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02-05-2023 | 20:40 Football
Six lessons that Arsenal can teach Chelsea on comeback
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Six lessons that Arsenal can teach Chelsea on comeback

The Goal has identified six lessons that the Premier League leading Arsenal can give mid-table Chelsea, as the latter struggles to keep a consistent form.

While at the start of the season, a match between Arsenal and Chelsea could have been seen as a vital clash in the quest for securing a Champions League spot, today the teams have a difference of 11 spots between them.

On April 2, the Blues will strive to end their run of eight games without a win and surpass Crystal Palace, who are currently in the 11th spot. In contrast, the Gunner, who still aspire to win the Premier League, will aim to maintain their title challenge by securing a win.

Frank Lampard's side is on its way to reaching new lows in their history of Premier League. In both the 2015/16 and 1995/96 campaigns, Chelsea finished with 50 points. To avoid setting a new low, they must pick up 12 points from their upcoming games against Arsenal, Bournemouth, Nottingham Forest, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Newcastle United before the end of the 2022/23 campaign. 

Arsenal have also gone through a similar rough patch in the recent past and can raise the hopes of Chelsea returning to former glories by following these steps. 

Trust your manager

Once mocked for 'trusting the process' with Mikel Arteta, Arsenal fans can now proudly revel in the success brought about by the Spaniard's appointment in 2019. Arteta has managed to establish a unique style of play for Arsenal that has caught the attention of many in the Premier League.

Chelsea also seemed to follow in Arsenal's footsteps by appointing Graham Potter as manager in September 2022, as part of Todd Boehly's youthful revolution. However, Potter's tenure was cut short after just 31 games due to the club's eccentric recruitment strategy, leaving him with the lowest points-per-game return of any Blues manager in history. With proper support, Potter could have led Chelsea to emulate Arsenal's recent success.

Recruit smart, not big

Recent recruitment strategies of Arsenal and Chelsea reflect a stark contrast. While Todd Boehly's team have spent over £600 million ($752.2m) in the last two transfer windows and have an uneven, bloated squad with a record number of players used in the Premier League this season, Arsenal have one of the most efficiently-built squads in the league with only three teams deploying fewer players than them.

Arteta's strategy of operating with a trim squad ensures that every player who comes into the starting XI knows their role in the system. They have also been smarter in their acquisitions with less expensive and less headline-grabbing signings such as Oleksandr Zinchenko, Martin Odegaard, and Aaron Ramsdale, who have turned out to be perfect fits at the Emirates Stadium. If Chelsea is to return to being Champions League regulars, they need to rein themselves in during the transfer window and adopt a more sensible approach towards recruitment.

It doesn't take long to get fans back on side

For a long time, Arsenal was criticized for lacking an enthusiastic atmosphere at the Emirates Stadium. While their fans had always been vocal and traveled in large numbers, there was some truth in the accusations that their new home often lacked a big-game feeling. However, this season has been different as the atmosphere at home games has been electric throughout the year. Their resurgent spirit has been typified by the fiery rendition of their new pre-match anthem, North London Forever. This has even helped the team, as their supporters helped them make an incredible comeback against Bournemouth, one of the greatest days in Emirates history.

In contrast, Chelsea has struggled to create such an atmosphere at Stamford Bridge, with recent matchdays being marked by boos, and the only occasion where the stadium came to life was during Real Madrid's visit.

Maybe Chelsea don't need a 20-goal striker 

Chelsea's solution to their problems seems to be signing a natural number nine, with Harry Kane and Victor Osimhen being at the top of their wish list. However, Arsenal's success this season suggests that a super prolific center-forward might not be necessary to move forward. Gabriel Jesus, who leads the line for Arsenal, has only scored nine Premier League goals this season, but his worth to the team goes beyond scoring. His ability to facilitate, press and create allows other players like Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli to shine. Chelsea has many forwards to choose from, so one of them might be capable of playing a similar role if the club is unable to sign a free-scoring striker.

Trust in the youth 

Arteta's trust in young players has been key to Arsenal's success this season, particularly for the likes of Martinelli and Saka who have impressed in the final third with a combined 28 goals and 16 assists. The Gunners have the joint-youngest squad in the Premier League this season and this has not stopped them from performing well.

On the other hand, Chelsea has received criticism for their transfer strategy, but at least most of their signings are young players who have time to develop. In order to emulate Arsenal's success, Chelsea needs to give their young players the necessary time to develop into top Premier League talents.

Use no European football to your advantage 

Chelsea's absence from European football next season will have a significant impact on the club's finances and it's a major setback for a club of their stature. However, they can try to look at it positively, just like Arsenal did in the 2021-22 season, when they missed out on a top-four finish to their local rivals, Tottenham.

Although it was disappointing at the time, in retrospect, it can be seen as a crucial period for Arsenal's transformation into a potential title contender. Without the burden of playing in continental competitions, the Gunners had the opportunity to concentrate on rebuilding the team and implementing Arteta's strategies. The young players were given more playing time and the team had more time to train, which eventually helped them to mount a strong challenge against Manchester City.

Chelsea may need to undergo a similar rebuilding process and accept that there may be a period of pain and suffering as they work towards returning to the top of English football. However, they could take advantage of their absence from European football to rebuild the team and focus on training and preparation without the pressure of midweek matches.

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