Every single one of us, by that I mean all Arsenal fans, surely do not mind if the repeat of last season’s score was to happen again later today. That 5-3 win at Stamford Bridge last season remains one of the highlights of last season. The only drawback of watching that again is the change of emotions it involves. The joy of watching John Terry eating dirt to the despair of watching that “fella” benefiting from it. Nothing like fresh memories to replace that, something which could happen today.
For that to happen, we’ll need to play to what we’re capable of. The cowardice performance at Old Trafford or the non-show at Carrow Road should not be allowed to rear their heads. Of course there should be an element of fear going into the game. After all, regardless of the way Chelsea won the Champions League, they did win it and that’s why we should not undermine them. Even with them not being in the best form, they still have enough good players in their side to put a dent in our hopes to move closer to the top of the table.
In Mata, they have a schemer who is in the mould of Santi Cazorla and we’ll have to make sure that we don’t lose sight of him when he runs between the lines. Nor should we afford him too many free kicks as we found to our cost back in the reverse fixture at the Grove, earlier this season. In Demba Ba, they have a player who tormented us despite his then Newcastle side crashing to a 7-3 defeat to us. The Senegalese has the physical strength and clever positioning to put us in trouble. Topping up the trio of threats is Eden Hazard, someone who we coveted for ages before his propped up at Chelsea.
That said, there are cracks to be found in the Chelsea armour. Rafa Benitez is contemplating reinstalling Terry to their defence and that could only be good news for us. The Chelsea captain might not be fully fit and we have to capitalise on that. Olivier Giroud could prove to be a handful to the former England captain, if not, then LANS Theo Walcott has pace to burn that will leave Terry out of sight. If Frank Lampard should continue at the base of their midfield, that should mean even more lack of pace that we could exploit.
As for our line-up, I’m torn between fielding our best line-up available and ensuring that we don’t put too much stress on Abou Diaby’s fragile body. 3 games in a week could be a tall order for the just-returned leggy Frenchman. The other thought is that he could break down again at any moment and it would foolish of us not to fully utilise him before then. It’s a balancing act which falls into the responsibility of the manager and the coaching staff. I wouldn’t take such risk. For me, Aaron Ramsey has to come in and replace Diaby with Jack Wilshere pulled back alongside Francis Coquelin.
Which is not exactly the preferred option, given how well Wilshere did in the last game, in that more advanced attacking role. A role which like so many others, I believe is the one where he would truly flourish into one of the best players in the world. For that to happen, he will have to continually be played in that position. If only we had 3 Wilsheres, then they would all play in midfield and we’ll have nothing to worry about. However, until men masters the art of cloning, we’ll have to make do with what we have. His driving runs could undo Lampard and ensure that Ramires have to sit deep to help out his team mate, thus relieving us of the Brazilian’s own driving runs forward.
For our LANS, from now on it’s about Walcott proving to everyone that he is worth the money we’re paying him. It’s a big pressure on his shoulders to be highest earner at the club because now the spotlight will truly be on him. Not only from the outside looking in, where fans would expect him to produce performances matching his salary. However, from the inside, his will also have to produce performances that makes his team mates recognise and acknowledge him as one of the best players in the club. It’s a big step for Walcott, who has dip a little in his performances since he was last on the same pitch as Ba. He can no longer shirk from the responsibility. Time to stand up and be counted.
If all else fails, we do have good options from the bench to bring on, shall we need to change the game. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski are the options that we can call upon (though, would dearly love to add Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa to that list. Damn you Carr). I’m hopeful that the boys will be up for this game and prove once again who are the top dogs in London.
Up The Arsenal!