Arsenal-Chelsea Match Preview, Predicted Line-up. Title Aspirations vs Title Holders, Who

Has the best team in London?

Of course, Tottenham, West Ham United and Crystal Palace would all argue that they should be counted in the reckoning, seeing they all sit above Chelsea too.  Chelsea are still holders of the league title, however, and they’re still in the FA Cup and Champions League.  In their minds, by hook or by crook, they will (somehow) believe it’s not over yet.

This match is a big one.  Win it and Arsenal’s title chase seems well and truly on.  Any other result and we drop from the top of the table and embolden those teams near us.  It’s far too early to call this one a ‘must-win’ but the implications are stark.  Chelsea are a punch-drunk and stumbling former champion but they will want to show a bit of fight against a team they’ve sometimes treated like a punching bag.  We should remember they celebrated their nil-nil in this fixture late last season as if it was the title winner.  Better that we administer the knock-out blow, I say.

We’ve already failed in the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge thanks to the sublime officiating of one Mike Dean.  We cannot afford to do likewise with Mark “Plugs” Clattenburg on the whistle.

Uh oh, talking about the ref already?  Better than worrying about the handshake.  Jose Mourinho would have to have some nerve to show up in our stadium trying to hunt down Arsene Wenger for the ritual greeting.

No, the Moo-man has been put to pasture, most likely because he lost the dressing room.  I think it was worms that got him, but others are saying “Csnakes.”  The various vipers who failed to find form under the Mourinho are still decent players and might still bring some venom.  Injury worries over Eden Hazard and Diego Costa (Mourinho’s alter ego on the pitch?) appear lifted, while our own (almost) prodigal son, Cesc Fabregas, is back to something resembling the creative force we remember and were so heartbroken to see choose the blue side of town.  Add in your favorite shade of Brazilian attacker (Willian, Oscar, Kennedy and/or Ramires) and it’s clear that Chelsea have weapons enough to hurt us.

In truth, it’s at the back where billionaire owner Roman Abramovich’s assembled squad has struggled the most.  31 goals scored in the league isn’t so bad; it ranks above Manchester United’s 28, for example.  Instead, it’s the 34 conceded that shows the real problem. Letting Petr Cech come our way must be a recurring nightmare for the owner.  Thibaud Cortois is a very fine keeper but he hasn’t been able to regain his title winning form since coming back from an early season injury. Moreover, Chelsea haven’t had a settled back four.  Branislav Ivanovic and John Terry are showing their age.  Kurt Zouma has made one of the center back positions his own but Gary Cahill has been less convincing.  Ivanovic and left back Cesar Azpilicueta can, however, get forward and be dangerous as can the bigger guys at set pieces.  John Terry’s last-kick-of-the-game (and very off-side) goal (in extra, extra time) rescued a point vs Everton a week ago.  Did Abramovich put some money in the pockets of referee Mike Jones and his assistants?

Ah Geez, we’re back to talking about the refs.  With his hair restored does Clattenburg really need more money?  He’s been chosen (along with Martin Atkinson) to referee this summer at the Euros.  Surely he must do better than Dean did in the reverse fixture.

Plugs is definitely one who tries to keep play moving by bantering with the players during the match.  Arsenal must be prepared for Chelsea to work that angle as much as trying to work the ball.  That sort of cynicism–and all those high price players–mean that new manager Guus Hiddink’s team should provide a stern test.

Maybe Wenger should try and mess him up during the handshakes. We have players returning to fitness but I wonder about their full readiness for this one.

On the plus side, Mesut Ozil, who didn’t travel to our nil-nil up in Stoke, has only played once since January 2nd so he should be very well primed.  Alexis Sanchez, out since November, might finally be ready for a return to action.  New signing Mohamed Elneny saw what English football is all about from the bench at the Britannia and will have had another week of training with the boys.  Will those guys play or will Wenger stick with the group which got us through the darkest days of Winter and our injury crisis?  I think we’ll see the latter group, but with stronger options, including Alexis, on the bench in case we need goals.

