This weekend Chelsea welcome North London’s second entry to the Europa League for next season. A tie that usually provides sparks has fittingly fallen close to Guy Fawkes night, throw in Chelsea’s discipline levels of late and fireworks could almost certainly be on the cards.
The Mickey Mouse Cup on Wednesday saw Chelsea field a massively changed side from the one that was unlucky to beaten be by the QPR 12. Only Luiz has started both games and some would hope that this means he won’t be starting against Arsenal, his constant gung-ho mentality has left him susceptible to costly mistakes and the solid wall of Alex will appear more of a convincing figure against an Arsenal frontline just starting to find their attacking feet. Don’t get me wrong, the marauding runs are exciting and can, at times, be a valuable asset but we can’t afford to leave gaps around Van Persie. He’s not the only creative outlet either, the cohesion between the forwards and midfield is certainly building and we look dangerous every game. The suspensions of Drogba and Bosingwa shouldn’t be of any major disruption to the team, with Ivanovic and Torres both the obvious choices to slot straight into the starting lineup. A front 3 of Mata, Torres and Sturridge would look favourable against a suspect looking Arsenal defence, especially as Torres and Sturridge seem to be finding he net on a consistent basis. Lampard and Meireles have also looked in fine form so far, with Mikel or Rameries completing a midfield 3 we’ve certainly been able to control games, the work rate, possession and creativity against QPR was outstanding and replication against Arsenal will certainly tilt the game in our favour.
The last meeting between the sides saw a lacklustre Chelsea side be well beaten 3-1 at The Emirates. However, the key figures from that day have moved on and the current side undergone quite a few changes. After replacing Fabregas and Nasri with Arteta and Benayoun, it’s hard to see us being undone in the midfield areas in the same fashion. Although, of late, Arsenal have started to play the football that usually insures their them competing for a Champions League place. Gervinho, Van Persie and Ramsey have been the key players for Arsenal of late, they may not be surrounded by the quality of players past, but they’ve looked threatening and need to be quelled.
A tough game is certainly to be expected. Arsenal have won more times at the Bridge than anyone else and have come from behind six times to win, also more than anyone else. However, AVB’s stamp on the team is becoming more apparent every game and a game plan of high pressure on the Arsenal forward line and moving the ball quickly in our own attacks should see us through. Mertesacker is the sort of centre-half Torres excels against, with the turning circle of a bus any room to accelerate past needs to be used. You can see Torres having chances to build on his encouraging form.
My Prediction: 2-0.