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Arsenal v Chelsea preview

17 Apr 2009 11:57:16

Arsenal v Chelsea preview

Despite their good form against their rivals, Arsenal will have to overcome further injury problems at the back if they wish to maintain their long-held record over Chelsea. Kieran Gibbs is a doubt with a groin problem picked up against Villarreal on Wednesday, while Bacary Sagna is still struggling to shake-off the virus that kept him out of his side's Champions League tie. With Gael Clichy, Johann Djourou and William Gallas also out injured, Arsene Wenger could shift Mikael Silvestre to the left-back slot and bring in Alex Song to fill the centre-back vacancy alongside Kolo Toure. Meanwhile, options further up the pitch are far more plentiful for Arsenal, with Andrey Arshavin and Eduardo available to complement the in-form trio of Cesc Fabregas, Emmanuel Adeybayor and Theo Walcott. Arshavin is likely to make the line-up after being cup-tied in Europe, and Eduardo will be hoping to have finally shaken off a series of injury problems to take his place on the bench. Defensive BluesChelsea are likely to stick with a similar starting XI that secured a 4-4 Champions League draw with Liverpool in midweek, although the return of John Terry to the defence will be a welcome inclusion. The Blues have shipped a worrying seven goals in their last two games, but regardless of the statistics, manager Guus Hiddink is likely to return to the back four that almost capitulated to Bolton in the league. Branislav Ivanovic should retain his place at right-back as Jose Bosingwa continues to struggle with a hamstring strain, and John Terry will return to the line-up in place of Alex after serving a one-match ban in Europe. Up front, Hiddink may opt to start Nicholas Anelka in place of Salomon Kalou in light of the striker's impressive substitute appearance against Liverpool. The Chelsea boss may also take into account Anelka's history with their opponents, while fellow former Gunner Ashley Cole will once again line-up against the club he left so acrimoniously in 2006. Possible starting XIs:Arsenal: Fabianski, Eboue, Toure, Silvestre, Sagna, Walcott, Diaby, Arshavin, Fabregas, Van Persie, Adebayor. Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Terry, Carvalho, Ashley Cole, Anelka, Ballack, Essien, Lampard, Malouda, Drogba.


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