CHELSEA vs ARSENAL
PREVIEW: Our match of the week features a London derby between two of the top clubs in the league as Arsenal travels to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea. Chelsea are the league leaders and currently hold a four point lead over Arsenal (though the Gunners have played one less match at this point). Chelsea will be looking to get back on track following last week’s defeat at Aston Villa while a depleted Arsenal look to build momentum following a tough win at Tottenham.
MANAGERS: Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho are both excellent managers. Their resumes speak for themselves. It’s also obvious by the way these two go back and forth at each other in the media that they’re not quite too fond of each other either. However history has shown that Mourinho has owned this matchup, as the Chelsea boss has never lost to his counterpart in ten meetings.
FORWARDS: Chelsea has no reliable striker at the moment, and Mourinho is suddenly relying on a 33-year old Samuel Eto’o to be a threat up front. Both Demba Ba and especially Fernando Torres have been busts. Arsenal are not much better, but they do have Olivier Giroud and his twelve league goals. No Chelsea striker has more than seven.
MIDFIELDERS: If Arsenal were at full strength this would have probably been too close to call. But without Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere, and Aaron Ramsey this should be a huge advantage for Chelsea. Tomas Rosicky had a very good game for the Gunners last week, including the match-winning goal. He will have to play even better on Saturday.
DEFENDERS: These might be the two best defensive clubs in the league (they both allow less than a goal per match). Arsenal may have arguably the top central defensive duo in Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, but John Terry and Gary Cahill are no slouches for Chelsea either. Too tough to call. Goals will be at a premium come Saturday.
GOALKEEPERS: Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny struggled very early in the season but has been very solid and consistent ever since. But it is unfair at this point in the 23-year old’s career to compare him with a keeper as accomplished as Petr Cech, who is one of the best in the world at his position.
X-FACTORS: Whereas Arsenal had the week off to prepare themselves for the derby, Chelsea had to play their Champions League match during the week. Therefore the Gunners should be the ones with the fresher legs theoretically. Will Chelsea’s depth help offset whatever fatigue they may have? Meanwhile this will be Arsene Wenger’s 1000th match as Arsenal manager. The feeling is that his players will be extra motivated to make this a memorable one.
PREDICTION: It will be a tough defensive battle between these clubs on Saturday. Chelsea have allowed only nine goals at home and have the best home record in the league, but Arsenal have the best away record. A single goal might decide this match. However there are a couple things that should not be overlooked. One is the fact that Arsenal are undermanned (no Ozil, Ramsey, Wilshere and Theo Walcott). The other is Chelsea’s record against the other top Premier League clubs, which is superior to that of Arsenal’s (in fact some of the Gunners uglier losses have come on the road against Liverpool and Manchester City). When you add these two factors to Mourinho’s superior head-to-head against Wenger, then one will have to go with the Blues in this one.
Final Score: Chelsea 1 (Eto’o) – Arsenal 0
Who Will Win Our EPL Match Of The Week?
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