Thursday, January 20, 2022

Chelsea preview: Arsenal can’t afford to fall over

Morning (or afternoon if you’re in the Europe time zone type thing).

It’s Chelsea today in the Premier League and we are seriously overdue a win. You have to go back to that incredible game in 2011 for the last time we beat them. You know the one, Andre Santos scored, Robin van Persie got a hat-trick, and John Terry fell over.

That was funny. My favourite bit was when he fell over. It was epic. He was upright and then he slipped and fell over. Fun times. Sadly he won’t be playing today because he’s injured and ancient now, but it would have been nice to see him fall over again.

Arsene Wenger has some thinking to do about his team today. Obviously he has to be careful of Jose Mourinho going rogue and making his way into the stadium then down to the pitch to ‘break his face’, but he needs to put those concerns aside for the duration of the game.

Having made 11 changes in midweek for the EFL Cup, he’s got plenty of fresh legs available for this one, and considering Chelsea went to extra-time that might be a factor. Obviously Granit Xhaka is knocking very hard on his door and could be in line for a start, but it wouldn’t be a massive surprise if he went with the same team that started against Hull.

If Xhaka does start it would probably be in place of Coquelin, and the Xhaka/Cazorla thing worked pretty well against Watford. Chelsea are a slightly different proposition though, and I do wonder if Arsene Wenger might try and throw a kind of curve ball to play with the tactical plans Antonio Conte has come up with for this game.

Maybe Alexis up top is that anyway, as it is a bit difficult to understand what the overall plan is with him there, but it has worked and his four goals this season are evidence of that. It has been too long since we beat them though, something the manager is aware of and he has challenged his team to do something different today, saying:

A quality of a team is to change things – when you have an opportunity to change things, you take it. We have a chance to reverse what’s happened in recent years against Chelsea. There were periods where we won always, periods where we couldn’t beat them, so let’s hope we go into a new era where we can deliver.

We feel we are progressing at the moment so we have a good opportunity to grab and to change what I call ‘the inconvenient facts’ of the recent years.

It wouldn’t be unfair to say that our results have been better than our performances, and while you’d love for the latter to improve, today is all about the former. I will take a win whichever way it comes. And it does feel like the chance is there to that. Chelsea are still getting used to a new manager and while they do still have some dangerous players, we’ve got the ability to hurt them too.

It’s been interesting in the build up that there’s been so much talk of how important it is to keep 11 men on the field. We had three red cards against them last season, and clearly that doesn’t help. There’s no doubt Costa, being the evil pig he is, will try and provoke more today, so hopefully new players who aren’t fully aware of how despicable he is are brought up to speed.

After losing on the opening day against Liverpool, it’s important that we get a result today against another of the top teams in the league. For confidence, for momentum, for the points, let’s hope we can overturn this recent dismal record against them and get the job done.

For those in NYC, we’ll be watching the game at the Barleycorn – ahead of the live podcast there tomorrow. Maybe see some of you for a beer later.

There will be live blog coverage of the game for you also, so feel free to join us for that.

Come on Arsenal.

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