There’s no better feeling than waking up on a Saturday to a London derby. With Arsène and the boys looking to extend the unbeaten streak in honour of Arsène’s 16th anniversary, Saturday’s match is shaping up to be an exciting fixture. The sides look well matched in terms of form, but there are no excuses. We have the motivation, talent, and depth to win. We’re at home, which is nice, so you can be sure to hear some entertaining chants about John Terry.
I think it’s fair to expect a win against a team whose defensive record isn’t exactly sparkling like ours, and I also expect the team to play with the hand brake off, given that we’re at home. There’s no sense in fearing Chelsea, especially with Didier Drogba gone. At times you’d have to say Drogba was the only thing that made Chelsea an intimidating team, and to some extent that claim still stands, even with their mega million pound signings lining the bench.
“Yes, Didier Drogba killed us at times,” admitted Wenger. “But not only us because he was a great striker remember. He was decisive in every round in the Champions League for Chelsea last year.
“But it’s a new chance for Fernando Torres now, because when you have Drogba behind you, you’re always under pressure. Certainly Torres will enjoy that opportunity. He looks to have found form again and is very mobile. Of course we will have to keep him quiet in a game like this.
“Overall Chelsea have changed their style. They are a team with a bit more caution defensively and I believe we will need to play at a good pace with a good rhythm to win this game and that is what we are prepared to do.”
To win this match, I’ve boiled it down to two key points that have worked quite well, if recent history is anything to go by. The first being Theo Walcott; he has to start. Put aside your feelings about his contract and look at what a weapon he is against Chelsea. He was a key player in both our 3-1 and 5-3 win over the Blues, and that’s because he’s a menace to the likes of Ashley Cole and Branislav Ivanovic. They simply can’t keep up with him, and that effect will only be worsened with Santi Cazorla in the lineup, who’s got a brilliant eye for a pass.
Walcott should be deployed down the right side for him to be as effective as possible, Podolski on the left and Giroud down the middle. A front three consisting of these names offers a little of everything; pace, power and finesse. All three are capable finishers, all three are good on the ball, and all three pose different threats to Chelsea’s back four. Giroud making a nuisance of himself in the box, Podolski combining with Cazorla on the left, and Walcott making his runs in behind the defense make the match all the more mouth watering.
Enough about our attackers though, what about theirs? Eden Hazard has hit the ground running since arriving at Chelsea, and with players like Juan Mata and Oscar alongside him, a tricky task lies ahead for our back four. It’s hard to choose just two of our three excellent central defenders, but I would have to give the nod to Mertesacker and Koscielny. Mertesacker has proven to be instrumental so far in his ability to read the game and instruct Carl Jenkinson, and provide a calming effect on our defenders, similar to that of Johan Djourou two years ago. Thomas Vermaelen has just recently recovered from sickness, so it seems reasonable to assume he’s not 100% sharp yet. He’s picked up some nasty knocks in recent matches, so some more rest could do him good. It also gives Koscielny more game time, which he could really use.
Same old injuries for us, with Fabianski, Szczesny, Rosicky and Sagna all still on the mend.
I predict a 4-1 victory, with Giroud, Podolski and Arteta on the scoreline.
Apart from that, there isn’t much to discuss about this match. Hopefully we can continue our charge up the table after a stuttering second half performance against Manchester City.