Ever since the Fixture calendar decided that Arsenal will visit Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday there have been endless discussion as to how influential Cesc Fabregas will be in this match and how his chemistry with his Gunners boss Arsene Wenger would affect the proceedings. However, there is another midfielder who will be much more influential to this game and would perhaps dictate how things turnout for the hosts in this match. Case in Point: Nemanja Matic.
Every Chelsea fan remembers the last time Arsene Wenger brought his North Londoners to the Stamford Bridge in March; he had not been able to beat a Jose Mourinho side for ten games in a row. He hoped, just as he would be hoping to beat the Blues on Sunday. Though a lot has changed since then.
Arsenal now have Alexis Sanchez in their ranks. Their attacking prowess is considerably improved. Mesut Ozil seems to be getting his mojo back. But there is the little question of his side’s defensive frailties. That begins from the defensive midfield as in Mikel Arteta(injured) and Mathieu Flamini. Both players have crossed the 30th years of age and while they may still be good players but clearly, that is not the ideal age-frame for teams that want to win the Premier League. Yes, they may help you claim the FA Community Shields, but against a team that has already thrashed you 6-0, you’ve got to do better than start players that have arrived on free transfers.
On the corresponding position at Chelsea is a certain Serb, Nemanja Matic. Whose stature has been growing with every passing week, so much that he has been termed a ‘Monster in Midfield’. Whether he devours the Arsenal players standing in front of him or not, one thing that he would certainly do with ease and command would be to keep in check the marauding attacking midfielders in the Arsenal side. He has got a passing accuracy of more than 80%. Matic can also impose himself on anyone to win the ball regularly and is certainly among the best defensive midfielders in the world at the moment. His passing and distribution are enviable. Matic has also shown the ability to score and assist in the recent games, all this makes up for a mouth-watering Midfield-Monster-Matic.
Nemanja Matic weighs a staggering 1.94 m (76.37 inches) and weighs 84 kg, quite clearly that is some monstrous physical presence. In contrast, Mathieu Flamini, who is his counterpart in the Gunner’s lineup, weighs a paltry 67 kg and measures up at 1.78 m (70.07 inches). Now that is a very big difference when it comes to field presence and ability to bully each other off the ball. You don’t need to be Einstein or Newton to figure out the clear winner here.
So here’s all we know: Chelsea can either match or excel Arsenal in their best department: attacking midfield. Hazard, Schurrle, Oscar, Willian and Salah. No matter what configuration of the above AMs is chosen they can always go one better to what Arsenal have at offer. Add to that the cutting edge added by Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa. Clearly they all match up to anything that Arsenal can threaten Chelsea with. I’m being generous here because perhaps ‘match up’ is only an indicative phrase. ‘Thumping’ would be better suited, but let it be for now.
Arsenal’s defense is a famed story. Everyone knows about it, everyone talks about it. Nobody seems to be able to do anything about it. Not even Arsene Wenger. The Frenchman doesn’t even feel the need for back-ups to players like Calum Chambers. The likes of Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Azpilicueta blow that defence away. Adding insult to injury would be the presence of Kurt Zouma and Felipe Luis in the Chelsea line-up.
On the goal-keeping front, Thibaut Courtois is peerless in much of the world, let’s not bother with any Gunners trying to match up to the 1.99m tall Belgian.
The Decisive Edge:
Now lets come back to the defensive midfield. We are paying so much attention to this part of the field because much of the game would be decided in this part of the pitch. The team that is able to break up the opponent’s play and distribute the ball to its attackers would be the one that gets the better out of this game. Clearly Matic would not be allowing the Gunners to take anything away from him, he is simply capable of outdoing anything their midfield has at its disposal. This provides one of the best covers that there is to a great defense; that is yet to find the best of its form.
So it is quite clear that despite all the buzz regarding Cesc Fabregas lining up against his old employers, the game would perhaps be decided by a much more subtle, silent, under-rated player who hails from Serbia and goes by the name Matic-the-Monster. Let the monstrosity be Unleashed!