Three things we learned from Chelsea v. Arsenal

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LONDON — Chelsea and Arsenal played out a tight, tense 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge on Sunday as the Gunners hit the post in the first half through Aaron Ramsey but couldn’t break through.

[ MORE: Wenger, Arsenal win battle ]

Arsenal nullified the threat of Chelsea’s counter attacks for large periods of the game with the reigning champions left frustrated as David Luiz was sent off late on for a lunging tackle on Sead Kolasinac.

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Here’s a look at what we learned from an even, eventful London derby.


SANCHEZ, HAZARD RUSTY

0-0 with 25 minutes to go, Antonio Conte and Arsene Wenger both reached to the bench to unleash their best players.

Alexis Sanchez came on for Arsenal and moments later Eden Hazard arrived.

Both were on the bench as they continued their recovery to full fitness with Hazard coming off a long-term ankle injury and Sanchez perhaps recovering from a broken heart after his deadline day move to Manchester City collapsed.

Apart from a run and shot straight at Petr Cech, Hazard didn’t get involved in the final third for Chelsea as a few runs from deep barely threatened Arsenal.

Sanchez was equally non-existent as the Chilean sauntered around the left wing role and apart from one majestic back heel he gave the ball away cheaply and looked like a man who was without a preseason to his name.

Two of the biggest stars in the Premier League are yet to get up and running.


MORATA LOSES BATTLE WITH MUSTAFI

With three goals and two assists, all with his head, in the Premier League so far this season, Alvaro Morata is Chelsea’s new main man up top.

He could’ve done with emulating the Spanish international striker he has replaced at Chelsea with Diego Costa often relishing his battles against Arsenal center backs and often coming out on top.

Morata did not with Shkodran Mustafi having an exceptional game at center back (he also had a header chalked out, correctly, for offside) to deny him chances and service. Morata looked isolated up top and with Cesc Fabregas moved closer to him for the second half to try and supply him with some chances, it didn’t work.

After a very good start to life at Chelsea and his aerial ability admirable, Morata proved he still has to adjust to the rigors of the Premier League.


SOLID, SOLID ARSENAL

Much has been made of Arsenal’s defensive solidity since switching to a 3-4-3 formation and this game proved that away from home against a title contender it works.

After switching to a 3-4-3 last season, Arsenal’s expected goals conceded actually rose from 1.2 per game to 1.7 and after conceding eight goals in their opening three Premier League games this season it seemed like the 3-4-3 could be ditched.

Even though Arsenal still haven’t won a Premier League match away from home against a side that finished in the top six the previous season since January 2015 (a 2-0 victory at Man City) — with an 0-8-6 record — the 3-4-3 formation allowed them to recover well at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea launched counters.

The pace of Hector Bellerin and Sead Kolasinac helped Arsenal recover quickly when Willian and Pedro launched counters which usually pull opposition defenses apart.

Arsenal’s attacking unit wasn’t firing on all cylinders but defensively they were solid and after losing their last five games on the spin at Chelsea in the PL, a draw in a game which they controlled for large spells will do just fine.


How can Chelsea, Arsenal challenge for the title?

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There are just 24 days until the 2018/19 Premier League season kicks off.

So, now seems like a good time to continue to focus on what the big boys need to do in order to challenge for the title and the top four.

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We’ve already focused on the top two from last season and what each of Manchester City and Manchester United need to do to get better, and Tottenham and Liverpool’s quest to remain among the top four.

But what about London giants Chelsea and Arsenal? They both finished outside the top four last season and they both have new managers heading into the new campaign.

Will Maurizio Sarri and Unai Emery adapt quickly to life in England? Or will the London rivals struggle to rebuild and reach the top four as they’ll both play in the UEFA Europa League?

Below we analyze the situation for both Chelsea and Arsenal and their biggest needs for the season ahead.


Chelsea


Arsenal

Perisic, Rebic linked with moves to Man United

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Following their superb displays for Croatia at the 2018 World Cup, Ivan Perisic and Ante Rebic are being linked with moves to Manchester United via a report from the Sun.

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It’s no secret that Jose Mourinho is a big admirer of Perisic as he tried to buy the left winger from Inter Milan last summer but saw plenty of bids turned down as United missed out.

Perisic, 29, then went on to become one of Croatia’s star performers this summer as he scored three goals and grabbed two assists combined with tireless displays on the left flank. Perisic grabbed 11 goals and added nine assists last season as Inter qualified for the UEFA Champions League.

