So the big day is almost here. A lot of Gooners may be fearing the trip to Stamford Bridge since Chelsea are in hot form. But it has to be noted that Chelsea have played 2 decent teams this year, and lost to both of them. First Manchester United in the Community Shield at the start of the season, and then Manchester City last Saturday. Not to mention losing out to Newcastle United at home in the Carling Cup. For once, Chelsea went for a young team in that competition and went out in the first match providing strong evidence of the difference in quality in the u-21s of the two clubs.
However, it would be a mistake to get carried away with their recent misfortunes. The League is all about whoever is the most consistent team over the 38 games. So far, undoubtedly, Chelsea have been the best. Boasting a superb goal difference of +19 from just 6 games says it all. And the fact that they have conceded just 2 goals so far, none of them being at Stamford Bridge, is worrying for Arsenal since they will be without their biggest goal scoring threats in Fabregas and van Persie.
Arsenal themselves, on the other hand, have had a surprisingly good start to the season. They were just 2 points adrift of the leaders Chelsea but recent hiccups against Sunderland and West Brom has put them 4 points below the summit of the table. Those results, especially the defeat to lowly West Brom at the Emirates, has led critics to question Arsenal’s ability to challenge for the title. But it’s too early to be drawing conclusions.
Last year Arsenal dropped way too many points against the eventual top 5 so they will surely look to make amends this year. The only points they managed against the top 5 was a win against Spurs and a goalless draw against Manchester City. This is the first real test this season, not including the visit to Anfield on opening day as a ‘real’ test! A win will have plenty of positive effects on the side. It will not only help increase the confidence of this team overall, but on the worrying goalkeeping front a good performance by Fabianski may well be the turning point in his career. The lad has talent. Many refuse to believe that but I’m not one of them. Its confidence that he lacks. He needs a boost. He got one in Belgrade in midweek, another strong performance on Sunday will do him a BIG favor.
As for the team news, Arsenal will be without plenty of first teamers. Fabregas, van Persie, Walcott, Vermaelen, Bendtner, Almunia and Gibbs are all spending time on the treatment table. Not to mention the long term absentee Aaron Ramsey. It will be interesting what lineup Arsene Wenger goes for. Whether he will look to play Chelsea at their own game by using the physical strength of Diaby and Song, or will he go for a team that can outclass Chelsea in their own perfect way of football. I will think it will probably be a mix of the two since we’re without our main creative force, Cesc Fabregas. So, probably, this will be the first 11:
Sagna Squillaci Koscielny Clichy
Nasri Song Wilshere
Rosicky Chamakh Arshavin
The back two pick themselves. Sagna is clearly the better defender among him and Eboue so I would go for him. Gibbs is out injured otherwise he would have been the better option ahead of the out of form Clichy. The front 6 are clearly the best we have from the little we have available at the moment.
Chelsea have a relatively short injury list. They will only be without midfield maestro Frank Lampard, Yossi Benayoun and Salomon Kalou. In-form Didier Drogba will surely provide the toughest test our new centre back pairing has faced thus far. Chamakh will be key. He has a brilliant record against the top teams during his time at Bordeaux so he is a big match player. Lets hope he continues it in Arsenal’s colors as well.
League position: 1st
Goals scored: 21
Goals conceded: 2
League position: 3rd
Goals scored: 16
Goals conceded: 7
This match is not a must win, but a defeat will be a huge setback to Arsenal’s title ambitions. Lets hope for the best. 2-1 to the Gunners hopefully!