The fall out from Arsenal - It's important to be realistic with the final on the horizon.

Having had to miss the game due to work commitments last night I was more than surprised to see the wave of negativity towards Antonio ...

Having had to miss the game due to work commitments last night I was more than surprised to see the wave of negativity towards Antonio Conte after the game and call for some perspective as we are only half-way through the semi-final tie. 

Let me start by saying that I have called for Antonio Conte to attack Arsenal for two weeks running based on the two reasons. Firstly, because we are better going forward in a 3-4-3 formation and secondly, because of the injury problems they have with Laurent Koscielny, their best defender missing both games. It didn't happen which I was disappointed about, but we move on. 

Watching the full game back this afternoon and seeing different things with a clear mind it was clear that I was wrong based on the way Arsenal approached the game - on both occasions and I will explain why.

Arsene Wenger came here last night with a game plan to keep things as tight as possible, to squeeze the space in between the lines of his defence and midfield looking to negate any space Chelsea could exploit. Without the ball the ten Arsenal outfield players dropped back into their defensive shape behind the ball which made life difficult for us. This led to a dull and dreary opening ten minutes of the game.

Arsenal’s three centre-backs were being supported by their wing-backs who played considerably deeper than at The Emirates a week ago, with their two holding midfielders also playing deep with little attempts to press forward leaving their attacking play to their front three who, again without the ball, dropped into their defensive shape.

In a way you must credit Arsene Wenger for the way he set his side up because it forced the hand of Antonio Conte. If we were to start in a 3-4-3 formation to match the formation of Arsenal, we would leave ourselves slightly open in front of our back four. You would argue that the Danny Drinkwater/N’Golo Kante combination would start in the midfield with Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso playing either side. Like that of Arsenal, we would have to then rely on our attacking front three to create our chances. It would have created a complete stalemate but arguably, left Chelsea vulnerable to the counter-attack.

 Yes, the same could be said of Arsenal but the way they set their stall out, they came here to defend in numbers but force us to keep one of our midfielders deep on the cover always with the three players up top. We would have adopted that set-up to attack with a different mindset which would have been dangerous.

Overall if you think about the chances created and missed, if we had taken one or two of them it would have been a successful night for us. Cesc Fabregas should have scored or at least headed the ball square to Toni Rudiger unmarked in the box to make it 1-0 at half-time and Andreas Christensen is guilty of missing two close-range headers to have made it at least two or three by full-time.

It’s clear we created far more than Arsenal, have more than enough chances to win the game compared to the visitors so you have to admit that Antonio Conte made the right call with his team selection and tactical formation, so I cannot understand the wave of negativity afterwards if I am honest. Yes, it’s frustrating but again it’s down to players taking their chances which has been our Achilles heel for most of the season so far.

The Emirates in two weeks’ time will be a very different story and Arsenal will have to come out and attack us. Let’s hope on that night, Antonio Conte and his players deliver the result we should have had last night. 

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