Arsenal vs CHELSEA: Preview

Venue: The Emirates

Date: Monday, 27 December

Kick-off: 2000 GMT

With our last game called off and United winning against Sunderland yesterday, to suggest we need a result from tonight’s game is taking the art of understatements a bit too far .

We looked to have picked up against Spurs and whilst plenty might point to conspiracy theories and Roman ordering snow showers to give us a breather, it might have benefited us to keep some momentum going.

Still, our record against Arsenal isn’t exactly poor and if the right Didier Drogba turns up, we could keep that run going tonight – and we need to and all.

MANAGER’S VIEWS

Ahead of tonight’s game, Wenger hopes home advantage works in their favour, suggesting “Chelsea have gone through a period where results are a bit less good but that can happen to anyone in this league. We have seen recently that any team, when you think they are on the brink of breaking through, can have a hiccup. Maybe it’s just the quality of the league. You never know whether it’s the best time to play Chelsea. Every game is specific and a new start. We know that on Monday we will play against a top team and we do not expect any weakness on their side. We want to put a top-level performance in at the Emirates and show we are masters at home.”

Carlo Ancelotti meanwhile, seems a bit more focused on the gap United are creating, stating “It is an important game obviously because both teams are involved in the fight for the title. Arsenal, Man City and Tottenham has the opportunity and skill to fight for the title until the end. I think it will be a race with balance because a lot of teams have the possibility to win, not just Chelsea and Man United. I don’t want to say that the game against Arsenal is more important than Bolton, it is the same. We have to do the best to take three points. It is a very important period. I think we used well these 15 days to train and I have confidence that my team moved on from a difficult moment. Manchester United are having fantastic results. They didn’t lose a game so they are able to obtain results continuously. We don’t want this gap increasing, so it is important to obtain a result.”


SQUAD NEWS

For Arsenal, Vermaelen (Achilles), Almunia (ankle) Gibbs (ankle) and Frimpong (knee), are all out. Goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski returns to the squad, Abou Diaby (ankle) is available and Fabregas and van Persie should make their first start together since August.

For Chelsea, Alex (leg), Yuri Zhirkov (calf) and Yossi Benayoun (Achilles) remain sidelined. Jose Bosingwa returns to the squad and Frank Lampard is restored to the starting line-up for the first time since late August.


TEAMS

ARSENAL (from): Fabianski, Szczesny, Clichy, Squillaci, Koscielny, Sagna, Nasri, Fabregas, Wilshere, Song, Walcott, van Persie, Chamakh, Arshavin, Vela, Rosicky, Djourou, Denilson.

CHELSEA (from): Cech, Turnbull, Bosingwa, Hilario, Ivanovic, Ferreira, Cole, Terry, Essien, Lampard, Mikel, Ramires, McEachran, Malouda, Kalou, Drogba, Anelka, Bruma, Sturridge, Kakuta, Van Aanholt.


LAST MEETING

Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal (3 October 2010)


REFEREE

Mark Clattenburg


PREDICTION

Well our record of just 2 defeats from our last 18 meetings against Arsenal should inspire us. We’ve won the last 5 against them, and Didier Drogba, with 8 goals against them in the league, should be looking to terrorise an Arsenal side that’s lost 3 at home so far this season. On the downside though, our return of 6 points from the last 7 games is our worst run since 1998, so who knows what we can hope for?


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