After an awful midweek performance that made even viewers feel lethargic after extra time, Chelsea travel to The Emirates hoping to wrap up December (joint) top of the Premier League.
Despite being perceived as stuttering and wasteful in front of goal, it’s important to realise a win could see Chelsea top at Christmas despite not consistently hitting anything past 3rd gear all season. The league leaders (Saturday am) and best Arsenal side for years, complete with a recognised goalscorer, are only two points ahead and that, is encouraging reading for all in blue.
Samuel Eto’o’s showings of late have been well below par and with Jose Mourinho seeming to prefer using Demba Ba as a late substitute, it appears likely that Fernando Torres will be leading the Chelsea line. With Laurent Koscielny out injured, the out of favour Thomas Vermalen looks likely to take his place alongside Per Mertesacker. The Arsenal defence has been fairly solid prior to the last two matches so Torres has an ideal opportunity to stake a claim to a consistent starting role.
Juan Mata’s spark seems to appear against Arsenal so it would be good to see last season’s trio of him, Oscar and Eden Hazard supporting Torres. Lampard, and especially Ramires, will have to be very disciplined in their defensive roles against Arsenal’s attacking midfield trio and precision will be key with Mourinho undoubtedly playing counter attacking football.
Arsenal’s last two dreadful performances have come during busy periods and they’ll be the thankful for the rest before this big clash. Physically they will have recovered but mentally, Mourinho seems to have an inane knack of bullying Arsenal sides. Unlike previous injury stricken seasons, Arsenal’s only missing player of note will be Jack Wilshere for his offensive gesture towards Manchester City fans in their last weekend. Mattheui Flamini is often key to Arsenal’s shape and his showing directly correlates to how much of the ball the attacking players see, as seen against City when he is overwhelmed the side become skewed and concede goals. Hopefully Oscar will keep him more than preoccupied.
As always it won’t be an easy game and with Chelsea’s defence leaking goals lately, it’s hard to see Arsenal not scoring even against a defence minded Chelsea. But the same theory applies to a recently shaky Arsenal side who will be nervous to regain their previous form.