The end of Arsenal’s festive period comes to a close when Chelsea come to the Emirates for this midweek Premier League tie. To say I am filled with fear and intrepidation would be an understatement. Simply put I have no idea what to expect from our team.
Now, Chelsea since they started of the nouveau riche clubs, have always been a thorn in Arsenal’s side In fact we’ve only managed to win one in our last 12 Premier League meetings. AND, given the putrid way we have performed of late, we’re just as likely to get drubbed once again.
However, we’ve also seen Arsenal rise to the occasion this year against stronger sides. Against Tottenham we played one of our most complete games I’ve seen from this squad. Even in losing to United we were clearly in for it, just stupid defensive mistakes (as per usual) cost us that match. More telling we went to the Bridge and even though the match turned out a draw, we looked the side more likely to win it.
Yet again, as we’ve seen more than naught, we have a greater propensity and coming out spending the first 20 minutes looking abjectly disinterested and only when we’ve gone down 2-0 do we decide we’d better play only to find it’s too late and losing the game.
It’s the woeful tale of the up and down season and its what this match so dreadful to anticipate.
From a bigger picture perspective, everyone we’re supposed to be “competing” with for a top 4 spot, keeps winning and well we sort of keep muddling along. This match then becomes bigger. Lose and any chance of getting a top 4 spot is likely gone. Even with it fading weekly, a win or a draw at least keeps us in touch a loss puts it out of reach in my opinion.
We don’t know exactly who is likely to line up for Arsenal. Both Koscielny and Mesut Özil are reportedly facing late fitness tests. Should Mesut miss this match it’s a huge loss as it saps any creativity from this side. Iwobi may be an up and coming talent but he is no Özil and simply cannot provide what the German playmaker can.
Additionally, if Özil is fit, Sanchez needs to continue showing his “come get me” form he has started to show since the transfer window became close to opening. He has been stellar these last few games and the jaded fan in me thinks its only because he wants to showcase that he hasn’t lost his form.
Chelsea aren’t the well-oiled machine they were last season when they coasted to the title (despite Tottenham’s pushing them.) They’ve experience hiccups this year and losses to West Ham and Palace and some of the big boys have shown they can be got. It all comes down to approach and attitude – two areas we’ve been sorely lacking in.
This is a must win situation. As stated earlier a loss all but shuts the door on the top 4 this season. It could continue the cold dark winter of our discontent as Arsenal fans. A win, well it helps paper over the cracks for a little while longer.
Players to Watch:
Arsenal. Alexis Sanchez. I don’t care if he is putting himself in the shopping window as long as he does it tonight against this strong side.
Chelsea. Eden Hazard. Rumours are he’s headed to Real Madrid. He can’t go soon enough. Nothing was more infuriating then watching him waltz through the midfield, the defense and score a goal. He’s their best player bar none.
Injuries and Suspensions:
Arsenal: Kolasinac (ankle), Koscielny (Achilles – late fitness test), Özil (knee – late fitness test), Monreal (ankle), Giroud (hamstring), Ramsey (hamstring), Cazorla (plantaris)
Chelsea: Luiz (knee)
Goals Scored Per Match (Season Average)
Goals Conceded Per Match (Season Average)
Referee: Anthony Taylor (14M 56Y 0R)
Assistants: Adam Nunn, Lee Betts
Fourth official: Craig Pawson
From the Manager’s Perspective (Courtesy BBC.co.uk)
“In football, there’s only one thing and that’s the next game.
“We know that our home form will be absolutely vital and we just come home from West Brom frustrated because we lost two points. We know it puts us under even more pressure to deliver a big result tomorrow.
“The target in 2018 is to win every single game, and the next one is Chelsea.”
Match Facts (Courtesy BBC.co.uk)
- Arsenal’s 3-0 win in the corresponding fixture last season is their only victory in the last 12 Premier League meetings (D4, L7).
- The Gunners have failed to score in seven of the last nine Premier League encounters against Chelsea.
- Chelsea have won five away matches at the Emirates Stadium in all competitions, a joint high with Manchester United.
- There have been six red cards in the last seven fixtures between these sides in all competitions, with Chelsea having a player sent off in each of the last three.
- The Gunners are unbeaten in six league games, their best run since a 13-match streak between August and December 2016.
- Arsenal have won 13 of their last 15 league games at home. The exceptions, both last month, were a defeat by Manchester United and a draw with Liverpool.
- Arsene Wenger’s side have scored in 24 consecutive Premier League home matches since a 0-0 draw with Middlesbrough in October 2016.
- They have conceded at least three goals in four of their six league fixtures against the other teams that finished in the top six last season.
- Petr Cech is one clean sheet away from becoming the first goalkeeper to record 200 in the Premier League. He played 333 league matches for Chelsea between 2004-2015.
- Jack Wilshere could start six consecutive league matches for Arsenal for the first time since September to October 2013.
- This is Arsene Wenger’s 60th meeting against Chelsea in all competitions, making them the side he has faced the most as Arsenal manager (W22, D16, L21).
Arsenal 2 – 2 Chelsea