The major theme that ran through Arsenal’s FA Cup exit at the hands of Nottingham Forest, and indeed their season, has been their inability to defend. Their Premier League campaign and FA Cup failure has seen poor defending hinder them, and they have been made to pay in both competitions.
Against Forest, they conceded four times, with two goals coming from the penalty spot, while they were ridiculed for the first goal they let in as they tried to utilise a high line from a free-kick, only to realise that their two-man wall was deeper than their defensive line, playing the scorer onside.
In the league, they have all too often been cut open with ease, either on the flanks or in the middle, and they seem unable to defend well for 90 minutes. Against Chelsea, this cannot be allowed to happen.
The likes of Eden Hazard, Willian, Pedro and Alvaro Morata will have a field day against Arsenal if they defend in the same way they did against Forest. Arsene Wenger must therefore look to prioritise defending in their first-leg, with a game at the Emirates one they are far more likely to win, which will help them to triumph in the tie as long as they do not leave themselves too much to do following the first-leg.
Wenger may be best off using a formation with three centre-halves to try to ensure Petr Cech’s goal is well covered then, while the wing-backs will give Chelsea problems going forward, they can also tuck in when Chelsea are on the ball.
Arsenal are a side that can attack, there is no doubt about that. However, they have been so suspect in defence for some time, and if Wenger allows Wednesday’s game to fall into the same bracket of defensive ineptitude, then they may be out of the tie before the second-leg has even started.