It has been much debate between rival fans over the last few months after Arsenal finished the season stronger, who has the better squad: Arsenal or Chelsea?
The simple answer would be Chelsea, because they won the league. But when Chelsea encountered some injuries their form dropped off and Arsenal became the team to beat. The Gunners had to deal with extensive injuries in the first half of the season leaving Arsene Wenger and many fans believing that Arsenal could win the league with better fortune in the medical room. So let’s forget about injuries and just take a look at the players both team have and who wins.
Both teams normally play a 4-2-3-1 formation so I’ve decided to look at each of the positions in that formation and compare both clubs three best options.
Goalkeepers: Petr Cech, David Ospina, Damian Martinez vs. Thibaut Courtois, Asmir Begovic, Jamaal Blackman
This is obviously an area where Chelsea excel, managing to sell a player of Cech’s quality to Arsenal and it not effecting your first eleven shows how good their options are. Courtois is slightly ahead of Cech whilst Begovic and Ospina are probably of a similar level with the former more proven in the Premier League. Martinez has a lot of potential but for now it is untapped.
Arsenal 0-1 Chelsea
Right Back: Hector Bellerin, Mathieu Debuchy and Calum Chambers vs. Branislav Ivanovic, Cesar Azpilicueta, 3rd Option?
Chelsea win this area again in my opinion. Arsenal have two quality options in Bellerin and Debuchy, but for now, Ivanovic and Azpilicueta are of a higher quality.
Arsenal 0-2 Chelsea
Right Centre Back: Per Mertesacker, Gabriel Paulista, Calum Chambers vs. John Terry, Kurt Zouma, Branislav Ivanovic
Terry gives Chelsea the edge here. Whilst he might not have long left at the highest level, he was a huge reason as to why Mourinho’s men won the league last season. Zouma looks a good player, whilst Gabriel will mainly cover on the left side of defence. Chambers has potential but he has a long way to go yet.
Arsenal 0-3 Chelsea
Left Centre Back: Laurent Koscielny, Gabriel Paulista, Nacho Monreal vs. Gary Cahill, Kurt Zouma, John Terry
Arsenal are the narrow winners here. With three different options in that LCB role, the Gunners are well stocked for a title charge. Cahill is good, but Koscielny is world class for me. Gabriel and Zouma both have a lot of potential and Monreal has proven himself as a very good option in there. Arsenal have more proven depth in the heart of the defence for me.
Arsenal 1-3 Chelsea
Left Back: Nacho Monreal, Kieran Gibbs, Hector Bellerin vs. Cesar Azpilicueta, new signing, 3rd option
Azpilcueta is the best left back here, but after the sale of Filipe Luis, Chelsea currently have no real back up for the Spaniard. Arsenal have three more than capable players in this position and that means I see this area as about equal – as I expect a more than capable replacement for Luis to be signed imminently.
Arsenal 1-3 Chelsea
Defensive Midfield: Francis Coquelin, Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Flamini vs. Nemanja Matic, Jon Obi-Mkiel, Ramires
Despite Coquelin’s showing so far in 2015 – Chelsea win this area for me. Matic is world class and Coquelin needs to prove himself for a full season to be considered at a similar level to the Serbian. Whilst Mikel is far from amazing, he’s a more natural defensive midfielder than Arteta and more talented than Flamini. Arsenal are rumoured to still be in the market for a player in this area of the squad.
Arsenal 1-4 Chelsea
Central Midfield: Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere vs. Cesc Fabregas, Ramires, Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Cazorla and Fabregas is an extremely close battle. When both are on form they are almost untouchable. Cazorla’s ball retention skills make him a quality option in the deep midfield role – as he showed on several occasions last season. Fabregas’ vision rivals Ozil for the best in the league. In Ramsey and Wilshere though, I feel Arsenal have much more quality in depth in this position. Ramires hasn’t looked great under Mourinho and Loftus-Cheek is still raw.
Arsenal 2-4 Chelsea
Attacking Midfied: Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere vs. Oscar, Cesc Fabregas, Willian
Both teams have enormous quality in this area, but I think the Gunners just about triumph here. Ozil, Cazorla, Wilshere, Ramsey, Rosicky – just a few of the quality options Arsenal have in this role. In Oscar, Fabregas and Willian though, Chelsea’s attacking midfield options are only behind Arsenal’s in the whole of the Premier League. Between the two sides, there is a huge amount of creativity.
Arsenal 3-4 Chelsea
Right Wing: Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck vs. Willian, Juan Cuadrado, Victor Moses
I think Arsenal edge Chelsea on the right wing. Willian is good, but not as Premier League proven as Walcott, whilst Cuadrado and Moses have done nothing to prove themselves as title winning quality players yet. Ramsey and Welbeck can both play here when the formation suits and the duo both offer equally effective but different styles on that wing.
Arsenal 4-4 Chelsea
Left Wing: Alexis Sanchez, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere vs. Eden Hazard, Willian, Bertrand Traore
Perhaps both teams best players occupy this left wing role, Alexis and Hazard. The duo are rightly considered amongst the best in the Premier League. I think Arsenal have more depth in this position though, it’s not just Chamberlain and Wilshere who can play here, but the likes of Gnabry, Welbeck, Ramsey and Cazorla are also capable. Overall this position is about equal for me.
Arsenal 4-4 Chelsea
Striker: Olivier Giroud, Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott vs. Diego Costa, Falcao, and Loic Remy
This is obviously an area where Chelsea win. Costa is comfortably the best striker out of both squads and if Falcao finds his top form then he is also ahead of Giroud. If Arsenal can add someone of Benzema’s calibre to their strikeforce then they would be on par.
Arsenal 4-5 Chelsea
Combined XI (4-2-3-1): Courtois; Bellerin, Terry, Koscielny, Azpilicueta; Matic, Cazorla; Sanchez, Ozil, Hazard; Costa – (Arsenal 5-6 Chelsea)
Combined 21 man squad: Courtois, Cech, Bellerin, Ivanovic, Terry, Koscielny, Cahill, Monreal, Azpilicueta, Matic, Ramsey, Wilshere, Cazorla, Fabregas, Ozil, Oscar, Hazard, Sanchez, Walcott, Giroud, Costa (Arsenal 11-10 Chelsea)
As you can see from my analysis I’m often not sure on the 3rd option in many of the position for Chelsea. This is because I either don’t know their squad as deeply as perhaps a Chelsea fan, or they actually don’t have depth there. They certainly don’t have as many recognised first team players in those roles that’s for sure.
Overall Chelsea’s first eleven looks marginally stronger, whilst the Gunners have the edge in squad depth. Arsenal have the better midfield, especially in depth – with Chelsea having more leaders and quality in decisive areas like defensive midfield and up front.
As things stand, Chelsea are title favourites. But as we can see from this analysis, if they have a few injuries and Arsenal may one or two more signings – then the title favourites will be up for some debate. We must not forget both Manchester sides too, but I feel this London duo are going to go head to head this season.