On Saturday, March 22nd, League leaders Chelsea welcome Arsenal to Stamford Bridge for a huge encounter. The two clubs are separated by only four points at the top.
Both clubs need three points in this match in their pursuit of the Premier League crown this year. These clubs drew in the previous match 0-0 at The Emirates in December.
The first thing to watch in this game is how each team lines up. Chelsea played ultra defensive at The Emirates last time out, but expect them to go with a typical 4-2-3-1. Arsenal have some injury concerns of their own, but they should lineup in the same formation as Chelsea.
A key figure in this match will be Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Arsenal. He has been employed in one of the two holding midfield roles of late and has done a fantastic job there. He will be asked to sit next to Arteta and try to contain the likes of Hazard, and Oscar and Schurrle. If he is able to contain the attacking trio plus the striker, Arsenal will have a great chance of winning.
For Chelsea, Willian and Ramires are suspended so they will be without two vital players in the midfield. Look for David Luiz to come into that holding midfield role alongside Matic. Luiz has looked better as a holding midfielder, as opposed to a center back. He needs to sit in there and contain Arsenal’s attacking threats.
Every time Chelsea play, its key for their full backs to get forward and provide width. Chelsea need Azpilicueta and Ivanovic to dash forward in the attack, to give Hazard and Oscar space to cut inside and create chances to score. If Chelsea’s full backs are able to get wide in attack, they will be able to whip in dangerous crosses.
Arsenal are without the likes of Ozil, and Wilshere, and still Ramsey, so Rosicky is important for them in this match. He scored the winner in the North London derby last week against Spurs. Rosicky needs to float around and give Chelsea’s backline problems. Arsenal are at their best when the midfielders are able to link up and switch constantly.
Arsenal, who for the most part lack and out right winger, need to have their full backs get forward to counter Chelsea’s. Podolski, for the most part should be out on the left hand side and provide width. But it will be important for Gibbs and Sagna to get forward and allow Cazorla and Rosicky to get in the holes inside.
For Chelsea, they are at home so expect Eto’o to start. Eto’o has scored every goal this season at Stamford Bridge. Eto’o has looked sharper as the season has progressed and has been linking up well with his midfielders. He needs to make runs in behind and outside to run off some defenders, to give Oscar and Hazard space to shoot or slip in. If Eto’o is active and not stationary, he will make it difficult for Mertesacker and Koscielny to mark him.