Writer: Brice Coffer
Date:Sunday November 30 2008
I hate the phrase 'a must win game` because it has been so eagerly overused in this modern era of football, almost to the point where its words have lost their true meaning, but it has to be said that for this Arsenal team to lift the Barclays Premier League trophy come May, this game, away to Stamford Bridge, is a must win game.
Arsenal got a much needed midweek win in Europe thanks to the pink boots of Nicklas Bendtner, though an exponentially improved performance will be required to take down Chelsea at home. I wanted Arsenal to be the team to break Chelsea`s hugely impressive home record, but Xabi Alonso and Liverpool already have claimed that honour early in the season. So let`s aim to continue the frustration that Chelsea has experienced against the big four at home this season, and claw ourselves back into the title race at the expense of the Blues.
Arsene knows the importance of this match. "We have been written off," said Wenger "You cannot say when you are 10 points behind that we are favourites to win the title but you can say as well the only way we will get back into it is to believe we can."
"That`s why we want to go into this game on Sunday by believing we can win."
"We know that direct confrontations with top teams become vital when you are in our position."
"But first of all we have to go there with extreme desire, express our strong points and not hide."
"There is no team that is not vulnerable. None in the world. And we can play and win everywhere in the world."
"We have not to consider too much who we play against. We know Chelsea are a great side with a great players. But at the end of the day you beat them if you play at your best."
He also spoke about Chelsea's head man. 'I met him in Japan because he was over there, although he did not stay for very long because he didn't like the sushi,' recalled Wenger.
'After that I met him when he was national coach of Portugal because he had some players in England and we kept good relations.'
'I have known him for a long time. I believe he has done well. He is a very experienced, extroverted man who does well. He has a big experience and football everywhere is the same. You want to win your games. He has dealt quite well with the problems he faces here.'
Scolari knows of the Gunners importance to the title race. 'You're only champions at the end of the last game. This is the first time I'll have played against Wenger - he's been my friend for 10 or 12 years now.'
'I met him for the first time in Japan and we are big friends. I like him as a coach. If I chose five coaches in the world as the best, he'd be one of the five.
'His team plays football, so it's difficult to win. They play beautiful football.
Chelsea will need to again use their massive, talented squad because they will be without many great players due to injury. Michael Essien (knee),Juliano Belletti (ankle), Franco di Santo, and Ricardo Carvalho (knee) have all been ruled out. Joe Cole injured his ankle in Europe midweek and is a major doubt for match. Big, Brazilian centre back Alex will be available for his manager. Didier Drgoba, who has constantly been a vexatious pain in Arsenal's side, is banned due to the infamous coin throwing incident against Burnley.
The former Arsenal player has hit his stride as of late for the Blues, and with the silky skills and deadly finishing that he still possess, he will be a threat to Arsenal's rickety defense.
Arsenal come into the game receiving three major boosts. Striker Emmanuel Adebayor will reclaim his throne as Arsenal's leading front man, while Vela and Bendtner will have to settle for a place on the bench. Bacary Sagna will return to the right back position, while Samir Nasri will look to repeat his goalscoring exploits from United against another colossal club.
Abou Diaby (abdominal strain), Theo Walcott (shoulder), Kolo Toure (calf), and Emmanuel Eboue (knee) will not play a part in Super Sunday.
Emmanuel shows up for big games, and after being on the treatment table while Arsenal suffered many a disappointments, he will be roaring and ready to go for this one. I still believe that he and van Persie form a great partnership as he occupies defenders while Robin can work in the space in front of them. I see his attitude and work ethic in his return boosting Arsenal's uncharacteristically low morale.
Home and away
League (inc PL): Chelsea 40 wins, Arsenal 58, Draws 44
Prem: Chelsea 6 wins, Arsenal 15, Draws 11
at Chelsea only
League (inc PL): Chelsea 23 wins, Arsenal 23, Draws 25
Prem: Chelsea 5 wins, Arsenal 5, Draws 6
Cesc Fabregas will be making his 150th Premier League appearance
Kolo Toure will be making his 300th appearance for Arsenal
Robin van Persie will be making his 100th start
Arsenal have won one the the last four Premier League games against rival clubs from the capital
Mike Dean will be the head official for this fixture. He leads all Barclay's Premier League referees in cards per game, as he has brandished 50 yellows and 5 reds in 5 BPL matches, giving him a even 5 card per game average.
I wasn't confident going into the Man U game but I went with a 2-1 scoreline anyways. I say the same for today, 2-1 to the Arsenal!
2/12 (Tue)- Burnley (A)- Carling Cup
6/12 (Sat)- Wigan (H)- Premier League
10/12 (Wed)- FC Porto (A)- Champions League
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Date:Sunday November 30 2008
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