Writer: Nick Simmonett
Date:Saturday December 9 2006
10th December 2006
Arsenal will be looking to cling on to whatever title hopes still remain on Sunday as they travel to Stamford Bridge looking to end Chelsea's astonishing unbeaten run at home.
Many will be tipping Chelsea to win the game fairly comfortably, espically considering Arsenal have most of thier star players missing.
Vital Chelsea may claim that they are the team that irritate us the most but I can assure them that this is not the biggest game of the season.
Cashley Tweedy (A.H/Cole) will be the centre of attention for players, pundits and fans alike (maybe it will make up for him feeling left out after the Champions League final?).
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger: 'I think it is a very good circumstance for us.
"It is a relief for the team to qualify for the Champions League [Knockout Stage] and we responded well last week with a good win over Tottenham.
'The morale in the squad is very high and I feel we can go there and beat them.
"I want to win the Premiership and it is a good chance on Sunday to reduce the gap between us and Chelsea. It is up to us to do it.
"It is always difficult to win there but I would give everything for us to do it and go on to win the title.
"It looks crazy, but the next game is Chelsea and it is a good opportunity for us. Man United are still a long way away but we have done well in the big games until now.
'This is an opportunity for us to show we have the character and the quality.
'I trust my players to deliver something special on Sunday."
Jose Mourinho says that he has much respect for Wenger but they will never be friends: 'For me he is a fantastic manager. I don't think we are the best friends. Not even friends. We are colleagues. And I have 200 per cent respect for the work he's done over the years. He's a fantastic manager, one of the best.'
The Blues manager also says that Arsenal are 'pretty' when they win: 'Pretty when they were champions without defeat, yes. Not pretty when they finish fourth, not pretty when they had to win their last game to qualify for the Champions League.'
Chelsea have only one injury concern - Carlo Cudicini. the Italian missed their midweek game against Levski Sofia. Hilario should start.
Ashley Tweedy is expected to get kicked, I mean is expected to start for Chelsea against his former employers. Terry, Makelele and Carvalho all return for the Blues.
The Ivorian enjoyed playing against Senderos last season and he's been in great form so far this season. He will look to bully Senderos and Djourou.
The Arsenal are missing several key players for the clash of Stamfod Bridge. Thierry Henry, Willy Gallas, Tomas Rosicky, Diaby and Lauren are all injred while the colossus that is Kolo Toue is suspended after picking up his 5th yellow card of the season against Tottenham last week.
Djourou shoul start with Senderos but Wenger could choose to drop Gilberto back into defence. Flamini and Baptista are in contention for the third centeral midfield role.
With such a long injry list the players, the manager and the Arsenal faithful will be looking to him for some inspiration. Expect the Spaniard to have a good go at Lampard and Ballack.
- Arsenal have won 50% (14/28) of the London derbies between the two teams.
- Arsenal have won 1 (Tottenham) lost 2 (West Ham and Fluham) of thier london derbies this season.
- Chelsea have beaten Arsenal only once in the leage at home in the last decade.
In his 15 matches this season referee Alan Wiley has dished out 43 yellow cards and 2 reds. He has officiated two Arsenal games (3-0 and 4-0 over Sheff Utd and Reading respectivly) Refs have been getting a lot of bad press of late, lets hope that this game can be remembered for it's football (and Arsenal victory) rather than for a shocking decision from the ref.
As usual it's over on the Forum. Gooners won't like it this week...
Vital Arsenal member ItsUpForGrabsNow: 'A lot of people, including the media, belive that we wont win. I however am feeling optimistic about playing Chelsea, People said we wouldn't win against Man Utd, Real Madrid etc, yet we played some great football and won the game.
Yes, not having Gallas or Toure playing is a massive blow, but we've had to deal with injuries like this before and come through it with flying colours. I think its fairly obvious he's (wenger) going to play Adebayor on his own up front in a 4-5-1, but i believe if we play Walcott on the wing from the start especially against Geremi he would absolutly cream him for pace.
Also play Baptista in Central midfield alongside Cesc as i think with Ballack, Lampard and Essien in CM we need a bit of Beef there. So get behind the team lets kick some Chav ass!!'
Date:Saturday December 9 2006
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