Last weekend couldn’t have helped Arsenal much more after Chelsea lost two first team regulars to red cards, one key name being Didier Drogba who has dominated the Gunners over the years, during their first loss of the Premier League season against QPR. With Chelsea sitting pretty in third place, the Gunners need to work their way back into the top four from their current seventh position. Although a win would be top of the list, a draw would suit the North Londoners well, especially away from home.
Arsenal have not won a Premier League away match this season, which is their worst streak since 1992, but they must turn that around after stringing a series of home wins together with some convincing performances. Robin van Persie is the moment after netting his 24th and 25th goals in 26 2011 Premier League appearances last weekend, and with an encouraging performance from Arshavin in midweek and the return of their number one defensive man Thomas Vermaelen, Arsenal’s season is suddenly looking like it’s back on track.
The last time Arsenal won at Stamford bridge was back in November 2008 where Robin Van Persie bagged a brace, which has become his forte in recent weeks, but he cannot keep running the show on his own with the likes of Walcott, Ramsey and Arteta needing to step up to the plate just as Gervinho did superbly last weekend. Arsenal’s defense is looking more solid, however a clean sheet will be exceptional against a powerful, creative Chelsea side that will be looking to redeem themselves after a horrific performance last weekend.
Chelsea’s shock loss to QPR last weekend not only lost them points but a crucial player in Drogba. The powerful striker has been deadly against Arsenal in the past scoring 13 goals in 14 appearances in all competitions. Arsenal’s record against Chelsea with their Ivorian international is W1 D3 L10, but in his absence Arsenal have won two, drawn one and lost none. However, Fernando Torres, Daniel Sturridge, Salomon Kalou, Juan Mata and Florent Malouda are not names that the Gunners will be looking forward to facing.
Arsenal have beat Chelsea at home six times in the Premier League, which is more than any other team, and Chelsea’s failure to keep clean sheets recently, makes the 9/2 odds for Arsenal to win look like a pretty good bet! (check out our betting preview below)
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Arsenal : WWWWL
(Premier League in red)
on the latest team news:
Vermaelen might be available to be in the squad. We’ll have to assess him. He is not injured. He came off with a calf problem on Tuedsay in the Carling Cup. It was cramp because he has not played for a long time and he only had one training session. As I say he is not injured but he might be a little bit short for a game of that intensity.
Carl Jenkinson [knee] has a little chance to be available on Saturday. If not then maybe on Tuesday for him. Gibbs [stomach muscle] is not available.
on Arshavin’s transformation to the ‘Fabregas role’:
I believe that he is more at ease now in a more central role because if he is on the flanks it is very physical and you have to defend a lot, that’s not always his strongest part in the game. You can see that in the future he can be a very influential player behind the striker.
on Chelsea’s threat:
Chelsea are up there, they have quality, and for me at Manchester United they showed that quality.
They are a bit more creative than they were before because Juan Mata has given them something a bit more in the final third.
They look to be in better shape than last year so it will demand a strong defensive performance on our side. We also need to attack them like we used to away from home.
Arsenal – Robin Van Persie – The flying Dutchman has been in outstanding form this season and his form can not be argued with. Although he hasn’t been as outstanding away from home this season, he managed to string an incredible nine consecutive away goal scoring perfomances last season and may turn to his old ways this weekend.
Chelsea – Fernando Torres – The Chelsea hitman will be the number one target for Chelsea up front after returning from his three match suspension. Without Didier Drogba much of the weight rests upon the Spaniards shoulders to recreate what he used to do so well at Liverpool. The Gunners defence will need to be constantly on their toes this Saturday.
Koscielny Vermaelen Mertesacker Santos
Walcott Van Persie (c) Gervinho
With Vermaelen returning to full first team training and playing 84 minutes of the Carling Cup match he should partner Mertesacker in the centre of defence. The backline suddenly looks be a solid unit with Koscielny likely to slot in at right back, with Santos notching ahead of the injured Gibbs at left back.
The midfield will be the usual three, and upfront and wide it should be the same after Gervinho’s impressive performance against Stoke City. Walcott will most likely start with Arshavin substituting later on.