21 March 2014

Match Preview: Arsenal v. Chelsea, Stamford Bridge, March 22, 8:45am (EST)

The long-awaited fixture is finally upon us: Arsenal v. Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. This London Derby could be one of the most important matches for the Arsenal over the last decade– a win keeps us within reach of the EPL title to the disbelief of our naysayers, a tie lets us live to see another day, and a loss harshly tells us that it's time to move on, put on our yellow ribbons and put our hearts and souls into supporting the boys in the FA Cup.
Wenger will reach a milestone this Saturday
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In a season characterized by its unpredictable title race, a match of this caliber is certainly make or break for the Arsenal, and statistics show that this should really be one for the ages. This will be Arsene Wenger's 1000th match at the helm for the Arsenal, with an overall record of 572 wins, 235 draws, and 192 losses. Not a single one of those 572 wins has come against Jose Mourinho, who boasts a 5 win, 5 draw, 0 loss record against the Gunner boss who, in his words, is a "specialist in failure" (cue Mourinho hatred). Could there be a better scenario for Wenger's 1000th game? Can you even imagine the pure joy and utter elation that we would all feel after crushing smug Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge and destroying his records? I can. I think the boss can too.

Another striking statistic to keep in mind is the Blues' home record. I'm sure we're all well aware of Mourinho's record at Stamford Bridge, but it's still worth noting that Chelsea has been exceptional at home this year– the Blues have yet to suffer defeat at the Bridge. Meanwhile, the Arsenal has won more away matches against their London rivals over the years than any other Premier League side to visit Chelski, with a total of 7 victories.

This will be the teams' third meeting of the season. After suffering defeat 0-2 at the Emirates in the Capital One Cup, the two London sides fought their way to a miserable 0-0 draw in EPL action in a game that will most likely go down as one of the most boring displays of parking the bus in the history of football. Despite mediocre results at home vs. Chelsea, the Arsenal has managed to come away with a win in each of its four away games in London so far this season, most recently against the Sp*rs last weekend, thanks in large part to the godly footballing skills of Mertescielny.

Records could be broken at Stamford Bridge this Saturday
(CC License / Wikimedia
It really doesn't seem like there could be a better time to take on the Blues. After suffering defeat at Villa Park (Thank you, Delph, you kind sir), and playing in an important midweek matchup against Drogs the legend, Galatasaray, and Mancini and his cute scarf, Chelsea will be forced to face the Arsenal without a few of their key players. Ramires will face at least a three match suspension for his despicable tackle on El Ahmadi last weekend, and Willian will face a one match suspension for his two yellows. The Special One was charged by the FA for his conduct at Villa Park as well, but it looks as though the charges will not ban him from the sideline this weekend (which may actually be better, because I'd really love to see Arsene smile, shake his hand and look him in the eye after crushing his hopes and dreams). David Luiz, on the bench midweek vs. Galatasaray, may be set to make his return for the Blues vs. the Gunners. It looks as though the Arsenal will be able to field a similar side to the one that faced Sp*rs at White Hart Lane this past Sunday with the exception of Tomas Rosicky, who will undergo a fitness test to determine his availability after suffering an ankle knock.

Chelsea has been able to get results against big teams this year. The Arsenal has generally failed to do the same. Despite this, last weekend's result was very promising for the Gunners: we were out-possessed and really failing to play our best football against a solid Sp*rs side, but the boys still managed to find a way to leave White Hart Lane with three massive points. We've gotten much more comfortable with sitting back, absorbing pressure, and waiting to counter, so going up against a Chelsea team that also looks to counter will be very interesting. If we are able to get more pace in our midfield and use the space that Chelsea will inevitably give us, we can really threaten. A second scenario would involve both teams parking the bus once again, but let's just hope that doesn't happen.

North London is red. All of London will soon be red too. Our last five wins at Stamford Bridge have been come from behind victories, so keep the faith until the very end, Gooners. I know I will, and a bet with my Chelsea-loving boyfriend may leave me in a Hazard jersey for TEN DAYS if we lose. I'm not too worried, though. The heart and passion in this team will get us the result we need. COYG

"In Arsene We Trust"
(CC License / Wikimedia)

1 comment:

  1. "Specialist in Failure" throw-down? I must admit ... dbag Jose makes EPL more exciting.