After tactically destroying Manchester United last weekend, Mourinho’s men march to the Emirates Stadium to battle it out with another in-form team. Second-placed Arsenal host the Premier League leaders on Sunday in what could turn out to be a mouth-watering affair.
Arsenal’s recent form suggests they have gained great confidence and will try to derail a club who have been league leaders since August, 2014. It’s a must-win game for the Gunners if they want to stay in the race for the Premier League title at least mathematically.
Let’s analyze our opponents in our opposition scouting report:
Based in Holloway, London, Arsenal are on of the most decorated clubs in English football. Domestically, they have won 13 League titles, 11 FA Cups, and 2 League Cups. Their tally of 13 League Championships is the third highest in English football, after Manchester United (20) and Liverpool (18). Arsenal Football Club was founded in 1886 in Woolwich and became the first club from the south of England to join the Football League in 1893. In 2003-04, Arsenal became only the second club to finish a top-flight campaign unbeaten.
The Gunners will surely approach the game full of confidence. The last time the Gunners tasted defeat in a Premier League game was on 7th February against Tottenham. Since then, they have been on an eight-game winning streak and are second in the table with 66 points, 10 points behind Chelsea. With 33 points, Arsenal have won more points in 2015 than any other Premier League side. Their last victory was against Reading in the FA Cup semi-final. Wenger will hope his men carry the momentum going to into Sunday’s derby.
Last 5 games (All Competitions) – D-W-W-W-W
Just like Mourinho, Arsene Wenger has major injury concerns to deal with. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain misses out with his latest muscle injury while Per Mertesacker is expected to be replaced by Gabriel after suffering an ankle injury in the FA Cup semi-final. Captain Mikel Arteta was seen training after undergoing ankle surgery in January, but might not be thrown right into the action on Sunday.
Arsenal are expected to start in their revamped 4-1-4-1 formation and will remold it into a 4-2-3-1 as the game progresses. Wenger is expected to change his side from the one that defeated Reading. David Ospina will be back in goal ahead of Szczesny, the injured Mertesacker will be replaced by Gabriel, who will play alongside Koscielny in defense. Monreal will be positioned as the left-back and Bellerin on the right. Coquelin will be the holding midfielder guarding the centre-backs. The attacking midfield will see Sanchez on the left, Ramsey on the right with Ozil playing as the number 10 and Cazorla controlling the midfield. Oliver Giroud will be the lone striker and will look to keep the Chelsea centre-backs busy.
Strength – Key Player
Alexis Sanchez: The Chilean has been electrifying throughout this season. Sanchez has often baffled defenders with the pace he possesses, penetrating through the best of defenses. The former Barcelona man has attempted an assist 69 times with 43 on target, with a success rate of 62%. His link-up play with Ozil and Giroud has been impeccable, the Chilean has an assist tally of 8 and has scored 14 goals in 29 appearances. The ex-Barcelona man has taken Arsenal to the next level and has been nominated for the prestigious PFA Player of the Year award. It will be interesting to see if Mourinho opts for Kurt Zouma yet again to keep Alexis Sanchez quite throughout the 90 minutes.
With Per Mertesacker injured, the Gunners have a hole in their defense. Brazilian defender Gabriel has started only four games since joining Arsenal, it all comes down to experience during big games and having an experienced defender might just prove to be the turning point. Mertesacker will also be missed during set pieces as the German international puts his 6’6″ height to good use. Without the German present to defend crucial corners, the Gunners might find it tough keeping players like Terry, Ivanovic, Cahill and Matic quiet in the Arsenal box.
Head to Head
The last time the London clubs battled it out was on October 2014, with Chelsea defeating the Gunners 2-0. They have face each other 169 times with Arsenal winning 66 and Chelsea with 55; they have settled for a draw on 48 separate occasions.
– Chelsea have won their last five away matches in the Premier League.
– The Gunners have won their last nine home matches in the Premier League.
– Olivier Giroud has scored ten goals in his last twelve matches in all competitions.
– Eden Hazard has scored five goals in his last seven matches in all competitions.
– Arsenal have not beaten Chelsea at The Emirates since 2010.
It is a case of form against records, as Arsene Wenger hopes to defeat Mourinho and stop the Portuguese’s growing record against him. But the limelight will be stolen by Cesc Fabregas as the Spaniard returns to the Emirates for the first time after leaving the club for Barcelona in 2011. It remains to be seen what sort of reaction the former crowd favorite will receive from home supporters on Sunday. The French manager will look to capitalize on the fact that Chelsea would start without a proper striker. On the other hand, Mourinho will try and exploit Gabriel while keeping tabs on the dangerous Alexis Sanchez. Should Arsenal win, Chelsea’s title celebration will be delayed by another week and if the Blues come out victorious they’ll be 13 points clear with one hand on the Premier League title. It is bound to be a high-intensity London derby.
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Edited By: Vikram