The biggest London derby draws closer as Arsenal host their neighbours Chelsea in a cracking Barclays English Premier League fixture on Monday night.
With 15 matches in 5 days the congested festive season fixtures can be a pivotal period for both clubs as they seek to establish themselves as real title contenders. With only two points separating the club from third and fifth place, there is all to play for this Monday at The Emirates Stadium.
Monday, December 23, 2013
Teams: Arsenal versus Chelsea
Venue: The Emirates Stadium
Kick-off: 20:00 GMT
Possible starting line up: Arsenal (Possible Formation 4-4-1-1)
Wojciech Szeczesny, Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker, Thomas Vermaelen, Kieran Gibbs, Theo Walcott, Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey, Santo Cazorla, Mesut Ozil, Olivier Giroud
Out: Jack Wilshere (suspended),Ryo Miyaichi (hamstring), Yaya Sanogo (back),
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Abou Diaby (both knee)
Late Fitness Test: Laurent Koscielny (knee)
Possible starting line up: Chelsea (Possible Formation 4-4-1-1)
Petr Cech, Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry, David Luiz, Cesar Azpilicueta, Ramires, John-Obi Mikel, Frank Lampard, Eden Hazard, Oscar, Fernando Torres
Out: Michael Essien (suspended), Ryan Bertrand (knock), Marko Van Ginkel (knee)
Referee: Mike Dean. Matches: 15, Red Cards 3 / Yellow Cards 48
Arsenal Team News:
Arsenal will be without Jack Wilshere as he starts his two match ban, after making a middle finger gesture towards Manchester City fans. Laurent Koscielny will undergo a late fitness test, after suffering a gash to his knee, which forced him off last week against Manchester City, club captain Thomas Vermaelen will start in his place.
Good news for Arsenal fans though, will be that Lukas Podolski will make his return after being out for three months with a hamstring injury which will give Arsene Wenger much needed options upfront.
Chelsea Team News:
Micheal Essien will serve his one match after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season, while Ashley Cole will return to substitutes bench, meaning Cesar Azpilicueta will play at left back and Branislav Ivanovic will return to right back after serving his one match ban.Marko Van Ginkel remains the only long term injury casualty for Chelsea.
Arsenal: Mathieu Flamini
While all of the praise has been going to Aaron Ramsey their has one player for Arsenal who been consistently playing well and it is Flamini.
He does the dirty work in midfield, breaks up opposition play and keeps the midfield ticking over with his short passes.He is the midfield general. He allows players such as Ozil, Ramsey, Carzola, Walcott to break forward and also shields the back four which up until the Manchester City fixture, had the best defensive record in the league.
Chelsea: Eden Hazard
Eden Hazard's recent form suggests he can be a real threat when going forward. Able to play behind the striker and on both wings Hazard is in great form at the moment.
In Chelsea's 4-3 Premier League win at Sunderland earlier this month, Hazard excelled in both attacking and defensive play, contributing two goals and demonstrating his full range of creativity and is starting to realise his full potential under the Portuguese manager. Already with 6 goals and 4 assists, he is fast becoming one of Chelsea's main attacking threats.
What the Fans have to say:
Chelsea fan Jacques Joubert from Bellville in South Africa said:" The next three matches over the Christmas period, especially the first fixture at the Emirates could define the title hopes for Chelsea. I would take a draw versus Arsenal, although so far this season we have seen that anything can happen. If Chelsea can get at least 6 out of 9 points in the next three fixtures, they'll be up there challenging for the title. As it stands, in my opinion I think Man City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea are the only possible candidates to go all the way"
Arsenal fan Dawid Petri Gouws from Kuilsrivier in South Africa said: "As a Gunner the game against Chelsea is a must win to establish whether this current Arsenal squad is good enough to challenge and win the Premier League or whether it will be the same old, same old Arsenal, only good enough for the top 4.
Playing against Mourinho's Chelsea is never easy, and for some reason he just gets the better of Wenger, although being knocked out of the Carling Cup and an out of form striker I will definitely fancy our chances.
As for Arsenal, after being drawn with Bayern Munich in Champions League and the busy Christmas period upon us, if Arsenal can reach the January transfer window being top or within 2 points of the top, and investing in a proven striker and another winger I will definitely back them this season to win the Premier League. The key still remains, can we beat the "big teams" this season"
Although Mourinho is on a nine game unbeaten run against Arsenal the bookies will favour a draw.
The match could be won in midfield as both teams have world class midfielders but out of form strikers.
Expect a low scoring game. Although there would be more pressure on the Gunners to win then on Chelsea, and Chelsea might just setup as defensive formation and tell Arsenal come and break us down.
Arsenal have only beaten Liverpool this season, while they've come up short, against both Manchester clubs, and Chelsea in the Capital One Cup, so Wenger knows the jury is still out whether they can win against the other title contenders.
Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea
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