FA Premiership, April 21st: Arsenal Vs Chelsea
Big game greetings, intrepid reader.
Let’s not beat about any bushes here; today’s game against Chelsea is vitally important. I’m not one to put any faith in them being ‘tired’ after their defensive excursions repelling the incessant tippy-tappy Barcelona attacks on Wednesday. No, sir. They’ll be up for this one; expect rotation in the team to give them freshness. Victory puts them right back in the hunt for a top-4 finish, defeat for us certainly opens the door to a nerve-shredding final few games. Mercifully, Drogba won’t be there to terrorise our defenders.
After a tame and unimaginative performance against Wigan, I’m hoping that motivation will take care of itself with this one. When the big guns have come calling at the Emirates, we’ve – mostly – managed to raise our game and put on a show.
There are a few selection problems, however. Mikel Arteta’s calming, productive influence in the centre of midfield will be a huge loss, Yossi Benayoun is ineligible against the club from which he was loaned, and we’re all aware of the absence of Wilshere and Mertesacker.
Of course, it’s not all bad news. Laurent Koscielny makes a very welcome return after serving his two match ban, whilst Gibbs, Diaby and Coquelin are all pushing for selection – Diaby is highly unlikely to be anything other than a body to make up the numbers.
With that in mind, I expect the team to line up thusly:
Szczsney; Gibbs, Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen; Song, Ramsey, Rosicky, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain; van Persie.
The two most important figures will be Song and Oxlade-Chamberlain. Our Cameroonian midfielder can ill afford to leave any gaping holes in the midfield knowing Arteta won’t be there covering his forays into opposition territory. He should contribute to attacks when the situation requires it, but there has to be someone covering the back four. In recent weeks, he’s bounded off upfield only to leave an enormous fucking chasm in front of the defence. If he does that too often today, we’ll get punished.
Oxlade-Chamberlain will frighten seven shades of Christ out of Chelsea’s full-backs. He’s young, extremely gifted and plays without fear. He can really hurt Chelsea if he gets into the game. I expect Chelseas to try and cut off space for our wingers, which invariably leaves Theo massively ineffective . Getting The Ox involved might just turn their attentions away from Theo, who, given some open space, has proven more than a match for Cashley.
Big games like this are often tricky to predict. In a season where peculiar results have occurred on a weekly basis, I’m at a loss to offer a reasonable guess at the scoreline. I’m going to go for a simple 1-0 to Arsenal. I can’t imagine we’ll be having the fireworks and splendour of the 5-3 at Stamford Bridge.
That’s all for today, folks. Enjoy the game from whatever vantage point in whichever part of the globe you reside. The comments await you below, and they’re primed and ready to receive your views on the starting line-up.
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