The match against Chelsea by all standard is one that would as well go down as a title decider for both teams. Both teams being locked together at the top for the race to the Premier League title. Currently, the advantage is Chelsea’s but Arsenal could seize the initiative tomorrow if they beat Chelsea at the Bridge. It is easier said than done. The match won’t be a stroll in the park but I fancy Arsenal to escape with all 3 points. You could call it wishful thinking but I have my reasons for saying so. Let me share them with you.
A win for Arsenal would firmly put Arsenal title hopes more in their hands. The Gunners currently trail Chelsea by 4 points with a game in hand but if they can beat Chelsea, they could finally usurp the Blues after beating Swansea in mid-week. If Arsenal can beat Chelsea at the weekend, they can win the Premier League. I know Manchester City and Liverpool are still in the running but Arsenal can hit City below the belt if they beat them at the Emirates and that is a huge possibility because City’s away form isn’t the best and they still have Manchester United and Liverpool to play all away. Manchester United might be so strong at the moment but they would want to preserve their pride by not loosing the 2nd Manchester derby of the season.
Another reason is their mid-week exhaustion. Chelsea played the 2nd leg of their Champions League round of 16 match against Galatasaray at the midweek. Agreed it was a comfortable 2-0 win but it must have taken some strength off the players. Playing Arsenal tomorrow means they will be playing 3 matches in a space of 8 days. That is in contrast with Arsenal that had a whole week to rest and prepare. Obviously, Arsenal are the fresher of the two teams and in a game that is bound to be a test of strength, the Gunners might just have that extra strength to go that extra mile and claim all three points.
Yet, another reason is the fact that Wenger has never beaten Mourinho. The Frenchman has played him many times but yet to record a single victory against him and what better time to get it than on his 1000th game in charge, against Chelsea and at the Stamford Bridge. A win for Arsenal will help Wenger smash many records that the Portuguese had kept intact in the past. For the aforementioned reasons, Wenger will be motivated to get the much needed win.
Chelsea’s suspensions. After Chelsea lost the match against Aston Villa last weekend, Mourinho rained tirades on the centre referee Chris Foy. People wondered if it was only because of the loss which meant three points lost. No, it was for more important reasons. In the wake of the match, Chelsea bagged three red cards (Mourinho, Ramires and Willian). That is certainly a blow considering the fact that Arsenal were the next opponents. The absence of Ramires and Willian would really affect Chelsea. The Blues will certainly be short of wingers and a robust box to box midfielder. Who replaces Willian and Ramires? Shurrle and Lampard? Surely Lampard is a good player but age is no longer on his side and that means his lack of pace could be hugely exposed by Arsenal’s mobile midfield. The absence of Willian will rob Chelsea of genuine width, neither of Shurrle or Salah can provide it.
Finally, It is Wenger’s anniversary. The Frenchman arrived 18 years ago and would be having his 1000th game in charge of the Gunners. Certainly, he would be up for the challenge, ditto for the players. Their manager is having a huge day and they would want to make it a day to remember for him and how better way to do that than by orchestrating Chelsea’s defeat and break the age long jinx of Mourinho not loosing to Wenger and not loosing an EPL game at Stamford Bridge.