So the game on Sunday against Chelsea is upon us. We have just two wins out of the last 17 matches against them. The last two defeats will certainly be fresh in many Gooner’s mind. Still a win on Sunday will change that. We have the media, the recent history and pundits against us. Still we have the belief and the team, we only need patience and focus to dig out a result.
Coming to team news, we have only Diaby returning from his ankle injury, still he is only 80 percent fit. Otherwise we have a new player added to the list in the shape of Gibbs, who suffered a calf injury in the match against Partizan, and is out for two to three weeks. Fabregas who was a 50:50 will not feature as he has not recovered from his hamstring injury, and will feature again after the International break along with Vermaelen, Bendtner and Almunai. Van Persie and Walcott are set to return at the end of this month. Long term absentees Ramsey and Frimpong are on schedule to return in their respective times.
Well it’s certainly not short of a crisis, not even two months have passed and we are without 9 players. Still we can put up a pretty decent team to challenge Chelsea. Fabianski will return to goalkeeping task. The back four picks it up itself again; Sagna, Koscielny, Squillaci and Clichy. The midfield should comprise of Nasri, Wilshere and Song. I know Song hasn’t been up to his best but that’s due to him going forward too much. For this match he needs to sit back and do his defensive duties. I am not going with Denilson because he doesn’t have the strength to cope with Chelsea, otherwise this season he has been good. Nasri would need to be up to his best in the central role. Wilshere will have a major role to play in linking play. Up front Chamakh should be partnered with Rosicky and Arshavin
Probable Starting XI: Fabianski, Sagna, Squillaci, Koscielny, Clichy, Wilshere, Nasri, Song, Rosicky, Chamakh, Arshavin.
Now Chelsea is also without some key players. Still they will be confident against us. The advantage Chelsea has is their physical presence and they will use it to their advantage. They will try to press the ball and hit us on the counter. They have a good defence and with their strength they can sustain pressure and when the time arrives unleash their attack.
They have Drogba who always goes rampant against us. Our defence will have to be on its heel against him. Other players that might pose a danger will be Essien and Malouda. Anelka and Cole will come into play in opening our defence by dragging us to the sidelines. They are also good at scoring goals on set pieces.
As for us we will need to be patient and keep it tight at the back. Chelsea will let us have possession and our job would be to utilize it and take the chances as they present themselves. We will have to remain patient even if we don’t get an opening. Nasri, Arshavin, Wilshere and Rosicky will have to produce their best to open up Chelsea. We don’t have the physical presence but as long as we keep the ball moving and don’t lose it we will survive.
Chamakh can be the difference in this match. His aerial ability will have to be utilized. Rosicky and Nasri can put in some decent crosses to pressurize the Chelsea defence. If we can keep the Chelsea players engaged they are bound to slip up as happened against Man City.
The main battle will be in the midfield and the team who breaks up the play of the other will be successful. Song is the key player for us in shielding the defence and he will need support from the whole team. We have to score first in this match as it will then make Chelsea to come out and attack and we can counter them on that. If they score first than I fear we may lose our focus and concede more.
It’s going to be a very tight game till the time the score remains equal. We have to be at our best and focussed till the final whistle blows. I won’t say anything about the outcome though a win will be priceless. Wenger believes we can do it, so must we.
In his words:
“I believe we have enough strength to win the game and that is what we want to do. If we turn up with a great performance – and I am convinced we will – we will beat them. Football is down to the performance on the day. What is important is: have we the potential to beat Chelsea – I say yes. Are Chelsea a good team? I say yes, but we can beat a good team.