It’s Arsenal v Chelsea at The Emirates on Sunday and what a game it promises to be.
A win would see our boys close to within 5 points of our opponents with a game in hand while a loss… well, it’s a bit too scary to think about.
Kieran Gibbs will of course be out after breaking his metatarsal midweek while Arsene Wenger has revealed that the swelling on William Gallas’ eye from his clash with Andrey Arshavin is so severe that he is a doubt. However, the manager mentions that his face would have three days to recover and I have to say that I can’t see him missing the game against his old team.
Based on the players involved and the substitutions made against Standard Liege midweek I expect the team to be something like this: Manuel Almunia behind a back four of Bacary Sagna, Gallas, Thomas Vermaelen and Emmanuel Eboue with Alex Song, Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas completing the midfield triangle and Tomas Rosicky, Eduardo and Arshavin playing up front.
Armand Traore may play at left-back like he did against Sunderland, yet I think Wenger will opt for the experience of an out-of-position Sagna or Eboue. Nasri’s early substitution midweek lends me to suggest he will start, possibly for Denilson who would be hard-pressed to play two games in a week after two months out. If Gallas doesn’t come up then it will be Mikael Silvestre who takes his place.
Up front we will need to take our chances against a well-drilled Chelsea defence and a forward trio of Rosicky, Eduardo and Arshavin has the quality, pace and experience to get the job done. Theo Walcott remains an outside chance to start but I suggest the manager might look to use him and Carlos Vela to provide impact off the bench when the forwards tire.
In the last couple of games I have been frustrated by a lack of movement and concentration by some of our senior players and I expect that to be addressed against Chelsea. Despite their position on the table The Blues are far from unbeatable on their travels and have in fact lost two of their last three away games. Additionally we have won all five of our Premier League games at home as well as two Champions League games and I expect the boys to give it their all to maintain that perfect record.
We spurned a number of chances at Sunderland and against Liege and the likes of Eduardo, Fabregas and Arshavin need to make the most of the opportunities we create. Chelsea’s defence is once against their strongest part of the team and it’s important that take our chances, particularly early on. Eduardo has been uncharacteristically wayward in front of goal recently and a big game against Chelsea will give him the perfect opportunity to turn things around.
After a week of negativity and worry I am genuinely excited about the opportunity that Sunday provides for us. The boys are yet to win a really big game since ending Chelsea’s unbeaten run at Stamford Bridge last season and despite our injury concerns I think we’re a huge chance to win this match. Regardless of the result, every single Gooner and the planet will want to see a performance full of passion and commitment and I sincerely hope our team provides that on Sunday.
It doesn’t get much bigger than this and I’ll leave you my favourite recent Arsenal v Chelsea memory.
COME ON ARSENAL!!!
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