With all the focus on Arsene’s 1000th game, it is quite easy to forget that it happens to be one of Arsenal’s most important games of the season today. Fate has, in no small measure, served up a meeting with Jose Mourinho on a day our manger celebrates a milestone.
Say what you wish about the Portuguese – I’m certainly no fan – but he knows how to win and he’ll use all the unscrupulous methods at his disposal. A trip to Stamford Bridge to play Chelsea is a formidable task indeed. A victory would be sweetest way imaginable to put the “specialist in failure” remarks firmly back from where they came and blow the title race wide open.
The team news has thrown up a few concerns. It’s not yet definitive, but word has leaked that Tomas Rosciky may not be fully fit for the game. As I’m writing this preview the night before publication, I can find only speculation and no clarification. I suspect he’ll feature in some way, but can’t be certain. This is the point where some of those well-documented ‘sources’ would come in handy. I must endeavour to make sexy friends with a few tea ladies.
As we already know Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and Abou Diaby all remain sidelined, the latter being unavailable due to a recent attempt at time travel going awry and the tall Frenchman is now certain he’s living in the Jurassic period and is a Velociraptor (I have no idea if Velociraptors existed in the Jurassic period, so don’t correct me if you do know. It’s a silly joke. This isn’t ‘The Armchair Dinosaur Enthusiast’…)
Assuming Rosicky isn’t fit to play. I’d guess we’ll see a team that lines up a little like this:
Predictions-wise, it’s a tough one to call. There’s always the hopeful side of my brain battling with the pessimistic side. A draw wouldn’t be catastrophic, but would only really help others. A win for either side is important so I expect both teams to attempt to get it, even with Mourinho’s customarily negative attitude towards these kind of fixtures.
Perhaps that might help us. The two times we have played Chelsea at The Emirates this season they’ve come to stifle our play before trying to put in any attacking verve of their own. As the home team they may feel compelled to come out of themselves a little and we might be able to exploit that.
That said, it’s going to be tough. Arguably the toughest away fixture of the calendar and we are yet to cover ourselves with glory in any of those. At Manchester City and Liverpool, we maybe allowed the occasion to daunt us and fell victim to the pressure. If we want to win, we can ill-afford to allow such things to occur again.
I’m feeling quite chipper at the moment, so I’m going to bravely guess at a 1-0 scoreline with another solid defensive showing winning the day. Now I’ve said that, it’ll probably end up 5-5…
On that note, I’ll hand over to you, the delicious reader. How would you line-up the team? Who would you start and why? How do you think we should approach the game? There’s a very handy comments section below where you can answer those questions. I’ll look forward to reading some.
Tomorrow I’ll return at the usual time with a review of the game. Until then, and as always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.