CHELSEA FC

v

ARSENAL FC
Stamford Bridge, London
October 3rd, 2010, 8:30 PM IST

Arsenal will travel to Stamford Bridge to take on league leaders Chelsea in a match that cannot be labeled as “just another London Derby”, as it can have serious implications at the top of the table, rather than just being a game in which two rival teams face-off against each other in a typical derby with just emotions riding on the result. This is as big as it gets in London.

If the Blues win at the Bridge, the victory will be their fifth straight success over the Gunners in all competitions and will cement their place as table-toppers; on the other hand, an Arsenal win will not only close the gap at the top of the table to just a solitary point, but will also give them some self-belief that this may be their season after all.

Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger watches before the start of his team's Champions League Group H soccer match against Partizan Belgrade in Belgrade September 28, 2010. REUTERS/Marko Djurica (SERBIA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER IMAGES OF THE DAY)Le prefesseur – it’s time to raid the Bridge..

Both team come into this encounter on the back of humbling defeats – Chelsea failed to overcome Manchester City away from home, while Arsenal didn’t turn up against West Bromwich Albion at the Emirates. As it was expected, the game at the City of Manchester Stadium turned out to be a battle of the two midfields and the trio of Toure, de Jong and Barry won it for the “richest” club in the world. Arsenal, without their captain, allowed Di Matteo’s side to go 3-0 up, before Samir Nasri restored some respectability to the score-line, but the Frenchman’s late surge wasn’t enough. Arsene Wenger didn’t mince any words and was quoted saying “I couldn’t recognize my team today.”

There are striking similarities between the two London teams as we approach this mouth-watering London Derby, apart from losing their last game in the Premiership. Both teams have registered mid-week wins in Europe after the debacle, are without their most influential midfielder, and have an English midfield prodigy to write home about.

Jack Wilshere has started all games for Arsenal this season and is being groomed to replace Cesc Fabregas when the need arises. So far, he has justified Wenger’s faith in him by pulling all the right strings from the Arsenal midfield. His still younger compatriot, Joshua McEachran, who has been with Chelsea ever since he was eight years old, has been given his League Cup, Premier League and Champions’ League débuts by Carlo Ancelotti, who reckons the youngster to be ready to rub shoulders with the big boys.

Team News

Chelsea FC

Carlo Ancelotti will return to England on Sunday to take charge of his team; he had travelled to Italy after the sad demise of his father Giuseppe Ancelotti on Wednesday. Ray Wilkins believes football will help the Chelsea manager cope with his loss.

The most notable absentee will be Frank Lampard, who’s yet to recover from the groin injury that has kept him out of the last few games. Jose Bosingwa, the almost forgotten right-back, has featured in a few reserve games and is making steady progress, while Carling Cup casualties Kalou and Benayoun remain sidelined. Didier Drogba will return to the starting eleven after serving out his suspension against his former club Marseille.

Despite being over-run by the likes of Toure in the midfield, Ramires is expected to start against Arsenal as the Gunners’ midfield will not be physically overwhelming for the Brazilian. Kakuta and McEachran may see some action, although from the bench.

Possible Chelsea Starting Eleven: Cech, Ivanovic, Alex, Terry, Cole, Mikel, Essien, Ramires, Malouda, Drogba, Anelka

Arsenal FC

The odds are stacked against Cesc Fabregas taking the field against Chelsea, but big matches bring out the character of big players. The Spaniard may just surprise everybody!

Wenger may decide to stick with Fabianski after his decent performance against Partizan in Belgrade, even if Almunia recovers from his elbow injury. Diaby is expected to be available for selection, while Vermaelen, Bendtner, Van Persie and Walcott continue to keep the Arsenal physios busy. If, in the absence of Fabregas, Wenger decides to start with Wilshere against a dominating Chelsea midfield, it will be the toughest test for the youngster thus far in his career.

Possible Arsenal Starting Eleven: Fabianski, Sagna, Squillaci, Koscielny, Clichy, Song, Wilshere, Rosicky, Nasri, Arshavin, Chamakh

Football Fans Know Better

Key Facts

1. Arsenal lead the overall head-to-head record in the league; the north London team has beaten Chelsea 59 times in 146 games.

2. In the last four matches between the two sides in all competitions, not only has Chelsea come out on top on all four  occasions, but also has out-scored the Gunners 11-2.

3. If Chelsea lose this match, it will be after 159 Premiership games that the west London club will have lost two back to back games.

TheHardTackle’s PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Feb 07, 2010 - London, England, UK - Premier League: Chelsea 2 v 0 Arsenal.Chelsea's DIDIER DROGBA scores first goal and celebrates.Raring to go..


Didier Drogba (Chelsea)

Can we even consider any other name? Such has been the influence of the big Ivorian on this fixture over the years. Didier Drogba has so far scored 12 goals in 10 starts and 2 substitute appearances against Arsenal. Last season, he picked up a brace in both matches, and almost single-handedly powered the Blues to  victory. He would be raring to take on his favourite opponents, after a midweek rest. Arsene Wenger had once said “Drogba does not do enough on the pitch“; fortunately for Chelsea, their number 11 has not forgotten that till date. Arsenal’s new central defensive signings will have their task cut out.

TheHardTackle’s PREDICTION

Chelsea FC 2 – 1 Arsenal FC

TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST

36 Responses to “Chelsea v Arsenal: The Battle Of London”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Vikram Singh negi says:

    First of all, the formation that Arsenal play is more of a 4-3-3 changing to a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-5-1 in away games. Second, Arshavin never plays behind the lone man, Chamakh in this case, but he always plays on the left side of the 3 man attack. Nasri will be the one playing as the creative man behind Chamakh. Third, considering this is a tough away game with most of the attack coming from the left for Chelsea, I think Eboue will start in place of Rosicky for his defensive qualities and his endless running.

  2. Vikram Singh negi says:

    Also, what Wenger said was that Drogba doesnt do that much in a game, but such is his class that whatever he does is enough for opponents. Wenger didnt criticize him, but praised him.
    Is this preview written by a Chelsea fan?

  3. Sounak says:

    @VSN: The formation is never fixed for Arsenal. They will be changing positions all the time. Arshavin will play on Chamakh’s left. Nasri and Rosicky will be the creative man on both flanks. Wilshere should get a start considering his recent form. If Eboue does start, it will be a sacrifice of ‘creativeness’. But the option is certainly not counted out.

    This preview has been written by the in-house Arsenal/Chelsea team at THT.

  4. Howard Roark says:

    It will be just wonderful if both Wilshere and McEachran take the field for their respective teams! 😀

    Chelsea needs creativity in the centre and Josh can provide it. However, I feel it will take at least another season for him to start in such an high profile fixture.

    Despite the loss of his father, Carlito is expected to be present at the touch-line. This speaks volumes about the man’s character. I hope Chelsea can win this won for him.

  5. Vikram Singh negi says:

    @Sounak:
    I disagree with the position bit. Arshavin, whenever he has played, has started on the left and played there (apart from the Braga game, where he interchanged flanks with Nasri on many occasions, but even then he was a wide player).
    Nasri will be taking Fab’s position in this match.
    Rozza will not start, Eboue will. You can call it sacrificing creativity or strengthening the defense.
    Wilshere started against Sunderland, Spurs and Blackburn, three tough away matches. So, he should get the nod.