Commentary

How Chelsea can attack Arsenal

The Blues will be pressing high, and the Gunners better be ready

Updated: October 28, 2011, 2:24 PM ET
By Albert Larcada | ESPN Insider
Fernando TorresIan Kington/AFP/Getty ImagesFernando Torres should have space on through balls and set pieces against Arsenal.

London rivals Chelsea and Arsenal will meet for the 176th time Saturday (7:30 a.m. ET, ESPN2 and WatchESPN). The two traditional powers have been somewhat upstaged recently by the Manchester squads, but make no mistake, any time these two clubs get together the stakes are high. It has been 10 years since either club has finished outside the top 4 in the Premier League.

This season Arsenal has been terrible on the road, picking up one point with a minus-8 goal differential in four league matches. The Gunners' major issue has been on defense, where they have allowed an average of 3.5 goals per match away from the Emirates. Let's take a look at a few places where Arsenal's defense is failing.

Arsenal has always played with an attacking style. This season it has attempted and completed the third-most passes in the EPL coming off a year in which it attempted and completed the most. You would think Arsenal would be particularly vulnerable to quick-strike counter attacks, as it generally pushes a lot of players forward to maintain possession. However, that is not the case. Arsenal has not allowed a fast-break goal this season and allowed just two all of last season. For reference, other big name squads Manchester United and Chelsea have each given up four fast-break goals since last season.

Albert Larcada is an Analytics Specialist in ESPN's Stats & Information group. Among other analytics projects, he maintains, advances and writes about ESPN's Soccer Power Index (SPI) algorithm.