Chelsea host Arsenal at Stamford Bridge for the early kick off on Saturday, in what will be Arsene Wenger’s 1000th match in charge of Arsenal. Jose Mourinho is yet to lose to Arsene Wenger as manager of Chelsea. In his previous reign, Chelsea won three and drew four of the team’s encounters. This included the 2007 League cup final success in Cardiff.
Didier Drogba always enjoyed success playing against Arsenal, and another more recent departure, Juan Mata also scored regularly against Arsenal over his time at Chelsea. Of our current players, Frank Lampard has scored in both the last two home league matches for us against our north London rivals.
Chelsea recorded 2-1 home and away victories against Arsenal last season, and have already faced them twice this season, both matches at the Emirates. A 0-2 League cup fourth round victory, with Ceasar Azpilicueta and Juan Mata, his last goal for Chelsea, on the score sheet. This was followed up with a 0-0 draw in the league just before Christmas. That match saw Mourinho employ a 4-3-3 formation, Chelsea winning all the midfield battles, creating more chances, but failing to score. Lampard striking the bar with our best chance.
Arsenal are still well and truly in the title race, heading into this match four points behind us, but with a match in hand. That means if they were to inflict a defeat upon us, they would go above us if they could win their match in hand. Liverpool are in the same situation as Arsenal, but with a better goal difference, and still have to face us at Anfield. So that underlines the importance of this match in terms off the title fight. If we could win Saturday lunchtime, it would be a huge blow to Arsenal’s title hopes, moving us seven clear of them for the time being.
So far our only dropped points at Stamford Bridge in the league have come courtesy of two draws at home to West Bromwich Albion, 2-2, and West Ham United, 0-0. Mourinho is renowned for having a great home record at all the teams he manages, and this has been no different in his second spell in charge here so far. Arsenal do have a decent away record this season, having won nine times on the road, drawing twice, and losing four times. But some of those away defeats have seen them badly exposed. They have been battered at Manchester City and Liverpool. The Liverpool defeat highlighted weaknesses in their defence that Chelsea can hopefully capitalise on. They lost the ball to easily in midfield, and couldn’t deal with balls played in behind their backline. Mertesacker in particular lacks pace, and it is these areas that we can try and take control of to win the match. In Mourinho’s previous stint at the Bridge, our matches against Arsenal were characterised by Chelsea dominating the midfield. Time after time Ballack, Lampard and Essien were to strong for Arsenal in the middle, and if we can replicate this on Saturday with Matic, Lampard and Oscar, and play balls in behind quickly after winning them in midfield, then we could have a great chance of winning. The first half of last seasons home win saw an example of this. Giving Arsenal no time on the ball, and attacking them with pace and power. We certainly have players available with the attributes to repeat this again.
Both teams have players unavailable. For the visitors, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Abou Diaby and Theo Walcott are all out, and Rosicky faces a late fitness test.
Chelsea have Ramires and Willian suspended after their red cards against Aston Villa, while Ashley Cole joins long term absentee Van Ginkel on the sidelines with a knee ligament injury. Schurrle will likely join Oscar and Hazard in midfield, behind either Eto’o or Torres.