Venue: Emirates Stadium
Date: Saturday, 21 April
Kick-off: 12.45 GMT
Our players must be bloody knackered because it’s a struggle just keeping up with these previews lately. Our fixtures are relentless and having beaten ‘the best club on the planet’ a few days ago, today we get to play their sister-club – the prettiest club on the planet. Of course I’m not referring to how any of them actually look, since they’re about as aesthetically pleasing as Luke Chadwick. I am, of course, referring to their ‘beautiful game’.
It was a proper goal-fest last time out, although of 8 scored on the day, Arsenal had the lions share – I just hope with Didier Drogba out for this one, Torres turns ends up being the tiger to RVP’s pussy.
Obviously Arsene Wenger is a bit peeved we beat Barcelona, given that us actually doing the impossible in the Champions League could completely piss on Arsenal’s fireworks in the Premier League. So, they go into this game knowing it’s a must win and Wenger feels obliged to have a little dig, saying “They were very good at what they decided to do and they decided to defend. (Against Barcelona) Chelsea had a game-plan that worked a little bit. Maybe they were lucky because they hit the woodwork twice. I feel Chelsea played the system they wanted to play well. The three central midfielders did well, the two wide players worked very hard and Gary Cahill and John Terry had a great game. The two of them they blocked some shots from (Lionel) Messi and were remarkable sometimes. They had a great performance on the day. With what they wanted to do. And (Didier) Drogba did the rest… He was good in everything he did, he did even more than expected.”
Roberto Di Matteo isn’t having any of that though, and says “Everybody is entitled to an opinion, but he (Drogba) was marked by two men for most of the game and came under a physical battering, so we have to be objective in our reaction. Our players are fair. Everybody has their own style but we are a fair team. He was very helpful to the team (against Barcelona), gave us an outlet and scored a vital goal so we were pleased.”
And focusing on today’s game, goes on to say “We’re playing against Arsenal, it’s a big London derby but it will be a different type of game. You should never write them off, they have a stable situation as a club and with the manager. You always know that even if they have a bad period, they have enough quality to challenge the top four all the time. They have a good squad with quality, we’ll be missing some players and we’ll have to see, it will be interesting.”
Arteta, Wilshere and Mertesacker (all ankle) all miss out through injury, although Diaby and Coquelin (both hamstring) return along with Koscielny, who’s back from a two-game ban. Yossi Benayoun is ineligible.
For Chelsea, Didier Drogba (knee) and David Luiz (hamstring) miss out through injury and Branislav Ivanovic misses out through suspension.
ARSENAL (from): Szczesny, Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Gibbs, Song, Ramsey, Rosicky, Gervinho, Walcott, van Persie, Fabianski, Djourou, Santos, Jenkinson, Diaby, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Coquelin, Chamakh.
CHELSEA (from): Cech, Ferreira, Bosingwa, Terry, Luiz, Cahill, Cole, Bertrand, Mikel, Meireles, Lampard, Ramires, Mata, Malouda, Torres, Sturridge, Kalou, Turnbull.
Chelsea 3-5 Arsenal (29th October 2011)
We won’t be as strong as we were against Barcelona, we’ll be knackered, they know they have to get third – just in case. I don’t even want to think about the outcome, nevermind bloody predict it.