Stamford Bridge, London
Saturday, 19th September 2015, 1245 GMT
Chelsea FC take on fierce London rivals Arsenal FC in the early kick-off on Saturday at Stamford Bridge, hoping to get their floundering season back on track after the club’s worst start to the season in Premier League history
Jos Mourinho faces the unusual prospect of facing old foe ArsA?ne Wenger with his team six points below Wenger’s men, knowing that a defeat would snuff out any remote chance of retaining the English Premier League title.
Having already beaten Mourinho’s Chelsea FC earlier this season in the F.A. Community Shield, Arsenal FC will head to Stamford Bridge confident of getting a result against the Blues as they look to keep alive their hopes of winning their first league title in twelve years.
The London derby is never short of sub-plots, with Chelsea FC legend Petr A?ech set to make his first appearance at Stamford Bridge following his summer move to the Gunners. The television cameras are also likely to be fixated on the two managers before the game, given that the ‘handshake’ controversy in the aftermath of the Community Shield at Wembley has raised questions over whether the coaches will extend that courtesy to each other prior to kick-off on Saturday.
Team News and Tactics
Blues’ boss Jos Mourinho will be without Brazilian Willian for Saturday’s game, while a late decision is expected to be made on Colombian striker Radamel Falcao, as well as midfielders Pedro Rodr guez and Oscar. The Chelsea FC No 8 did start against Maccabi Tel-Aviv in midweek, but is not yet fully match fit given he returned to the side after a fairly protracted spell on the sidelines.
The Portuguese manager is unlikely to play an attacking 4-2-3-1, with a 4-3-3 formation likely to be preferred. If it is a 4-2-3-1, Brazilian midfielder Ramires could start on the right of the attacking midfield three, but will play a more withdrawn role than the likes of Eden Hazard on the opposite wing.
The former Benfica midfielder’s presence on the right flank would also help Chelsea FC vice-captain Branislav Ivanovi deal with the sizeable threat of Chilean attacker Alexis SA?nchez, who is likely to start on the left of the Gunners’ attacking midfield three.
In defensive transitions, Ramires will take up a more central position alongside Nemanja Mati as he did against Manchester City, giving former Arsenal FC captain Cesc F bregas the freedom to play further up the pitch. Oscar’s presence could prove to be pivotal, given the 24-year-old’s importance to the team not only in terms of its defensive philosophy — which encourages pressing high up the pitch — but also when the Blues have the ball and are looking to attack.
Mourinho will be concerned about his porous midfield against Wenger’s men, who are among the best sides in the division at attacking through the centre, and is thus likely to try and congest the centre of the park and deny Arsenal FC the time and space to play their natural game.
The pace in the Gunners’ attack is another major threat to Chelsea FC, particularly given the lack of it in their back-line, and Frenchman Kurt Zouma could thus retain his place in the side alongside captain John Terry, who is expected to be reinstated into the Blues’ starting XI.
Belgian Eden Hazard has been out of form this season, but could find joy down the Gunners’ right if Mourinho’s men are able to catch Bellerin out of position during counter-attacks, something that occurred frequently in the corresponding fixture last season when Hazard was up against Calum Chambers.
Possible starting XI: Begovi ; Ivanovi , Zouma, Terry (C), Azpilicueta; Mati , F bregas; Ramires, Oscar, Hazard; Diego Costa
ArsA?ne Wenger is set to welcome midfielder Aaron Ramsey and right-back H ctor Beller n to the starting line-up, but Germany international Per Mertesacker remains a doubt as he recovers from illness. Petr A?ech will start in goal and make his first competitive appearance at Stamford Bridge with an away team.
The F.A. Community Shield win against Chelsea FC would not only have given the Gunners a massive morale-boost, but also given Wenger the perfect blue-print to beat Mourinho’s men come Saturday afternoon.
The Frenchman will likely persist with a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Aaron Ramsey potentially coming in on the right of the attacking midfield three as Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin occupy the central midfield positions. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s performance in the Community Shield might tempt Wenger to play the young England international, who could take up a position on the right wing at the expense of Ramsey or Cazorla.
The 65-year-old will be well aware of the problems in the Chelsea FC midfield and defence, and could exploit them with what is an exceptionally quick Arsenal FC attack. As such, Theo Walcott could be given the nod ahead of Frenchman Olivier Giroud up front.
Walcott’s pace and the passing ability of the Gunners’ midfield — particularly that of record signing Mesut zil — mean that the England international could be a big threat with his runs in behind the Blues defence. The 26-year-old is likely to try and isolate himself against the likes of Terry as much as possible, something that cost the Blues against Everton, as Steven Naismith scored his third goal in the second half.
Francis Coquelin’s presence in midfield will again be of massive importance to Arsenal FC, and the Frenchman will look to break up any Chelsea FC counter-attacks during the course of the game. The dynamic defensive midfielder might also have to help out his right-back to deal with the threat of Eden Hazard, who has tended to take up more central positions in the attacking third this season.
Possible starting XI: A?ech; Beller n, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Cazorla (C); Ramsey, zil, SA?nchez; Walcott
- Chelsea FC are unbeaten against Arsenal FC in the last 7 Premier League meetings between the two, with the Blues winning four and drawing three.
- A goal for Eden Hazard would be his 50th for Chelsea FC, with the Belgian’s last goal for the Blues coming against Crystal Palace last season.
- ArsA?ne Wenger’s win against Jos Mourinho in the F.A. Community Shield was his first in 14 attempts; the Frenchman is yet to beat the Portuguese in a Premier League match.
- Chelsea FC have not conceded a goal against Arsenal FC in five of their last seven league meetings, including the previous four.
- Mourinho has never lost consecutive league fixtures at home as a manager.
Player to watch out for
The Brazil-born Spain international has not made the best start to the new season, scoring just twice in six appearances for the Blues. However, Diego Costa was on hand in midweek against Maccabi Tel-Aviv to volley a delicious F bregas ball into the box in the top corner.
The Spanish duo were largely responsible for the start Chelsea FC made to the 2014-2015 season, and combined in the corresponding fixture last season to seal the win for the Blues. Diego Costa has already spoken about targeting Saturday’s London derby to turn the club’s season around, and the striker will be fired up to try and make that happen.
Chelsea FC 1 – 1 Arsenal FC
The Blues will be fired up for the derby and will be looking to get their season back on track, but the Gunners will also be looking to make a mark following their disappointing defeat in the Champions League to Dinamo Zagreb.
In what is likely to be a tight game where both sides will be reluctant to commit in the early stages, a draw is on the cards for the London derby at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Blast from the past