Arsenal vs Chelsea
Barclays Premier League
Kick off: December 23, 2013 8:00 PM GMT
Psychologically, you can’t help but feel this is an extremely important game for the Gunners, particularly after losing top spot to Suarez FC. The outcome of this clash could see the Gunners retain top spot or disappointingly drop to fourth on the ladder. It would certainly boost morale to go into the New Year at the top of the heap and if we can pick up victory against this Chelsea side it would go a long way to achieving that goal.
More important is the need to register some victories against genuine title rivals. While we are consistent against the lower tier teams, disappointingly the Gunners have already registered losses against both Manchester clubs this season. It follows from last season where Arsenal couldn’t overturn big opponents and to put it simply, if we want to win the title Arsenal are going to have to turn up in the big matches and get results.
Looking at the team news Podolski is back contention after recovering from a hamstring injury. It is pretty obvious that the German won’t be starting owing to match fitness, but he is likely to be introduced in the latter stages of the tie. In terms of absentees, Koscielny has been effectively ruled out after suffering a nasty gash on his knee against Manchester City. That means Vermaelen will finally get his chance, but he does have very big shoes to fill with the Kosacker partnership performing exemplary so far this season.
The other absentee is young Jack Wilshere who has been suspended for two matches after giving the middle finger to the City crowd last game-week. Pretty harsh, but probably a good lesson for the Englishman. His absence doesn’t create much of a selection dilemma for Wenger with Walcott looking pretty sharp after bagging a well-taken a brace against City. Walcott does have a decent return against Chelsea and hopefully that trend can continue with some good service from Ozil and Ramsey.
While Arsenal go into the match on the back of some disappointing losses, Chelsea also look to be in a patch of indifferent form. In the past five matches the Blues have succumbed to defeat against Sunderland in the Capital One Cup and only just managed to scrape passed them in the Premier League in a 4-3 thriller, while also registering a loss against Stoke. It will be interesting to see what Chelsea side turn up at the Emirates.
Overall, I feel it is a hard game to pick. The Gunners seem to get nervy in the bigger matches, while Chelsea are suffering inconsistencies of their own, particularly up front. It is a derby game however, so I am hoping it will be a match filled with intensity. Ozil certainly needs to up his influence in the bigger matches and the team will certainly be wanting to taste victory again. Hopefully they are ready to end Mourinho’s dominance over Wenger!
Arsenal: Laurent Koscielny (knee), Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee), Sanogo (back), Diaby (knee)
|ARSENAL – LLDWW||CHELSEA – LWWLW|
|Manchester City 6 – Arsenal 3||EPL||Sunderland 2 – Chelsea FC 1||CCUP|
|SSC Napoli 2 – Arsenal 0||UCL||Chelsea FC 2 – Crystal Palace 1||EPL|
|Arsenal 1 – Everton 1||EPL||Chelsea FC 1 – Steaua Bucureşti 0||UCL|
|Arsenal 2 – Hull 0||EPL||Stoke 3 – Chelsea FC 2||EPL|
|Cardiff City 0 – Arsenal 3||EPL||Sunderland 3 – Chelsea FC 4||EPL|
Sagna Mertesacker Vermaelen (c) Gibbs
Arsenal 2 Chelsea 1