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Arsenal v Chelsea preview

08 May 2009 11:24:48

Arsenal v Chelsea preview

Arsenal and Chelsea must bring their focus back to the Premier League following European heartbreak in midweek. The two sides could hardly have exited the UEFA Champions League semi-finals in more contrasting ways but they will share a common disappointment. Whereas Arsenal appeared resigned to their elimination after falling 2-0 behind to Manchester United inside 11 minutes, Chelsea looked set to clinch a place in the final until Andres Iniesta's last-gasp strike gave Barcelona victory on away goals and sparked ugly scenes with the referee being confronted by angry players. The Champions League had been Arsenal's only hope of silverware this season, and while Chelsea still have the FA Cup to look forward to they will feel they should have also had a trip to Rome to prepare for. Sunday's Premier League clash nevertheless promises to provide more excitement, with the fourth-placed Gunners looking to close the gap on their London rivals to three points. Arsene Wenger's men have not been beaten in the league since November and kept up their fine domestic form with an impressive 3-0 victory at Portsmouth last weekend. Andrey Arshavin was the inspiration behind their success at Fratton Park but the Russian playmaker, ineligible for the clash with United, is struggling to shake off a virus. Wenger is nevertheless likely to make other changes following such a disappointing display, with Abou Diaby and Denilson in contention for midfield roles and defender Mikael Silvestre also pushing for a recall. Gael Clichy has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a back injury and joins William Gallas and long-term absentee Tomas Rosicky on the sidelines. Chelsea newsChelsea have no realistic chance of catching league leaders Manchester United but they will believe they can still overhaul second-placed Liverpool. The Blues have suffered just one defeat since Guus Hiddink took charge but it is Wednesday's draw with Barca that has been hardest to stomach for the club. They produced an accomplished performance and felt they should have won the match after having a number of strong penalty appeals turned down. The angry reaction of Michael Ballack and in particular Didier Drogba has caused controversy and Hiddink will no doubt have to consider the mindset of each of his players before selecting his side for the trip to Emirates Stadium. The Dutchman will not want to make too many changes and will have been encouraged by the burgeoning strike partnership between Drogba and Nicolas Anelka. Possible starting XIsArsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Djourou, Gibbs, Walcott, Fabregas, Song, Denilson, Arshavin, Van Persie. Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Terry, Alex, A Cole, Lampard, Ballack, Essien, Malouda, Drogba, Anelka.


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