Subs: Ospina, Gabriel, Gibbs, Elneny, Arteta, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alexis

A conservative approach is likely on the cards even if we’d prefer going for the kill from the opening whistle.  I’m not sure we’ve got the midfield players for such an approach and we’ll need to be wary of Chelsea’s quality in attack.  Positional discipline, particularly from the deeper lying mids and full-backs seems critical.  But maybe I’m off base.  What say you, fellow Gooners?

I know the home support will want all three points if not the blood of the team which–I hate to say–has been the most successful club in London at least since we moved into the new stadium.  (Note, I didn’t say “best.”)  This is a great chance for the team to show that we are now kings of the Capital and say, “Not on our turf and not in our house.”

Go on then…

by 17highburyterrace

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17 Responses to Arsenal-Chelsea Match Preview, Predicted Line-up. Title Aspirations vs Title Holders, Who

  1. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers Seventeenho for another nice preview 🙂

    It is not a six pointer but just a three points game, but agreed that the psychological impact on the team could be big win or lose. The Chavs have nothing to lose and that could suit them, whereas we need the three points. Their squad is still very strong and they are likely to play well tomorrow (given the lack of expectation on them).

    I wonder whether we will play Alexis and Theo and keep Giroud on the bench for this one.

  2. Chala Sukere says:

    Ars 4-1 Chel

  3. retsub1 says:

    Well written 17

    I think you have probably got the team spot on. That said other than Ozil being injured/rested the line up has been virtually picking itself. Whilst the team has done well, I think they have looked a little stale the past few games and are in need of a few changes.

    When you describe the Chelsea players individually (sod it City just equalised). They do sound like a really good side. But let’s not forget it was Mourinho who seemed to have us jinxed and he is no longer around.
    Really big game this one. After successive draws its time to step up a gear

    COYG

  4. TotalArsenal says:

    Agreed re fleshing things up, Retsubster 😀

  5. Admir says:

    Hello, people! 🙂

    I will first make a reply to the previous post about predictions.

    Will Arsenal win the league – if not, in what position will we finish?

    No. We’ll end up second, behind City. They just score too many goals.

    Will Arsenal finally beat Barcelona in the CL – how far in this competition will we go this time round?

    No. We will draw in the first leg and lose in Barcelona.

    Will Arsenal win the FA Cup, if not, how far in this competition will we go?

    No. Sixth Round.

    Will Mesut Ozil out-assist (produce more assists) than the PL top scorer scores goals this season?

    No. Whoever wins The Golden Boot will score at least 22-23 goals and I don’t think Mesut will be able to keep his current ratio of assists per game.

    Do we still need to buy this January to win silverware or are we more than strong enough with the current squad?

    Yes, we do but we can’t sign a game-changer in January.

    That being said, I expect an unpleasant surprise against Chavs. They have a good manager now and we are talking about the guy who has managed to win European Champions’ Cup without winning a single game from the quarterfinals to the very end. The refs will help them again, just like they have been helping them in this fixture in the last…million occasions? Ramires’ stamp on Coquelin before Mata’s goal in 2012-13, neither a penalty given for Willian’s tackle on Walcott nor a red card issued to Mikel for a dangerous tackle on our Mikel in 2013-14, no red card for Cahill last season, no penalty for Fabregas’ handball at the Emirates, not to mention Dean’s crime against football in the reverse fixture…

  6. proudgooner says:

    I’m going to the match today.
    I can’t wait, we have done great at home v the big clubs this season. I went to city game and it was great .
    But this 1 I am should be great .
    I think were up for it . I know I am our fans have been great this season also and we need to be that 12 today
    COYG
    Sorry I have not popped in in a while , il let you my thoughts later at night after the game.
    BIG 1 indeed
    I think will win I think 2-1 or 3 nil is possible . Chelsea are not scoring much.
    2-1 is a good bet
    Cash out if there looks like more goals 😉

  7. proudgooner says:

    Looks like I missed out a few words lol
    But u get what I mean
    Typing is to slow
    We want to hit them with pace
    I think theo may get a start or sometime up front
    I would love to see him chipping past Terry who though a great defender just ain’t quick enough for Theo

  8. Pony Eye says:

    Nice post HT.

    I approach this game with the assumption that we are playing against a top four bitter rival.

    I expect Sanchez back to play for 60 -70 mins. High time Walcott is relieved of the responsibility of tracking back to defend, particularly in this instance that our wide left wifi have the impressive Williams to deal with.

