Jamie Carragher believes that Arsenal defended better against Chelsea without Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil in the team.
The game on Sunday was one of the rare occasions where neither Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil started in a big game for Arsenal. Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck played instead and both put in a hard-working, disciplined shift that contributed to the Gunners’ strong defence on the day.
Jamie Carragher felt that the exclusion of Ozil and Alexis made a huge difference to Arsenal’s defending, even though it meant losing quality going forward. “A proper, disciplined, away performance,” Carragher said, reports the Express.
“It’s about time. A big thing that we mentioned is the midfield, talking about Ramsey and Xhaka, but a big difference is there is no Ozil and no Alexis Sanchez. Yes, they’re maybe better than these two going forward, but these two in Iwobi and Welbeck have been so disciplined.
“They’ve done their job defensively as a tight midfield, stopping Chelsea going through the middle and forcing them wide to the wing-backs.” The defensive efforts of Alexis and Ozil have been criticised in the past.
Alexis is famed for his work-rate but isn’t the most disciplined when it comes to holding shape and tracking back. He prefers to press instead. Ozil, on the other hand, is famed for being lazy and not putting shift in, even though he holds shape pretty well and is also a good presser.
While the pair were poor against Liverpool, it should be noted that both of them started the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City and the final against Chelsea last season, where Arsenal had few issues defensively, I feel.
So while Iwobi and Welbeck do deserve praise, it might be too simplistic to say that Arsenal’s defending improved just because Alexis and Ozil weren’t there, in my opinion.