Mikel Arteta has another opportunity to grab a vital win for his side, as Arsenal travel the short distance to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea.
The fixture list has thrown up a strange one here, as we took on the Blues only a month or so ago and it was Arteta’s second game in charge. We put in a fantastic first half performance and went in at half time a goal up, but we failed to make the most of our advantage, ran out of steam and eventually fell to a late sucker punch, losing 2-1.
It was a game that, while disappointing, filled us with optimism as it showed we were on the road to recovery. Stern defending, fast passing and creating chances, we were showing signs of life and making a team that was in the top four, look decidedly ordinary.
Arteta has had a few more games to iron out some more creases, but there is still plenty of work to be done, as shown in our last game, the weekend’s draw at home to Sheffield United. We struggled to break down the rugged Blades rearguard and while dominating possession, we rarely troubled Dean Henderson in the Blades goal.
Presumably, Chelsea will pose an even bigger test than Sheffield United. Worse still, is that this game is n away game too – where our record is poor for the last two seasons.
Lampard’s side lost their last game too – a dramatic late loss away to Newcastle – so they will be very keen to get back to winning ways.
Arteta has his work cut out here.
Who can he count on?
Hector Bellerin most likely won’t be risked for this game, so Ainsley Maitland-Niles will continue at right-back. At left-back Sead Kolasinac and Kieran Tierney are both out, so Bukayo Saka is likely to maintain his spot on the left of defence. Sokratis missed out against Sheff Utd in the weekend through illness and Mustafi played well in his absence, but the Greek defender may well come straight back in.
Midfield? Lucas Torreira is a doubt after carrying a knock, but should be ok, but Arteta may alternate and include Matteo Guendouzi to keep Torreira fit.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will serve the second of his three game ban, so Lacazette will be the sole striker and the impressive Gabriel Martinelli should keep his place after scoring his first Premier League goal against the Blades. Dani Ceballos is fit and could grab a spot on the bench.
Player to Watch
The Brazilian has been consistent for the Blues since he chose Stamford Bridge over Spurs, and he has been given a big role by Lampard so far. The wide player is excellent with set-pieces and is wily too, drawing fouls in dangerous positions and capable of a long-ranger. A close eye is needed for this one.
How This Could Go
Chelsea could be wise to our blistering start tactic as we used it in the corresponding fixture to great effect. We could do with putting them on the back foot though, and that means we need to use our pace. Martinelli will be crucial.
Nicolas Pepe is another who has taken on the responsibility of taking the ball and going forward. He may be facing a youngster in the from of Reece James, and the Ivorian could have a field day. His delivery will be pivotal – can he find Lacazette and Martinelli?
We need to keep a lid on it at the other end though. Shkodran Mustafi played well in the weekend, but Sokratis could come back in and David Luiz will have a point to prove – do we have enough?
This game could go either way, but we need to make the most of our chances. We have enough to buck this away day trend – and what a place to do it.
Let’s Go Gunners
Predicted Lineup – Leno, AMN, Sokratis, Luiz, Saka, Torreira, Xhaka, Pepe, Ozil, Martinelli, Lacazette
Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal
Have a go at predicting the lineup yourself if you think you can do better!