Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has stressed that the Gunners want to get back into the title race, and that the only way they can do so is by winning their game on Sunday against current Premier League leaders Chelsea, who have a ten-point lead over Wenger’s side.
Luiz Felipe Scolari, the Chelsea counterpart for whom Wenger has a great deal of respect, does not accept that victory for the Blues this weekend would effectively knock Arsenal out of the hunt. The Brazilian insists that English football is so competitive that a team can be 15 points behind with five games to go and still not be ruled out of contention.
Most pundits favour the Blues to beat the under-fire Gunners – and in turn many fans and neutrals feel that if Chelsea do manage to open up a 13-point gap on their London rivals before the start of December, Arsenal might as well start concentrating on the cups.
Wenger has admitted that head-to-head confrontations with fellow ‘Big Four’ members become critical when you are as far off the pace as Arsenal find themselves. But Scolari acknowledges that Wenger’s team play good football, and feels it will be a difficult game for Chelsea to win, although he is looking forward to pitting his wits against his old friend, who was coaching with him in Japan in the mid-1990s.
Scolari said this week of Wenger: “I like him as a coach. If I chose five coaches in the world as the best, he’d be one of the five. “I watched their game against Manchester United and it was one of the best games in the Premier League. This game against Chelsea will be like that as well.”
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger insists that his side won’t be going into the big match against Chelsea with any sort of inferiority complex as they are one for one in their only game as a direct rival this season.
“This season we have played better against the top four,” Wenger was keen to point out in the pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday’s match away to Chelsea.
“We cannot deny that because we lost against the teams who are not maybe favourites to play in the top four. Why? Maybe because they play a different type of football. I believe as well that some teams like Man City and Aston Villa have strengths and can give a game to anybody. Aston Villa could have beaten Manchester United last Sunday and we had the bad luck to play Man City and Aston Villa when they were in great form.”
Chelsea boss Luiz Felipe Scolari admits he is counting the hours ahead of his first chance to pit his wits against Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.
“It is one of the big games, but in my mind when I play against Arsenal, Manchester or Everton, every club is a big game for me, because when we lose three points maybe we are out,” he told the club’s official website.
“This is what I try to say to my players, that we are not motivated for just this game against Arsenal, we need to play every day and every game with this same motivation, and we need to try and win. There is no difference. When I came to Chelsea I looked at the table from last season and saw when Manchester United were nine points behind, but in the second leg they became champions.”
“When I came to Chelsea I looked at the table from last season and saw when Manchester United were nine points behind, but in the second leg they became champions. It will be a very good game, I like this game and I think Arsene likes this game. I looked in this Premier League and I think after tomorrow our game is the same as Arsenal against Manchester United. All over the world they’ll write about this game and for us coaches, it is very good.”
Each manager emphasises the use of the full-backs. Arsene Wenger welcomes Bacary Sagna back into the side. Each manager emphasises the use of the full-backs. Arsene Wenger welcomes Bacary Sagna back into the side. Arsenal defended admirably and stubbornly against Manchester United. A few lapses were evident, but when the going got tough the last ditch tackles, interceptions, and blocks, were instigated by William Gallas. After a performance to forget midweek, together with the prospect of facing a former club and the fact that he is a big-game player, the chances are that Gallas will be key to Arsenal’s chances.
A lot of Chelsea’s attacking flow stems from the bombarding charges of their full-backs: Ashley Cole and Jose Bosingwa. Scolari on the touchline he never stops shouting at the full-back who is closest to the dugout: urging him on, ordering the overlap, pulling him back, and so on. There is a large emphasis placed by the Brazilian on the pace from the wide areas of defence, and both Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy may be restricted in their own forward game, unless they get cover from Alexandre Song and Denilson.
Interesting battles will develop all over the central areas. For starters Chelsea, for all their expensive acquistions, have failed to bring in pace in the middle of the park. They have runners, but no electric acceleration, and with Arsenal liking to play a possessional passing game, and with Fabregas nearly getting back to his best with a good step in the right direction in the Champions League, the Gunners may be able to get behind Chelsea’s midfield.
While much has already been said of the masterly stroke that Fabregas can apply on the ball, the same can be said of Frank Lampard. There are not many who can play a long curving ball with the outside of the boot, but this is one Lampard revels in. Not only can he pick a match-winning assist, but he has a rocket shot, and his running can either detract a marker away – clearing space for a team-mate, or he can receive the ball himself. It will be interesting to see how Wenger lines his midfield up to counter Frankie’s threat.
And don’t forget Nasri, who is in top form.
Didier Drogba is banned. He is an unforgiving forward. for Chelsea fans, that Frenchman and former Gunner Nicolas Anelka is riding the wave of some fine form (and keeping Drogba benched anyway) having recorded a dozen Premier League goals in 14 match-days. Mikael Silvestre and William Gallas will therefore need to stay strong and disciplined which, if the Manchester United game was anything to go by, they are able to do.
Emmanuel Adebayor will likely get the nod for Arsenal up top, replacing Nicklas Bendtner leading the line, with Van Persie dropping a little deeper. Should the game need an injection of pace later on the game, then Carlos Vela may get a big game bow.
With Cesc Fabregas playing more and more balls over the top of late due to playing a deeper role while partnering Denilson, Terry will need to be on guard against the long ranging ball over the top, a pass that Dynamo Kyiv came unstuck against in midweek after Nicklas Bendtner controlled the ball well, thighed it sideways, and finished well to claim three points.
What are your thoughts about this particular game?? Do you think Chealse will win or your vote for the gunners. Will Terry come unstuck against a targetman he rates so highly? Do you think Chelsea’s superior names in midfield will be too much for Denilson and Song to contain, or will Fabregas revel in the ‘quarterback’ role now Adebayor is back in the side? How will Gallas and Cole fare against their former clubs?
Speciallysports.com wants to know your opinion……..
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