On April 26th, Arsenal welcome London rivals and league leaders, Chelsea, to the Emirates for a top of the table clash. After facing third place last week, Chelsea will travel to the home of second place Arsenal. While this is first vs second, some of the drama is taken out of it due to the fact that blues are 10 points up on the gunners with six games to go. So, even if they lose, Jose Mourinho’s side will still have a seven point cushion with five games to go. Still, no matter the implications, a game between Arsenal and Chelsea is always a heated contest, especially when Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger are the managers.
Shockingly enough Arsenal are not riddled with injury worries. They do have one or two players that will miss out due to injury though. The one player that is a certainty to miss out is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as he continues to recover from his groin injury. Per Mertesacker is a “50-50” for the game, according to Arsene Wenger.
Chelsea don’t have a lot of injuries, but all of their injuries are at striker, so that could be a problem. All of their strikers are doubts for the game. It would be a shock if Diego Costa plays after his hamstring injury. Both Remy and Drogba will be game time decisions. There have been conflicting reports with some saying they’ll have all three available and some saying all three will miss out. Only time can tell, but it could be a big problem for Jose Mourinho.
Arsene Wenger is winless in 12 matches against Jose Mourinho. Arsenal have not won in eight vs Chelsea in all competitions with their last win coming in their 5-3 victory at Stamford Bridge. Didier Drogba is the all time leading scorer in the fixture with 13 goals. Arsenal’s last win vs Chelsea at the Emirates was in December 2010 when Arsenal won 3-1 with Theo Walcott, Alex Song, and current Chelsea player Cesc Fabregas the goal scorers.
Arsenal – Mesut Ozil
Jose Mourinho sides are known for being defensively solid and very well organized. If the gunners are to break their opposition down, they may need a moment of creative magic, and there’s no better source for that magic than Mesut Ozil. The German has been sensational since coming back from the injury he suffered in the reverse fixture. Ozil, dubbed the best number 10 in the world by Jose Mourinho, has played up to his enormous price tag and it’s no surprise the gunners uptick in form has coincided with his return to the team. The German is a sensational player, and whether it’s a ball over the top like he produced in the FA Cup semi finals or a sensational goal like the one against Liverpool, is capable of moments if incredible quality.
Chelsea – Eden Hazard
Speaking of players that can produce moments of magic, Eden Hazard is always the key player for Chelsea. After the season he has had he’s established himself as the favorite for the PFA player of the season. The 24 year old has proved himself to be the player that makes Chelsea click. When he goes they go, as he proved in the reverse fixture when he sliced through the Arsenal defense to win Chelsea a penalty. He is more than capable of taking any defense apart at any moment and that has proved vital in big games this season.
As much as everyone wants this to be an open entertaining game, I see this ending as a cagey draw. Chelsea don’t need to win this and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if they sat very deep like they did last week against United. If that is the case, it will be down to Arsenal to break the defense down, but they’ll be wary of being caught on the counter and might not be as willing to go as attacking. I see this one ending as a bit of a boring draw.
Prediction: 1-1 Draw
If you had a Chelsea and Arsenal combined XI what would it look like? Check out this feature from ChelseaIndex.com