    Walcott, however, should be our front man in today’s match, ahead of the in-form Giroud. Theo should just stay up the pitch, like Leicester’s Vardy, even when we defend deep. His presence unsettles defenders, most especially John Terry.

    By the 60-70 min Giroud should come in, and Walcott drop to the wide left to replace Sanchez. If the game is comfortable for us at that point, we might instead sub Sanchez with a more defensive minded player.

    It has taken all of 23 games, for the prejudice of history to loosen its strangle hold on me for me to recognize that Leicester is a threat to our aspiration. We must not let them move ahead. We have to win this match and stay top of the table.

  9. TotalArsenal says:

    Match Day FFGs!

    I much prefer us to play on Saturday than Sunday but we finally get our game today. I have no doubt that this will be hard one to win but we can do it. I just hope the ref does not spoil it, as per Seventeenhos post.

  10. TotalArsenal says:

    Leicester and Spuds won which is not so good but the Manchester clubs’ points losses are great, so even a draw wouldn’t be too bad a result. However, the team will be up for this one and I reckon Arsene will need to change a few things to bring the best out of the team. Will we see Elneny start? Will Sanchez and Theo lead the line with Rambo moving to the right? Cannot wait to see how it unfolds!

  11. TotalArsenal says:

    PG and Admir, good to see you back on BK! Hope you guys are keeping well? 😳

  12. proudgooner says:

    TA,
    Love it wuooooo
    It will be loud there today it will be where were sitting .
    Mini hulk must be really hungry to play I hope he is ready
    COYG

  13. henrychan says:

    Hi all.. Nice post 17ht..
    Like Elvis said: It’s now or never.. Hehehe..
    As I said before.. If we want the PL, then Chelsea’s game is a must win.. A wall to tear down.. To crushed..
    Yesterday was almost perfect.. City draw.. MU lost.. It’s mean if we fail to win we still be above City.. Hehehe. . Leicester win is still okay, cause they will be fall down by February.. But Spurs win wasn’t so good.. Hahahaha.. After lost in first half, they came back to win by 3 goals..

    I saw pictures that Coq already back training.. And no Flamini and Ramsey there.. So I think
    Something might happened to both of them.. Any news..??
    So.. I think Elneny will play, we need him.. Fresh new energy will bring us more powerful energy as a whole team.. Next two hours we will soon see who will play..
    I wish Walcott will put back as CF.. Come in second round to replace Giroud or Campbell will be fair enough for him after last game.
    Can’t wait to watch the game.. Go Gunners..

  14. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hi Guys… The early match is just kicking off… Man o’ man were Everton robbed a week ago…

    PG, have a great time at the match… I agree that this is a really big one for the home support… If the 60,000 in the stadium help conquer our ‘issues’ with the Chavs it will bode very well for the remainder of the home matches…

    Not too many other comments but then again what can be said about this one? My line-up seems conservative so maybe retsub is onto something about it being on the stale side and in need of some freshening up. Giroud to the bench, with Theo up front is the obvious change, but I wonder if Alexis is ready to start a match. The deeper issue is at the rear of MF where we just haven’t appeared very strong playing out of our own half (i.e., on the break) with Flamini in the side. Is Le Coq ready to play? Photos from training would suggest maybe, as Henry notes. (Cheers Henry for the Elvis reference, too…) What about Elneny? Since Giroud talked him up and he did all the posing and interviewing, we’ve heard very little. Overall, it seems like AW must have something up his sleeve…

    I’m very curious how Hiddink will set up his team. Has Matic been playing much? I think I’ve been seeing Obi Mikel in there instead… Does Hazard play from the start and is he truly still looking for his first league goal? I’m not as well informed as I should be, I guess…

    Maybe I should I start a new thread with a live-blog post?

    Swansea awarded a pen after Stones poor back-pass and Tim Howard’s foul … and now Everton must come from a goal behind…

    So many questions and not enough coffee…

  15. 17highburyterrace says:

    Nobody?… Hmmm….

    Well, I may just go for it anyhow….

  16. 17highburyterrace says:

    Well, I went and did it…

    NEW POST

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