Opposition Scouting Report: Arsenal
Losing three league games in a row must be a pretty lousy feeling. I’ve never felt it as a Chelsea fan. The lousiest feeling that I have experienced is the one after a loss against Arsenal. I can’t ever imagine combining the two.
But that may be exactly what happens this weekend, as Arsenal come to Stamford Bridge looking to pile further misery on a Chelsea side whose title defence isn’t going according to plan, to say the least. Four points from five games mean that the Blues are hovering just above the relegation zone in 17th. We’ve lost our lost two games, at home to Crystal Palace and away to Everton. On both those occasions, we were well-beaten.
Here, we take a detailed look at how the Gunners are shaping up ahead of this fixture and analyse a couple of areas that Chelsea could exploit.
There are two long-term injury absentees for Arsenal – Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck. The two Englishman won’t be featuring anytime soon.
Arsene Wenger made a whole host of changes for their midweek Champions League game against Dinamo Zagreb, with the likes of Mathieu Debuchy, Kieran Gibbs and Mikel Arteta given run-outs. They are expected to revert to their usual lineup on Saturday after the above-mentioned individuals gave the manager no reason whatsoever to consider otherwise.
Gabriel will continue at centre-half despite Per Mertesacker’s return while I’m quite sure it will be Theo Walcott who starts up front ahead of Olivier Giroud. The Englishman always seems to scores against us!
Unsurprisingly, Arsenal are in 4th place in the league table. They have won 3, drawn 1 and lost 1 of their 5 fixtures so far, but have a perfect record away from home. Their football hasn’t been as free-flowing as usual, but the results have drastically improved following a shock defeat on the opening day of the season against West Ham United at home.
They do, though, come into this game on the back of a defeat, becoming the first side in this century to lose to Dinamo Zagreb. They gave a listless performance in Croatia, and fans were left pulling their hair out in frustration.
The defence, which has often let Arsenal down in the past, has held firm of late. Gabriel and Laurent Koscielny have been solid while Nacho Monreal has been one of the most-improved left-backs in the league over the last year. They also have this guy between the sticks by the name of Petr Cech, who only happens to be the goalkeeper with the highest number of clean sheets ever in the Premier League. No, I’d never heard of him before this either!
The second strength is more down to our weakness. Despite Abdul Baba Rahman playing well against Maccabi Tel-Aviv, it is likely that Branislav Ivanovic will return to the starting line-up for this one. He will be one-on-one with Alexis Sanchez, one of the best players in the league. No prizes for guessing where the majority of their attacks are going to come from.
Arsenal have a weakness very similar to ours. They have one solid central midfielder, but his partner can be left exposed. Francis Coquelin is an absolute beast, but Santi Cazorla alongside him makes them vulnerable. The Spaniard is fantastic going forward and runs riot when the Gunners dominate possession. But in away games against the big sides, his tactical indiscipline is well on the show.
Another glaring weakness this season for Arsenal has been their poor finishing. They have the most shots on goal for any side this season but have only averaged a goal a game.
Possible Starting Line-up
Cech, Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Cazorla, Sanchez, Ozil, Ramsey, Walcott.
Chelsea simply can’t lose this one, or else the repercussions will be dramatic. Mourinho has never been beaten in the league by Wenger, and that record must stand, for us to have any hopes of retaining the title. When the best of the best are pushed into a corner, they lash out. I’m sure we’ll see that reaction from the Blues on Saturday, in a 2-1 home win.
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Edited By: Karan Dubey
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