Walcott has been our 2nd best player & could be the scourge of Chelsea
Match Preview: Arsenal vs Chelsea – Premier League – 23.09.16
Ahead of the Nottingham Forest game I said Arsenal needed a strong result to forge a little momentum ahead of tomorrow’s match against Chelsea. Results have gone Arsenal’s way recently but the performances have suggested – depending on your disposition – luck or grit has earned the points. I don’t think it is fair to dismiss Arsenal’s result because it was ‘just Notts Forest’. Firstly, that is disrespectful to a good team and secondly, it ignores Arsenal’s recent history against lower league opposition. We did not take the result for granted and that bore fruit in the result.
Another game we cannot take for granted is against Chelsea. This is the first in a run of 7 games that sees us play 6 matches at home – a fantastic opportunity to close the gap on Manchester City and advance in the cups. Given recent history it would be easy for Arsenal to go into this match thinking the result is a foregone conclusion but Liverpool and Swansea have both shown that Chelsea can be frustrated and got at.
We also cannot take for granted that Chelsea sans Mourinho will make Costa less of a shithouse or that the officials will apply the fair rule of law to this menace. Arsenal played their last two games against Chelsea with 10 men and it made a hard task even harder. Arsenal’s defenders must be wary of Robert Davi’s evil spawn, especially Mustafi who has no experience of facing this devious forward. Gabriel was too easily rattled by Costa last season to costly effect and if Arsenal are to prevail here they simply must finish with 11 men on the field.
Olivier Giroud could return from his toe injury but faces a late fitness test. Usually I would say that Giroud is our best outlet through the middle but with the return of Sideshow Bob I think Lucas Pérez would be the wisest choice. His movement and willingness to chase down balls will put David Luiz under pressure and he’s not the most competent of defenders.
The real danger man for Arsenal could be Theo Walcott. It is easy to underestimate Theo and easier still to dismiss his effectiveness and contribution to Arsenal but never be fooled into thinking he isn’t a big game player. Of all players in both squads no player has more goals in this league fixture than Walcott (3) and I fancy him to get on the score sheet again. It’s taken a while for him to start showing his best form and I think his renewed defensive effort has afforded him some slack from the crowd which has helped him rediscover his movement. I’d even go as far as to say he’s been Arsenal’s second best performer after Koscielny in this campaign.
At his best he is devastating and the problem with Theo is he’s always been a 9/10 player or a 3/10 player. This season he’s been a consistent 6-7/10 and that’s not to be sniffed at. He has another gear in him and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him put in a 9/10 performance against Chelsea.
Coquelin and Cazorla have been the preferred partnership so far this season but it might be prudent to go with a more steely partnership in what is likely to be a fraught contest. Arsenal haven’t won a league game against Chelsea since 2011 but I fancy that to change tomorrow.
Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Xhaka; Özil; Alexis, Lucas, Walcott
I expect to see substitute appearances from Ox, Giroud and Cazorla.
“It’s always difficult to pick my team because everybody is doing well, we have seen that again against Nottingham Forest so it’s positive. We have a balanced, mature squad where there is a fight for every single position.” – Arsène Wenger
Last 3 Meetings
- Arsenal 0-1 Chelsea (24.01.2016)
- Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal (19.09.2015)
- Arsenal 1-0 Chelsea (02.08.2015)
Having started the season well under new manager Antonio Conte, Chelsea find themselves under scrutiny after being beaten by Liverpool more comfortably than the final score suggested. Chelsea have only kept one clean sheet in seven matches this season, against Burnley, and with injuries to Terry and Zouma to add to the designs of a new manager it could take the Blues a while to find their solidity.
- Chelsea are unbeaten in nine Premier League meetings with Arsenal (W6, D3).
- The Gunners have failed to score in their last six league games against Chelsea.
- The Blues haven’t lost any of their last five league visits to the Emirates (W2, D3) since a 3-1 defeat in December 2010. They’ve conceded just one goal in that run.
- Arsenal have had four players sent off in their last five Premier League meetings with Chelsea.
- Conte has not lost consecutive league games since December 2009 while at Atalanta.
- The Gunners are looking to record four successive Premier League wins for the first time since a five-match streak in October 2015.
- Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte could go three league games without a win for the first time since a run of four draws with Juventus in March 2012.
- Arsenal have lost just one of their last 15 league matches (W8, D6).
- Diego Costa has scored five goals in five Premier League games this season, scoring each of Chelsea’s last three in the division.
- Alexis Sanchez has failed to score in his last four league appearances at home.
- The Blues have kept just one clean sheet in their last 12 league games, while they have conceded in each of their last six away league fixtures.
- Theo Walcott has more league goals from this fixture (3) than any other player from either side. John Terry also has three.
2-1 to Arsenal. Walcott to score first and another Xhaka rocket to win.
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