Losing to Zagreb wasn't much in the way of fun. My night went from bad to worse from that half time whistle onwards. I messed up my leg jumping down from a height, I whacked my head on an overhead train rack, dropped my hat in a puddle of water amongst other horrendous things that really shouldn't take place all in one night but I tell you what, I'd do it all again for an Arsenal victory this lunchtime. Oh yes, if there was one team, one manager that I want us to overcome it is this one.
The victory in the Community shield was very enjoyable, the goal from Ox was top quality and the way we shut them out was classy and professional but in the middle of all the post much high fiving I found myself wishing it was at Stamford Bridge because this is where it matters. Unfortunately Jose Mourinho will probably be drumming that into his players heads. They are fully aware that victory against us will more than likely kick start their season and surely if you are a good human being, you cannot want that. We have all been enjoying and smirking at the Special ones, special results of late. That continuing is just a good thing for the rest of the world but as we know, good things don't always happen and we would be beyond foolish to expect them to approach this game any differently to how they have done in recent years.
Recent history is clearly not on our side at the Bridge, I won't give you the list because it makes for grim reading but the 3-5 victory in 2011 was the most recent and then you have to go back two years to 2009 when a Robin van Persie brace in the space of 3 minutes saw us take all three points. Then you are going back to 2004. In fact those were the good old days in regards to this fixture. We used to whip them for fun pretty much every game. You know pre Roman Abramovich cash and pre Emirates move. Do you reckon there is any correlation in that?
Anyway onto the players, I think we can all guess the line up right? There really are not any other possibilities really. Hector Bellerin and Aaron Ramsey were given the night off on Wednesday night and will almost certainly come straight back into the team at the expense of Mathieu Debuchy and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. It was obvious anyway but Arsène gave the game away when he was asked about Kurt Zouma's strengths. He said that he hoped Walcott would trouble him.. erm should I start him that is, or something along those lines.
Mean Lean's Predicted Line Up:
While I love Per Mertesacker's calm, stature and distribution, it will be great to have the insurance of Gabriel's pace against Diego Costa. That will be a very interesting battle, especially with Koscielny on the cover. Those two playing in a solid unit would be a nightmare for any striker I feel. Hopefully we shut him out, scrap that. I hope the entire team shut out all their creative players out. I am looking for a big performance from Francis Coquelin today, we are going to need him to be at his best as the midfield is going to be one hell of a battle. I can see Oscar being in the team to try and stop Cazorla from getting on the ball, Ramires will be in the side to kick, and disrupt the likes of Özil. Alexis will be doubled up on when he gets the ball on the left. Ramsey may drift inside to stop the likes of Fabregas when Chelsea have the ball. All over the pitch we should see some really intriguing mini matches going on.
This is a graphic from the Guardian that I played around with. All the lines look like interesting match ups whether Arsenal have the ball or Chelsea. The only Arsenal player without an obvious key battle is Monreal unless Ivanovic does a Bellerin and bombs forward for large chunks of the match.
It is going to be interesting how we approach the game. Will Koscielny and Gabriel mean that we will push high against Chelsea and attack them from the off? Will we play aggressive front foot football and go for the win, instilling a strong belief in the team that they can go on and out play the champions? Or will we be more conservative, bide our time and stop Chelsea from scoring before we slowly grow into the game or catch them on the break? Also interesting to see how Chelsea approach it, knowing just how far away they are. I certainly don't expect them to be gung-ho in the opening minutes though.
What I would love to see is one of our star players to make the difference. We need to be strong and stable at the back. So Cech, Kos, Gab, Monreal and Coq need to be at their best and then we need Özil to pick out the kind of pass he did against Stoke or Reading in last years FA cup semi final. Or we need Alexis to spank one in from 25 yards as he did against Villa in the final. This is why we pay the big bucks for these guys.
Let us get the opening goal and let us not make any mistakes. We owe them a beating so let us get it done.
I couldn't get a Chelsea fan to do the opposition view so no article there but post match Q&A, review and podcast to follow over the next few days.
COME ON YOU GUNNERS!