So, we’re going into a match that certainly will be marked as one of the most important matches this season; certainly, it is the sternest test we have had to face so far. Most gunners, me included, have doubted our own team’s ability to hold up the current league leaders. However, I have no doubt in my mind that the boys can exceed our expectations and get a good result against the men in blue.
However, the Blues will not go down without a fight, especially with a certain Jose Mourinho involved. Mourinho’s tactical acumen is adapting his team to counter the opposition’s set-up, and this is one of the main reasons for Chelsea’s recent success. This is in direct contrast to Le Prof”s tried and tested formula, regardless of the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.
Although we worry about the injuries to our key players, I believe the enforced changes to our line-up will provide some unpredictability to our style of play, and possibly help us against Chelsea. While Chelsea are indeed undefeated, they are not invincible: far from it. Their games against Schalke and Swansea have given us a hint of the brittleness of their defence. If we can sacrifice some of our traditional passing game build-up for some direct-pace approach, Chelsea can be unsettled.
Alexis, Welbz and Ox should focus on using their superior pace against the technically brilliant but slower duo Terry and Cahill. For this game, we should play Ox on the right and Sanchez on the left. While Ivanovic is a good, in-form defender, he is slow on the turn and who else but Alexis to cause him a few headaches with his fancy footwork? Ox is put on the right because Azpelicuta, or however you spell his name, is perhaps the best man-marker other than Koz in the PL. The only way we are going to expose him is through sheer pace.
Matic is a tougher nut to crack. He is usually so solid against good teams. But Chelsea’s match against Schalke has shown opposition teams how to expose him. In that match, he was up against Draxler. Draxler got past him with absolute ease with his sublime skill and forced Matic to foul him countless times. Which is why I want to give Alexis a free role on the left, interchanging positions with Ozil regularly. If anyone will replicate Draxler and finally break Matic, it has to be Alexis.
Another major threat for this match will be the Costa-Fabregas partnership. Costa will be hard to stop but I trust Koz and Per to nullify the threat he brings. Most importantly, we must stop our former talisman. We should deploy Danny to man mark Fabregas. We should deprive him of the ball and that will undoubtedly slow him down, or hopefully shut down – their source from midfield. Or we could drop Ozil and deploy Rosicky to harass and abuse Fab.
Alongside that, I sincerely hope Gibbs and Calum don’t venture too far forwards in this match. We should go for a more cautious approach, and by keeping back Calum and Gibbs we can blunt the pressure given by the Chelsea wingers.
Most importantly though we mustn’t concede within the first five minutes, like we did the last time. And even if we do, I hope we won’t be pushing everyone forward to get an equaliser. Stay calm, pass the ball around and slowly gain momentum from there. This may not be a blueprint for success but if done right, we might be able to salvage a point or even go on to win the game.
Predicted starting XI
PS- VCC, if I get the line-up completely right, I’m expecting 20 points for the UMF league 😛
Written by: Shrillex
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