Still sick of football? Aren’t we all. However, the only way to move on from THAT night is to look forward to the next game, and on Sunday Chelsea make the trip to the Emirates Stadium to face Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal side, fresh from their own European disappointment in mid-week.
After losing 1-0 at Old Trafford to Manchester United in the first-leg of the Champions League semi-finals, Arsenal were expected to at least make it a bit difficult for the reigning champions in North London on Tuesday night. United however blew Arsenal away, eventually winning 3-1 with the home side’s goal coming from a penalty which perhaps should never have been awarded by the referee. Referees making wrong decisions? Surely not.
With both Chelsea and Arsenal out of European action for another season, the Blues are focusing on an FA Cup Final at the end of May while Arsenal are merely looking to finish as high as they can in the Premier League. Having spent a fair bit of time outside the top four this season, March saw Arsenal overtake their main rivals for the final Champions League spot – a floundering Aston Villa side – to reclaim their place amongst the Premier League heavyweights. Inspired by January signing Andriy Arshavin and buoyed by a fantastic run of results which has seen the Gunners go 21 league games unbeaten since losing against Manchester City back in November. Their first game of the run was a 2-1 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, which saw a controversial goal from Robin van Persie allowed despite the fact the Dutchman was clearly offside. Officials making wrong decisions? Surely not (again).
Arsenal have claimed their Champions League place for next season but as they sit six points behind Chelsea, they may be looking to overtake the Blues and seal an automatic place in the competition rather than enter at a qualifying stage which comes with finishing fourth. Their task has been hindered somewhat with injuries however, with Gael Clichy the latest victim. The Frenchman will miss the rest of the season with a back injury. Tomas Rosicky is also out of action, along with ex-Blue and part-time hate figure William Gallas.
Chelsea also have a few players out, with Didier Drogba and Michael Ballack set for death by firing squad after their antics in mid-week. Drogba’s crime? Telling the truth. Ballack? Fraud. We were under the impression that he couldn’t run anymore, but there he was, sprinting after the referee like he was 21 again. Back to reality, it seems as if Deco and Ricardo Carvalho will again miss out through injury, while Joe Cole and Paulo Ferreira continue to sit it out for the remainder of the season.
Still fired up from Wednesday’s “disgrace”, the Blues will be looking to turnaround their form against the big four so far this season. Just one point from five matches does not make pleasant reading, although poor refereeing in the aforementioned Arsenal game, as well as the Liverpool game at Anfield (referees making wrong decisions? Etc etc) taint the form book somewhat.
It is worth pointing out too that the last time we played Arsenal was in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley where we proved we were just too strong for the Gunners. They did not play particularly badly, we were just a class above them, as proved by goals from Florent Malouda and Drogba.
Although we do not appear to have a great record at Arsenal, it was only in December 2005 when we last beat them on their own turf. An Arjen Robben opener was matched in the second-half by Joe Cole, who pounced on a defensive error to punish the home side and bag Chelsea a 2-0 win.
After Wednesday’s sham of a football match, hopefully the Emirates Stadium will host a fairer contest. It’s a really novel idea, but one which FIFA, UEFA and the FA may like to consider:
How about the players deciding the outcome of the game rather than the officials?
Just a thought.
www.extrabet.com brings you the latest odds ahead of every Chelsea match.
The Blues travel to the Emirates Stadium for the live Sky game on Sunday and with the teams splitting their two meetings so far this season, the odds reflect what appears will be a tight encounter. Chelsea will be looking for a repeat of their victory from the FA Cup Semi-Final and to beat Arsenal for the first time on their turf since 2005, which was at the old Highbury stadium. A Chelsea win is available at 15/8, Arsenal are priced at 6/4 and the Draw at 2/1.
The First Goalscorer market may be interesting as this fixture has seen some unlikely candidates open the scoring with Theo Walcott (twice), Bacary Sagna and William Gallas being the first scorers in the last four encounters! At the minute Didier Drogba is the market favourite at 6/1, hotly followed by Frank Lampard and ex-gooner Nicolas Anelka both priced at 8/1. Other prices available on the market include Florent Malouda at 12/1, Michael Ballack at 16/1, Michael Essien at 20/1, JT and Alex at 25/1 or Ashley Cole at 40/1 to score first against his former employers.
The last 3 encounters have finished with 3 goals being scored in the match (2-1 each tme) and the price against that happening again on our Total Goals market is 3/1.
Like all live televised Sky, Setanta and ITV games, www.extrabet.com will be updating its prices on over 300 different bets during the match so you can take any winnings whenever you want. For example you’ve backed Chelsea to win 2-0 for £10 at 12/1. At half-time its 1-0 to Chelsea… On 65 minutes Chelsea go 2-0 up, your bet is now valued at £100. You can have the choice to take the £100 now and sit back and enjoy the rest of the game or sweat it out hoping the score stays at 2-0 until full time to get the full £130 (£120 winnings + £10 stake back). The clock continues to tick and on 86 minutes Arsenal grab a late consolation to make it 2-1 which scuppers your bet!
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