The Manchester City result aroused something in me. That something is the ability to worry about a defence that, up until recently, has been solid, organised and performing to an extremely high level. Perhaps that game was one of those silly moments in football where things just happen without any logical or rational explanations. Perhaps. Regardless of that, I get the impression I shall omit a whimper of some sort the moment any balls arc ominously toward our penalty area.
“Must win” – that’s how the game is described by many, and I’m inclined to agree. Having seen our glorious top spot taken from us by a one-man army in red and a decent points lead whittled away very quickly, the best way to get ourselves back on track is to dispatch a Chelsea side that have floundered and look beatable on their travels. We all know how well documented Arsene’s record against Mourinho is. It’s not the most favourable of statistics, but all runs have to come to an end at some point. I go into this game with plenty of nerves and ridiculous fears, but in equal measure I posses belief in the team.
Midfield will arguably be the deciding factor, and should ours perform to its ability, we have an outstanding chance of winning the game. Certain players have gone off the boil ever-so-slightly in recent weeks. Arsenal have had a fixture pile-up that hasn’t helped. Today we go into an important match with a full 9 days rest. That should mean we see fresh legs and a good performance.
The team news is as you’d expect. Lukas Podolski is set to take a place on the substitutes bench after a lengthy period on the sidelines. That’s great news. I’m a big fan of Lukas’. He is, in my opinion, the best finisher at the club, and a good means of offering Giroud some rest without potentially upsetting the team’s balance by bringing in an outsider. When he wants to play, he’s enthusiastic, strong and determined. He’s had his off days in an Arsenal shirt, by every player has those. Plus, he does look fetching in a bobble hat:
The main doubt is Laurent Koscielny. Having been taken off at The Etihad with a nasty laceration to his knee, it’s doubtful he’ll have healed fully today. Captain Thomas Vermaelen is waiting in the wings to step in, and I for one think our Belgian friend is a perfectly good replacement. He just needs games to find his form. The Ox is still gradually making his way back to full training, and Sanogo and Diaby remain on the sidelines due to having both misplaced their entire skeletal structure.
My guess at how we will line up is this:
I’ve added The Flame to that XI, but it’s just as likely Arsene will start with Arteta today. Flamini’s display against Man City wasn’t his best, and maybe today isn’t the type of game for him. Or maybe it is – he adds some physicality to our midfield, and Chelsea aren’t especially well known for their rule-abiding, likeable characters. Either is good as far as I’m concerned, and given we shipped 6 goals previously, I wouldn’t be surprised if we started with both in the pivot area.
As I said, midfield is the area where the game will be won. If we can dominate possession and get Ozil and Cazorla plenty of time on the ball, we have the ability to win the game. I have a good feeling we can get a decent result today. Mourinho will set up his team to stifle us and counter attack, but it’s up to us to overcome that.
That’s all for today, boys ‘n’ girls. The comments section below is waiting for your thoughts and views. Who would you start? How do you think the game will be won and lost? What is your prediction on the score? Let me know a few of your thoughts.
Tomorrow it’s Christmas Eve. Hopefully my early present from Arsenal will be to be able to write of a glorious performance and return to the summit of the Premiership. Fingers, and all crossable parts of my anatomy, are well and truly crossed. I’m boldly going for 2-0 to Arsenal and lots of festive cheers. If we lose… Well, as I thought it was perfectly put on Twitter:
Told Mum if Arsenal lose Monday Christmas is cancelled. Gonna burn my tree and throw coal at orphaned kids
— Emy (@emiliej_) December 22, 2013
As always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.