Arsenal visit Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea in the early kick-off on Saturday for a championship “six-pointer” with both teams in the race for the coveted title. Chelsea sit at the top of the table and will want to increase their lead at the top whilst the Gunners will see the game as a great opportunity to end Mourinho’s incredible unbeaten streak at The Bridge and give their title-bid the push required, with other big clashes on the horizon.
The home team come into the game with on the back of a shock defeat at Aston Villa last weekend. A Fabian Delph winner coupled with red cards for Willian and Ramires, as well as Mourinho himself being sent to the stands late on, summed up a terrible day for the Blues. That result enabled Liverpool, Arsenal and Man City to gain points on the leaders who are only four points ahead of their rivals, having played a game more. The loss to Aston Villa ended a 14 game unbeaten run which started in early December, with their last defeat coming against Stoke in that month. Mourinho and his men were victorious, however, in their midweek Champions League tie in which they progressed to the last 8 of the competition. Chelsea will hope for another positive result this Saturday, with Mourinho still yet to have tasted defeat at home in the Premier League in his spells as manager.
Arsenal will be buoyed on the back of a North London derby win which all but ended Spurs’ challenge for a Champions League place. An early winner from Rosicky as well as resolute defending from the likes of Koscielny and Mertesacker helped the Gunners to their first win away at their bitter rivals’ ground in seven years. Arsenal now sit in third place, level on points with Liverpool and now four points behind Chelsea with a game in hand. This is the first of three tough games with matches against Swansea, Man City and Everton likely to determine whether they can compete with their rivals for the title.
Chelsea are unbeaten in the two games played between the sides this season. The 0-0 draw in the Premier League was followed by a 2-0 win in the Capital One Cup, with both matches being played at The Emirates.
Chelsea will be without both Willian and Ramires who both received red cards against Aston Villa last week. Chelsea will also be without Ashley Cole who is out with a knee injury.
Arsenal have had to cope with the loss of important players with Wilshere (foot), Walcott (knee), Ozil (hamstring) and Ramsay (thigh) all missing. Diaby is another long term absentee with a knee injury.
- Jose Mourinho has never lost a match against Arsene Wenger (5 wins and 5 draws).
- Arsenal have won more away games against Chelsea in the Premier league than any other team, winning 7 times at Stamford Bridge.
- This will be Arsene Wenger 1000th game as manager of Arsenal.
- Arsenal’s last five wins at Stamford Bridge have all come from situations where they have been behind.
- Arsenal have failed to win any of their last 11 meetings against Chelsea in the Premier League (W0 D5 L6)
- Chelsea have recovered more points from losing positions than any other team in the Premier League this season (14).
- This is Chelsea’s lowest points haul after 30 games of a Premier League campaign with Jose Mourinho as manager (66), but the fifth best in Premier League history.
Chelsea: Nemanja Matic
One of only few positions that needed to be improved alongside a striker was that of a classy holding midfielder. That void was filled when Chelsea resigned Nemanja Matic from Benfica for £20 million. He has flourished and received rave reviews from the games he has featured in following his arrival and has mentioned that he is grateful for Chelsea and Benfica for making the initial transfer to Portugal, as it made him a more complete player. In the seven games Matic has started in this season, he has helped his team to four clean sheets and Chelsea have only conceded three goals in those games. The Serbian international has managed to win back possession on average once every 10 minutes, indicating his ability to break up play in the middle of the field. With a 83% pass completion rate from 402 passes, coupled with his 72% tackles success rate shows how perfect he is for the holding role in midfield. Arsenal will have to look to get past the sturdy Serbian if they are to gain a positive result, but that is easier said than done.
Arsenal: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
“The Ox” has been one of Arsenal’s stand-out performers of late and has demonstrated his versatility by shifting positions all over the midfield, with a preferred central midfield role of late. Injury problems have limited Chamberlain to only 370 minutes of playing time this season with four starts and five substitute appearances. However, from those games he has managed two goals from three shots on target. By creating four chances and four clear cut chances, he has contributed two assists so far in his games. Averaging 19 minutes per possession won, Chamberlain also has a 80% tackle success rate, adding to reasons why he has been shifted to the centre of midfield. The England international has shown in games against Liverpool in the FA Cup and Bayern Munich in the Champions League that he can lead from the front and show the type of qualities the opposition hates, with 15 out of his 32 dribbles successful so far. The fact that he has the ability to run at defenders should give Mourinho and his defence something to worry about come Saturday.
I feel as though it will be one of those tight affairs and a game both teams would rather not lose, with their opponents ready to take the upper hand if any slip-ups occur. Saying that, I think a no score draw will be on the cards in this one. Hopefully I’m wrong and it ends up being a game to remember.