Never before or since have I been as angry, emotional and animated as I was when the last time these two teams met. Chelsea defeated Arsenal at the Bridge in the beginning of the season which many people incorrectly thought would kick-start Chelsea’s campaign. Few months on, Arsenal are top and Chelsea, still struggling. Yes, I will go ahead and say that I want revenge. Like every single Arsenal fan I want us to destroy them.
Now I’m going to try and keep my emotions to one side and try and analyse the factors that could affect the game.
Arsenal’s setup in midfield
With Cazorla still out, Ramsey is sure to start this game along with Flamini and Ozil. At Anfield Ramsey was playing about 10-15yards further up the pitch than Flamini and was almost alongside Ozil throughout the game. A setup like that leaves a lot of free space just in front of defence (a point I made in my article about that game as well) and I’m not sure if Flamini is good enough to be trusted with a responsibility to deal with Chelsea’s attack in that much space.
Arsenal could probably afford to play with that setup in that particular game because Liverpool’s central midfield was hardly one with a lot of creative potential, yet Arsenal conceded thrice in that game.
Chelsea are different. Yes they’re struggling for form but they still have players with exceptional ability and it will be naive to underestimate them. First and foremost Arsenal shouldn’t allow them too much space to work with.
Ramsey probably doesn’t like playing in the deeper position and that obviously isn’t where he is most effective offensively, but for the sake of the team’s defensive stability and overall balance he must be played there alongside Flamini.
Walcott or Giroud or both?
With Walcott now fit, Wenger m has the luxury of choosing between speed and strength up top. He can chose to start with Giroud’s presence or Walcott’s pace up front or opt to start them both. Despite all his goals and assists, I don’t think Giroud is a world class striker and I’m not sure of how much fear he instil’s in the opposition’s back line (he’s a decent striker and a good option to have nonetheless) Walcott on the other hand has a lot of pace and can get in behind Chelsea’s leaking defence. I also think Walcott is a better finisher than the Frenchman.
That being said, with Chamberlain still trying to find his form, perhaps it will be best if Arsenal start with Giroud up top and Walcott out wide.
Put Walcott up against Ivanovic and see how he copes?
I wasn’t too impressed with his first few appearances in the Arsenal shirt but he has won me over since. He is not a finished product by any standards but he has quality and the vision to pick a pass. He is quick and also works tirelessly. With most wingers reluctant to defend its hard to find all that in 1 footballer these days. He has had a good run of games in the first team and I think he is a man to watch out for in this game apart from the obvious German maestro. I hope he does well.
Chelsea’s midfield balance
It is almost unbelievable how Matic has gone from being one of the best performers at Chelsea to being one of their most ineffective and worst ones. But that has been the story of Chelsea’s season so far with Ivanovic, Fabregas, Hazard and Costa all struggling for form this season.
Chelsea’s combination in midfield will be vital for the game’s balance of play. Will Hiddink play Mikel and Matic? Will Matic get in the team at all? Where does Cesc play? As a CAM instead of Oscar or play deeper alongside Mikel who in my opinion is a certainty to start? Interesting.
Will the defence show up at all?
Why Chelsea have been so poor at the back this season is beyond me. Few teams have conceded more goals than them this season and shockingly Chelsea have conceded more goals than they have scored after 22games. Unbelievable.
If Chelsea aren’t up to it defensively this weekend at the Emirates, the game could be over inside 20minutes like it was against Manutd.
A big test for JT and his back line.
No matter who wins this one, if the game ends up being half as dramatic as the last one, it will be enough to fill the back pages of every single Monday morning newspaper on earth.