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Arsenal v Chelsea Match Preview


Ashburton Grove

29th September, 2012


On Sky

Arsenal and Chelsea both come into this match unbeaten so far this season. Like the Gunners, the visitors are undergoing something of a transformation in their forward line, with new purchases such as Hazard and Oscar enjoying similarly impressive starts to life in England as Cazorla and Podolski.

There's always added spice when these two sides meet and with the controversies of the week for the visitors, this time will be no exception. Both teams are still finding their feet with new players and new styles, so it's set to be an intriguing match.

Vital Quotes:

Arsene Wenger has hinted at his selection dilemma upfront for the visit of London rivals Chelsea. Gervinho has scored three quite typical striker's goals playing from the centre this season, whilst Olivier Giroud is off the mark in his Gunners career.

'Up front affects the [whole] team," he told Arsenal Player. "Whether you have a more mobile player or a more [physical] player affects the passing of the team.

"We can be efficient with both styles, I even think we can combine the two which I try to do in some games. It is good, you cannot play a season with one striker.

"We have many strikers. Walcott can play through the middle as well, so we have good options that we will try through the season.

"The season is very long, we have only played five games now [in the Premier League] so we will have the chance to test all of the solutions."

Meanwhile, Roberto di Matteo is relishing the prospect of pitting his wits against Arsenal, ''It is a big game every time Arsenal and Chelsea play each other. It is two teams in good form and I think it is going to be an exciting game, so I am looking forward to it.

'We are in good shape, good form and the spirit is good. I think we have a very good team that is capable of beating Arsenal. Didier Drogba has been a fantastic player for many years for this club but we have to move on.'

Arsenal Team News:

Arsenal will recall senior players that were given the night off against Coventry on Wednesday. Thomas Vermaelen is available again after a virus, Emmanuel Frimpong is not considered quite sharp enough for this game yet followin a knee injury.

Bacary Sagna is back in full training but still short. Tomas Rosicky (achilles), Wojciech Szczesny (ribs), Jack Wilshere, Lukasz Fabianski (shoulder)aren't available.

Player to watch: Mikel Arteta

Chelsea nominally play with two central midfielders compared to Arsenal's 3, so it's a good opportunity for the Gunners to dominate from there. But their ability to do so will hinge on Mikel Arteta's negotiation of Chelsea's fleet of 'number 10' types. Oscar, Hazard and Mata all like to drift centrally. Whomever of that trio plays, will need to be well marshalled by Arteta in particular so that Cazorla can work on worrying Chelsea higher up the pitch.

Chelsea Team News:

For Chelsea, John Terry will play as he contemplates an appeal over a four match ban handed to him by the F.A. after being found guilty of using racial language. His ban doesn't come into effect until such time that an appeal cannot be lodged.

Frank Lampard has recovered from a minor ankle knock, but Daniel Sturridge has yet to recover from a hamstring injury.

Player to watch: Eden Hazard

Drogba's brute strength may no longer be a worry, but in Hazard, Chelsea have a player well capable of hurting Arsenal from nothing. He has the quick feet, skill and vision to produce even in a quiet period.

Match Facts & Stats

Chelsea haven't beaten Arsenal sans Didier Drogba since 2004.

Arsenal and Chelsea have met 176 times. Arsenal have won 70 encounters, Chelsea 54. There have been 52 draws.

Theo Walcott has scored in 2 of his last 3 starts against Chelsea and has scored against them 4 times overall.

Vito Mannone and Petr Cech are 1st and 2nd respectively in shots to saves ratio this season so far.

Ref Watch:

Referee is Martin Atkinson.

Match Prediction:

I think there will be very little in this. I'm going for a 1-1 draw with Hazard and Cazorla scoring the goals.

Next Fixtures:

Arsenal's next fixture is at home to Olympiacos on Wednesday. I couldn't give a hairy rat's arse who Chelsea are playing next.

Writer:Tim Stillman
Date:Friday September 28 2012
Time: 7:32PM

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1st game of the season for me, shame it's an early kick off, always a flatter atmosphere and never enough time for beer beforehand.
28/09/2012 19:49:00
Yeah midday ko's always strangle the atmos. No beer beforehand, no match build up. You get out of bed and go straight to the game. They're feckin rubbish.
Little Dutch
28/09/2012 20:37:00
what times the tolly open? half elev? does it open earlier to accommodate the crappy schedule? ... feck it i might just start drinking now.
28/09/2012 21:28:00
I'm already ahead of you :) They open at 11am.
Little Dutch
28/09/2012 21:35:00
I'll be banging on the door at ten to :) Have to say the fact so many gooners seem over confident with this fixture make me a lot more nervous than I'd normally be.
28/09/2012 21:56:00
I'm quite confident that we'll beat Chelsea tomorrow. We have home advantage, we'll have more possession and we will twist their defence with a fluid offense. 2-0 to the Arsenal.
28/09/2012 21:59:00
Still thinking a draw, both teams have players that can hurt you even if it looks like a stalemate. Just hope it's one of our magicians that pulls the rabbit out!
Little Dutch
28/09/2012 22:01:00
Niko, I share that concern too, re: the over confidence of Gooners. But I sit back and consider just how much better we can keep the ball and how much better we are in midfield and I think that Chelsea's only way out of a defeat will be to park the bus and hope to catch us on the break. If we are on our game, even such a tactic will fail them because we have quick players too. It will be close, but we should nick it.
28/09/2012 22:15:00
LD, read your "talking heads" comment on the club site (good one there, by the way) where you suggested that Gervinho should start as striker with Ramsey playing the same role he did at the Etihad. I feel that we are at Home this time and should play to our strengths; as such, Giroud should start in a front 3 that includes Poldi and Gervinho or Oxlade-Chamberlain. This will mean a midfield without Ramsey, much as I like his work rate. He should have a role at some point in the game though, whether we are chasing the game or protecting a lead (that's a measure of how useful he can be). This is one match I just so want us to win. A lot is at stake and it will be a game for 'big men'. An unmissable game.
28/09/2012 22:31:00
Indeed it is unmissable Naija, and I do agree with your choice of Giroud up front, he should have more confidence after scoring and I think he'll provide a physical challenge for Cahill and Luiz. I'm only wondering whether we should pit Walcott against Cole. Ok, he always tears Cole apart recently , but not in th 0-0 last season, and that is my worry: Walcott lacks the technique and skill to beat a deep defence. So maybe the more skilful Gervinho or Oxlade-Chamberlain may be better. RW is my main concern. I think Arshavin should be on the bench, he was great on Wednesday. As for the defence, I'm not too worried whoever plays but I think I'd prefer Vermaelen and Mertesacker today as Koscielny, despite his goal, had some worrying moments against City. Our defence will cope with Hazard, Mata and Oscar. Do not worry about that, we will put so much pressure on Chelsea's central midfield that those three would not be able to function to their best.
28/09/2012 22:45:00
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