Analysis: How Chelsea's wing-back's overran Arsenal
(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

For all the critics of Arsenal following their 2-0 defeat to London rivals Chelsea, there was an equal number, if not more so, of plaudits praising Thomas Tuchel's tactics.

Ever since he arrived at the West London side in January, he has endeavoured to make use of the exceptional talent on display throughout the squad.

One position where that has been evidenced the most, however, is through the ingenious utilisation of wing-backs, not dissimilar from the system a certain Antonio Conte used when he won the league with the Blues in 2016/17.

Never has that particular part of the 3-4-3 formation been highlighted quite so much before as it was during the demolition on Sunday afternoon. Here's an in-depth look at how wing-backs, and the wider team in general, tore the Gunners apart...

Stretching The Attack

Time and time again at the Emirates Stadium there were moans and groans as Reece James and Marcos Alonso found themselves in acres of space down Arsenal's flanks.

Hindsight was Mikel Arteta's greatest enemy by the end of the 90 minutes, as many were left wondering why he hadn't attempted to match the opposition's formation, or at least shown some effort to thwart the energetic wing-backs.

A pattern emerged within the first 10 minutes of how virtually every single Chelsea attack would function, and it started from the very front, where the first of three phases began.

Phase One

In Phase One, Romelu Lukaku would push forward, with his back to goal, enabling himself to be open to passes, forcing both Pablo Mari and Rob Holding to put pressure on him.

The 28-year-old would then, with his tenacity and strength, hold up the ball while Blue shirts came rushing forwards to offer assistance.

This assistance came in the form of Mason Mount and Kai Havertz, who would make darting runs into the middle, towards the Belgian striker, giving him options to pass out to.

Phase Two

Next, in Phase Two, Kieran Tierney and Cedric Soares, forced to attend to the runs of Mount and Havertz, would leave space on their respective wings in order to help out their centre backs.

Meanwhile, Granit Xhaka and Albert Sambi Lokonga were occupied by Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic, who were also making threatening moves by supporting the forward line.

Phase Three

Finally, in Phase Three, James and Alonso would push forward in behind the Arsenal defence, where one of a multitude of midfield options could find them with a relatively simple ball over the top.

All that was left to do was for one of the two wing-backs to fire a pinpoint cross into the box where a certain prolific striker would be waiting to knock it past Bernd Leno.

The Stats To Prove It

This 'rinse and repeat' formula worked exceptionally, with James and Alonso making five and four key passes respectively, more than any other Arsenal player and an astonishing 50% of the total key passes by the away side when combined together.

Evidently, this system may not work s effectively against an opposition who match the Blues player for player, but with the large majority of teams playing with four at the back, it certainly appears to be a method of surefire success against most.

It's also worth mentioning the flexibility of the system in the fact the wing-backs can also revert into a defensively solid back five formation.

This was done on multiple occasions when the Blues were temporarily under the cosh, shown in the fact Reece James made the most tackles of any Chelsea player (3) and Marcos Alonso made more interceptions than anyone else on the pitch (4).

The Spaniard also made an impressive three clearances and, top of the excellent performance from both, neither made a single foul at any point. 

Add to that the fact James now appears to have an eye for goal and Alonso is a free kick master and, well, it's hard to see how they can be stopped.

VAVEL Logo