[ MORE: Alisson to Liverpool back on?

Rebic, 24, also had a fine tournament with his powerful surges forward from the right flank as the Eintracht Frankfurt star scored in the win against Argentina and went close to scoring in the World Cup final but his drive was saved by Hugo Lloris. He also committed more fouls than any other player at the tournament as he tracked back and dug deep in Croatia’s best-ever finish at a World Cup.

Do United really need these two attacking wide men?

Mourinho loves to add pace and power to his teams and they certainly fit the bill in that regard, with the likes of Juan Mata, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and even Alexis Sanchez not out-and-out wingers. The transfer values of Perisic and Rebic will have soared due to Croatia finishing the tournament as runners up with Perisic valued at around $63 million and Rebic at $57 million.

Perisic only signed a new contract at Inter last season but given United’s long-time pursuit of him, he may feel like this could be his last chance to move to the Premier League, if that’s what his heart desires. While Rebic only just arrived at Frankfurt on a permanent deal after scoring twice in their German Cup final win last season, helping them win their first trophy since 1988.

If one or both of these players arrive at Old Trafford, serious doubt will be put on the future of Martial and Rashford as neither will seriously challenge Romelu Lukaku for the central strikers role.

Man City reveal squad for US tour

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Reigning Premier League champions Manchester City have announced their squad for their U.S. tour this summer.

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Pep Guardiola is without several first team stars as City had more players at the 2018 World Cup (16) this summer than any other team on the planet.

New club-record signing Riyad Mahrez will travel Stateside though, so too will Joe Hart, Claudio Bravo, Aymeric Laporte, Leroy Sane, Bernardo Silva and Benjamin Mendy, with promising youngsters Patrick Roberts, Phil Foden and Brahim Diaz also included.

Former New York City FC star Jack Harrison will also be part of Man City’s traveling squad as he returns to American soil after starring in MLS over the past few years before his move to City and subsequent loan to Middlesbrough in England’s second-tier.

City have a busy schedule of games in the States as they kick things off on Friday against Borussia Dortmund in Chicago. They then travel to New York City and play Liverpool at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on July 25 before heading to Miami to play Bayern Munich on July 28 to round off their International Champions Cup action.

Take a look at the squad in full below.


Manchester City squad for US tour – 2018/19

Claudio Bravo
Joe Hart
Aymeric Laporte
Leroy Sane
Bernardo Silva
Benjamin Mendy
Tosin Adarabioyo
Riyad Mahrez
Patrick Roberts
Jason Denayer
Daniel Grimshaw
Oleksandr Zinchenko
Douglas Luiz
Jack Harrison
Lukas Nmecha
Phil Foden
Aro Muric
Eric Garcia
Nabil Touaizi
Brahim Diaz
Iker Pozo
Tom Dele-Bashiru
Benjamin Garre
Luke Bolton
Cameron Humphreys
Rabbi Matondo
Tyreke Wilson
Nathanael Ogbeta

Report: Liverpool in talks for Alisson

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It appears Alisson to Liverpool could be back on again.

A report from Di Marzio in Italy claims that AS Roma and Liverpool are in discussions over the transfer of Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson, with further reports from the UK stating Liverpool have offered $81 million for him.

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Their star goalkeeper, 25, was the subject of interest from Liverpool and Real Madrid before the 2018 World Cup began but Brazil’s starting goalkeeper didn’t have an outstanding tournament and Roma’s previous $100 million asking price may now have dropped.

Real may well turn their attention to Thibaut Courtois considering his recent comments that he could leave Chelsea with just a year left on his contract. As for Liverpool, their need for a new goalkeeper remains urgent following Loris Karius‘ mistakes in the UEFA Champions League final and Simon Mignolet falling out of favor.

With Karius backed by Jurgen Klopp several times over the past few months following his UCL final meltdown, Karius has continued to make mistakes in preseason games which may have accelerated Liverpool’s search for a new goalkeeper.

Although both Jack Butland and Nick Pope may well be cheaper options and have Premier League experience, Alisson is highly-regarded for his displays in Serie A and for Brazil and he is not only good with his feet but also a fine shot stopper. I mean, you have to be some goalkeeper to keep out Manchester City’s Ederson as the starter for the Brazilian national team.