Chelsea – Arsenal: Second Half Explosion Powers Chelsea To The Europa League Title (1-4)
For forty-eight minutes, the Europa League Final was a fairly dull affair, with both Chelsea and Arsenal’s pressing games suffocating each other’s buildup. Then, Giroud scored and the floodgates crashed open, allowing Chelsea to capture the Europa League trophy by the half hour mark.
Tactical analysis and match report by Om Arvind.
Judging causality in football over the course of several months – let alone one game – can be difficult. There are a multitude of factors that could affect a result beyond a manager’s choices and the inherent quality of their players; weather, injuries, form, luck, etc. Yet, it is common for fans and pundits to draw huge conclusions from one high-profile game and let the result completely alter their perceptions of an entire season.
Such a reality placed immense pressure on Maurizio Sarri and Unai Emery to finish 2018/19 strong by winning the Europa League. They, more than anyone, were likely aware that a loss would drastically redefine the narrative of their first year in England. Win, and suddenly they had orchestrated a brilliant season. Lose, and suddenly they were flops that deserved to be sacked.
The truth on both manager’s first seasons lies, of course, somewhere in between. Sarri has done well to push a squad with many mediocre elements to third in the league table. Simultaneously, he has also proven to be overly rigid with his philosophy and has failed to adapt when opposing teams have adequately countered his circuit-based form of buildup. Emery has also struggled with his buildup – which has decreased Arsenal’s efficacy on the ball in comparison to the Wenger era – while developing a pressing system much stronger than . . .