Arsenal kept their hopes of winning the Premier League title alive with a gritty win over rivals Tottenham last week. The Gunners now prepare to take on another London rival in the form of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and the match could arguably turn out to be Arsenal’s season defining moment.
The game on Saturday afternoon between the two sides not only holds a lot of significance in terms of the title race, but also due to the fact that the clash will mark legendary manager Arsene Wenger’s 1000th game in-charge as Arsenal boss.
The Frenchman would perhaps want nothing more than to celebrate such a momentous occasion with a first victory over the man who ironically labeled him a ‘Specialist in Failure’ – Jose Mourinho, and end the Portuguese manager’s proud unbeaten record at Stamford Bridge in the process.
The probable Arsenal lineup against Chelsea –
Wojciech Szczesny had a couple of heart stopping moments against Tottenham last week, but somehow managed to keep a clean sheet. However, the Pole can ill-afford such errors against a quality side like Chelsea and Wenger will certainly be excepting a much more confident performance from his number one custodian come Saturday afternoon.
Despite Szczesny looking shaky, the back four of Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny and Kieran Gibbs were simply magnificent and will surely retain their place in the lineup for the clash against Chelsea.
Mertesacker and Koscielny, in particular, were a rock at the back for Arsenal against Spurs and if the duo can replicate such a performance, the Chelsea attack will certainly have a tough time breaching the Gunners’ backline. The duo of Nacho Monreal and Thomas Vermaelen will once again have to be content with a place on the bench.
Wenger still has a lot of injury problems in midfield to contend with ahead of the clash. The likes of Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby are definitely ruled out, but Kim Kallstorm could be in contention for the first time for Arsenal since his move to the club in January.
Wenger may resist the temptation of making too many changes to the midfield which started against Spurs, meaning that that the trio of Tomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla will most probably start once again at the middle of the park, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski will be deployed on the flanks. Mathieu Flamini and Serge Gnabry will be available for selection as well.
Olivier Giroud has not enjoyed the best of spells during his last couple of matches, but the striker will surely be leading the line for Arsenal at Stamford Bridge, with young Yaya Sanogo waiting on the wings if things do not go according to plan for Arsenal.
Szczesny; Gibbs, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Sagna; Podolski, Arteta, Rosicky, Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Giroud