Monday, May 20, 2024

Chelsea preview – Timber returns – Live pod announcement

Morning.

We’re in Premier League action tonight, hosting Chelsea as we look to follow up the win against Wolves with three more points tonight. The challenge for Mikel Arteta and his players isn’t just an opposition side who aren’t as bad as they were earlier in the season when they held us to a 2-2 draw, but the physical demands with the game coming so soon after the last one.

To be fair, that’s something Chelsea have to manage as well, having lost an FA Cup semi-final to Man City on Saturday evening, and tonight might be about who copes best with that. Obviously heavy legs could be a factor, but if there are tired minds too, that can manifest in lapses in concentration or bad decision making – something I’m sure Mikel Arteta will be well aware of. So, if tonight is a bit cagey at first, it could be both managers ensuring their players don’t do anything stupid as they feel their way into the game.

I don’t expect too much in the way of rotation from Arteta. There’s a question about who starts at left-back, which is one we’re going to have to deal with until we get that position nailed down properly. Jakub Kiwior could keep his place after helping to keep a clean sheet against Wolves, while Oleksandr Zinchenko feels like the option Chelsea would prefer given how they like to play on the break a lot. There’s also Takehiro Tomiyasu to consider, but it depends how that injury he picked up against Bayern is. I suspect Arteta might have him penciled in for the North London derby on Sunday, so if there’s a risk, I don’t think he’ll take the chance.

It feels like the kind of game where Jorginho will start in midfield (against his former club), pushing Kai Havertz into the centre-forward position (against his former club), and then it’s about the left-hand side of the front three. With Chelsea set to be missing right-back Malo Gusto, you could make a good case for Gabriels Martinelli or Jesus to cause likely replacement Axel Disasi some problems, but having broken the deadlock away at Wolves, my guess is Leandro Trossard will keep his place. Beyond that, unless there are any injuries or physical issues we’re not aware of, I don’t see anything different.

As for Chelsea, there are some reports Cole Palmer is ill and won’t play, but if I were a betting man, I think I’d wager a substantial amount on him being involved tonight. Desite some inconsistency, it’s clear they’re improving under Pochettino, just two defeats in 2024, and they have sufficient quality to hurt you if you give them the chance, so we’ll have to be close to our best this evening.

On dealing with the physical demands, Arteta said:

I don’t know, when I saw this morning, I had to stop them, because winning as well is a big boost of energy. After the performance against Wolves, and winning, and now having to play the London derby tomorrow, everybody is ready for it. We have to think about it in a positive way and feel and think that we are fresh to perform in the best possible way.

Let’s hope so, because the reward for a win tonight is three points that would put us four points clear of Man City. Yes, they have games in hand, but I’d always take the points on the board, so fingers crossed we can win this one and just apply a bit of pressure to them.

As ever, you can join us later for live blog coverage, and you’ll find all the post-game stuff on Arseblog News too.

Meanwhile, there was a step in the right direction for Jurrien Timber who played 45 minutes for the U21s against Blackburn yesterday, and scored a cracking goal in the process.

Hopefully those minutes will do him good, and there’s no adverse reaction to playing again. There aren’t many games left, so the reality is we’re only likely to see the best of him next season, but it would be quite the story if a player whose full debut ended in such a heartbreaking way had a moment before the end of this campaign to make up for it. Let’s see.

Finally for today, we’re pleased to announce that we’ll be holding another end of season live podcast with our friends from ArsenalVision Podcast, this time around we’ll be in the Alexandra Palace Theatre on Saturday, May 18th. Tickets will go on sale exclusively to Patreon members at 15.00 today, with some general sale tickets available tomorrow at the same time.

Details on Patreon here, where you can also find our Chelsea preview podcast, so if you want the best chance to get tickets, that’s where to go. And just a reminder that this month we’re donating every penny of our Patreon revenue to UNICEF, so you get great content and your subscription will go to help children all around the world too.

Right, that’s it for now. Fingers crossed for later, come on you reds!

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