boss has always encouraged the development of the younger players and his sides over the years have always been relatively young.
Despite winning the Champions League last season, Chelsea went out and spent over 70 million in the summer. They knew that a fifth place finish in the league simply wasn’t good enough and they owed a lot to their good fortune for their European triumph. They wanted to dominate teams domestically and establish themselves against the best in Europe.
Although their track record of nine managers in the last eight years is a negative, it shows that they are never satisfied and want to win it all. On the other hand, even though Arsenal did spend over the summer, they didn’t manage to replace the players who left. Despite entering their eighth season without a trophy, there hasn’t been any sort of urgency to turn things around. Wenger still occupies his seat despite recently sighting Champions League qualification as a trophy.
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