Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Arsenal vs Chelsea: Match Preview

We play Chelsea tonight in what should be a difficult Capital One Cup tie, even though it is at the Emirates Stadium. Wenger's insistence on playing a weakened squad leads me to believe that Chelsea is set to nick this match, even though they play 48 hours after a high-intensity game against Man City.

To me, the Capital One Cup must be kept at the highest priority and winning the title must be a firm second. It is still possible to win the Premier League if you lose 2 or 3 matches, but is it possible if you slip up in the Capital One Cup? I, like every other Gooner out there, want the shadow of the 8 years trophyless tag to get off from our backs, and what way to do it than in early March itself?

Winning the Capital One Cup will give a huge boost to the players and give them confidence for the run-in period of the season. Which is why it is essential we defeat Chelsea, especially because the odds are with us to do so.

This is an important clash, mind you, and one that we have to win, by hook or by crook. The Capital One Cup is a knockout, not a league. It is results, and ONLY results that matter here. Chelsea will most probably field their second team, but they have quality players like Mata, Willian and Ba in their second team.

Which is why Arsenal need to field a strong side to win this game. If Wenger loses this game by playing teenagers and says that he was resting his key men for the upcoming Liverpool game, then I shall spare no excuses for him. Chelsea is a significantly stronger team than Liverpool, and losing against Liverpool is acceptable, because we have till May to catch up. Losing against Chelsea is not acceptable.

However, it seems that Wenger is not giving this match the importance it deserves, which will undoubtedly be a factor should we lose tonight. Lukasz Fabianski is set to start as goalkeeper ahead of Viviano (don't ask me why). While Fabianski has improved over the years, Viviano is better than him, yet he hasn't played a single match this season. Arsene Wenger's man management "skills" strike again.

The back four will undoubtedly feature Jenkinson, Koscielny, Vermaelen and Nacho Monreal. I think Koscielny will start ahead of Mertesacker because Wenger will prefer to have pace in his center backs against a side like Chelsea. In midfield, I would love it if Frimpong gets the nod, because he seems like an Arsenal through and through, and will do anything for the club. However, Wenger has opted to go with Issac Hayden, which, to me, is the absolutely wrong decision. Frimpong has played and impressed in the Premier League, while Hayden struggled in the West Brom match earlier in the Capital One Cup. Anyway, let's see if Arsene has another trick up his sleeve.

Jack Wilshere might start alongside Hayden in the central midfield role, with Rosicky assuming the attacking midfield role. I think that Rosicky will have a massive game tonight, and will definitely be involved in one of our goals (should we score any). His freshness, flair and determination will be an important factor in the final third, which leads me to believe that he might have a bigger role than Jack in the game.

The attacking trio will definitely feature Serge Gnabry (who signed a new contract!) and Nicklas Bendtner. I think that Ryo should get a start in the left wing, but I have a sneaky suspicion that Wenger will overplay Ramsey and start him there. However, I am not complaining, because we need quality players to pursue a win. If it means overplaying Rambo, so be it.

We must keep a strong bench featuring Giroud, Ozil and Santi Cazorla if we're serious about winning this game. I have already emphasized the importance of this game on our season, and I don't want another silly or stupid reason to result in our downfall. Wenger, who is nominated as the Coach of The Year, talks about Mourinho:

"It was not a big surprise [that Mourinho returned to Chelsea] because there was talk about it many times. When he left Madrid, it looked to be one of his best opportunities to come back. What the Premier League wants first is the quality of the games and his teams give you always a tough game. That is what you want."

A load of polite praise from the manager to stoke the fires of an important game, if you ask me.

Whatever happens, this game has to be seen as a must-win, although I fear Wenger doesn't see it that way. Anyway, we'll find out how he views this game as tonight, in what should be a cagey match.

Come on Arsenal. A trophy is at stake.

-Santi (Follow me on twitter: @ArsenalBlogz )

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