Ranking Chelsea's 5 best players against Arsenal | Pre-season 2022-23
Dubbed a pre-season friendly, the game saw both sides field strong lineups, which added an edge to the clash.
Thomas Tuchel's side have added much-needed reinforcements following the departures of key defenders Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger. They signed centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli and winger Raheem Sterling from Manchester City to bolster their ranks. Meanwhile, Conor Gallagher, too, has returned from his loan spell at Crystal Palace.
The pre-season provided Tuchel with the ideal opportunity to test out new tactics with his players.
Chelsea began the game aggressively, with the intent to impose themselves physically. Tackles flew in and they pressed high up the pitch in an attempt to push the Gunners deep into their own half. However, in doing so, they were often left exposed at the back.
Playing with fire soon proved expensive for the Blues as they conceded early in the game. They tried to clear the ball up the field, but it was intercepted and played into Gabriel Jesus' path. The Brazilian did well to stay onside and remained calm, chipping the onrushing Edouard Mendy to make it 1-0 to Arsenal.
Conceding a goal seemed to wake Chelsea up as they played their way back into the game, displaying encouraging patterns of passing. However, they were met with a reinvigorated Gunners side that played with intensity.
Sterling and Reece James combined well on the right flank to create a few passing moves to advance the ball forward for the Blues. Jorginho played some composed passes at the heart of midfield to help his side.
However, they fell further behind midway through the second half. Gabriel Martinelli found himself in space near the box and played the ball into Martin Odegaard's feet inside the box. The Norwegian cushioned the ball and finished coolly into the bottom corner to make it 2-0.
Chelsea came extremely close to finding a way back into the game just before half-time. Mason Mount attempted a venomous effort from inside the box that clattered the left upright and bounced out. It was the Blues' best chance of the half as the sides headed in for the interval.
The Blues began the second half keeping the ball for longer spells of time. They were also successful in slowing the tempo of the game down to a comfortable pace, allowing them to gain control. This allowed Chelsea to string together attacking moves from either flank.
However, they were unable to keep Arsenal at bay for long as they conceded a third goal shortly after the hour-mark. Edouard Mendy did well to deny shots from Martinelli and Xhaka, but could not prevent Bukayo Saka from scoring a tap-in from close range to make it 3-0.
Thomas Tuchel attempted to steady the ship by making a host of changes. He made a total of 10 changes during the course of the game. Tuchel also handed a much-awaited debut to Kalidou Koulibaly, who added much-needed experience to the Blues' backline.
Despite looking better in the second half, Chelsea failed to threaten Arsenal's goal whatsoever. They did concede a late fourth goal, though. Albert Sambi Lokonga headed in at the far post from Cedric's cross to add the icing on the cake.
It was a forgettable outing for Chelsea. Despite the loss, some players put in encouraging performances. That said, here are Chelsea's top five players from the game.
#5 Mason Mount
Mount came closest to getting onto the scoresheet for Chelsea. His effort late in the first half rattled the upright and was inches away from going the other side of the post.
Apart from that, he was one of the few Blues players who looked like he was willing to take risks to make things happen. He attempted shots from long-range, drove forward with the ball, and looked sharp overall. If his pre-season form is anything to go by, Mount looks set to have a good season.
#4 Reece James
James has slowly but surely established himself as one of the most important players in Tuchel's Chelsea. His ability to drive forward and attack when needed, whilst being committed to defensive positioning, makes him an invaluable asset to have.
The Englishman set the tone for his side with some hard tackles early in the game. He did lose out on pace to Saka and Martinelli on a few occasions, but positioned himself well on multiple occasions, helping him win duels.
A Chelsea midfield without their Italian maestro would be incomplete. Jorginho was the glue for the Blues on Saturday. His passing and movement helped them navigate through a minefield of Arsenal players and progress the ball.
Jorginho is press-resistant, one of the rarer traits among central midfielders nowadays. He also leads by example and puts in an incredible work-rate on a regular basis.
#2 Kalidou Koulibaly
Despite coming on midway through the second half, Koulibaly added some much-needed composure and steel to Chelsea's backline. His physical presence, aerial ability and pace will prove crucial for the Blues going forward.
Koulibaly also made some crucial blocks and helped organize Chelsea's defense that looked hapless against the Gunners' pacey forwards.
#1 Edouard Mendy
The custodian kept his side in the game single-handedly on several occasions. He used his reach and athleticism to make some brilliant saves to deny Arsenal. However, he was left stranded in the no-man's land on several occasions owing to errors from his teammates.
Mendy was unlucky to concede four goals. But as the season progresses and Tuchel finds his best XI, he can be expected to hit top form soon.