Arsenal picked up an unexpected 1-0 win tonight against Chelsea thanks to a goal from Emile Smith Rowe. The victory puts us ahead of Everton and just one point behind Tottenham, but both clubs have played fewer games.
Mikel Arteta will surely be delighted with the effort his players put in. It was arguably our most disciplined performance of the season, but sadly, it’s just too little too late.
Here’s five things we learned from tonight’s win…
Three at the back
We all knew Arteta would change something tonight but not many people expected to see him go with a back three. Rob Holding, Pablo Mari and Gabriel Magalhaes all started at the back, and they were all brilliant.
Arteta had a lot of success with this system last season. Our offensive play takes a big hit when we play like we did today but in away games against big sides, this may well be our blueprint until we’re ready to go toe-to-toe against them.
Where was this press last week?
Arsenal’s high press tonight was the reason we scored. We put Kurt Zouma under a ton of pressure and did the same to Jorginho when he received the ball. The Italian panicked and gifted us the lead in the first half.
The sad thing is, Arsenal did none of that against Villarreal last week. Unai Emery’s man were allowed all the time in the world, and that made things incredibly easy for them at the Emirates.
If Arsenal had pressed last week like we did today, the result could well have been different. Sadly, we can only look back and regret now.
The streak ends
The win at Stamford Bridge tonight is Arsenal’s first there since Robin van Persie fired us to a 5-3 victory almost 10 years ago. We’ve also completed the double against Chelsea this term – our first since the 2003/04 campaign.
As much as we want to forget this season, we should be happy about beating Manchester United and Chelsea away from home after years of pain and suffering there. It’s only a tiny positive in an otherwise terrible campaign, but it’s still something to build on.
Give Elneny a new deal
Sky Sports handed Mohamed Elneny the man of the match award and he completely deserves it. The Egyptian receives unnecessary criticism for no real fault of his, but his performances this season have been absolutely brilliant.
Arsenal needs a huge overhaul this summer but Elneny is a player Arteta should keep. He was incredible against Manchester United at Old Trafford earlier this season and he was brilliant again tonight.
Elneny has exceeded everybody’s expectations this season and he deserves an extension on his current contract which is set to end next year.
Leno saves the day again
Bernd Leno has received a ton of criticism this season. Yes, he has made his fair share of mistakes, but many people have completely ignored the fact that he is still a sensational goalkeeper.
The German made four crucial saves tonight and that kept us in the game. There has been a lot of speculation in the media about his future at the club, but if he can perform like he did today, there’s no need for change.