After the weekend's results, what always looked to be a big match has now taken on enormous proportions for both clubs. Wins for Manchester City, Liverpool, Everton, Newcastle and Manchester United mean that not only can neither side afford to lose, now neither can afford not to win.
As Premier League campaigns go, this one looks to have all the hallmarks of being one of the most closely contested with, at the turn of the year, any number of clubs likely to still think that they're in with a chance. For Arsenal and Chelsea, to keep tucked into the pack of clubs disputing the leadership, a win is essential, but both cannot achieve that result. To secure victory of course, goals are the required currency, and this may just be the deciding factor in the game.
Arsenal having experienced an emphatic reverse at the hands of rivals Manchester City, after only securing a single point from a home draw with Everton, will need a win to reinstall belief both into their squad and their supporters. With a charge of fragility always levelled at them, it's important that they bet one of their rivals. The Gunners' midfield still looks to have stellar quality about it, and oozes creative talent, but there is now just the glimmer of concern that the form of Olivier Giroud may be on the verge of turning. The French striker's goals and ability to lead the line has been a key component in the Arsenal success story this season, but there was always doubt that he could sustain it over time. With only the wayward Niklas Bendtner as back up, the support looked frail, but now with Theo Walcott back fit and firing, perhaps a change of shape, featuring the dynamic movement of pace and mobility may be the order of the day.
For Chelsea, their season has been inconsistent almost by definition. The only thing that can apparently be relied upon when the Blues play is that their strikers won't score, and that they will concede. It's not the sort of record to inspire confidence. Chelsea however also have a stellar midfield with the promptings of Oscar and the mercurial talent of Hazard to the fore, there is hope for the med from Stamford Bridge. This is especially so, when it's recalled that a few weeks ago, an under-strength Chelsea turned up at the Emirates and comfortably took apart an arsenal side containing many first team players. With Juan Mata to the fore, the Blues dominated the game from start to finish, and if selected for the game, Mata may just be the key to unlock the Arsenal defence. With the Gunners always prepared to allow opponents the opportunity to play, the little Spaniard could be the key selection.
throughout his years in the premier League, Arsene Wenger is yet to get the better of Jose Mourinho in a head-to-head clash. It's a strange stat, but one that the Arsenal manager will want to close the book on. whilst games between these two teams are always close, I'm going for an arsenal victory by the odd goal in three. Strangely however, Chelsea's inconsistency could just produce an inspired performance, so a draw might also be on the cards.
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