Throughout the week, and throughout the various blogs which have been published this week… we’ve restrained from talking about the Chelsea game, as we didn’t want to start too early! But now it’s Saturday and Christmas day itself and suddenly we’re only 2 days away from the game, I think it’s safe to start talking about it.
For me, the way in which big games are won are by their match-winners and we saw against United, Park Ji Sung was the goalscorer by Nani was the match winner – we couldn’t deal with him all day and something was going to give. Against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge earlier this season, Chelsea had a match winner in Didier Drogba, who unfortunately made all the difference. And for Monday, the team with the more match winners will win the game.
Last season, our match winners were Cesc, Van Persie and Arshavin, but this season, we only have one match winner in Samir Nasri – I am talking about when a big team plays a big team, who will make the difference… The question is whether one of last season’s star players will step up their game and become a match winner, and of course, whether Chelsea will crowd out man of the moment, Nasri, from having much of an effect.
The team that plays on Monday should be relatively strong, and we are at home, so we do have those two advantages – and after the 2 week break, I think the line-up will be:
Sagna – Squillaci – Djourou – Clichy
Wilshere – Song
Nasri – Cesc – Arshavin
With a bench of Fabianski, Eboue, Koscielny, Denilson, Walcott, Chamakh and Rosicky…
I’ve chosen Szcznesy in goal as after playing well in against United, I don’t see Arsene taking him out of the team, despite the big gameness of this next fixture. With Cesc & Van Persie having had 2 weeks of extra training since their last outing, I’m sure they’ll both get the nod.
Arsene feels the game is a must-win… and I’d agree!!
“Of course, this is a must-win game. We have mixed feelings because we came out of both games against Chelsea and Man United this season thinking we could have won and that there wasn’t a difference between the teams. We have a good opportunity to show that in the coming months and that our improvement is bigger than any other team because we are a very young side. It’s about how well we respond to what happened to us at Chelsea and Man United that will be the decider for our season. We have played Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool away so our home form in these kind of games will be decisive. We are confident over taking Chelsea on at home. We face a big challenge. What we want is to produce an intelligent game full of dynamism. That is the only way we can win these big games.”
Our home form has been not so great with losses to West Brom, Newcastle and Sp*rs still prevalent in the mind – and despite 5 losses this season, we are somehow 2nd in the table! And if we think we’re bad, then Chelsea have been worse, as they’re behind us in the league.
“Chelsea have gone through a period where results are a bit less good but that can happen to anyone in this league. We have seen recently that any team, when you think they are on the brink of breaking through, can have a hiccup. Maybe it’s just the quality of the league. You never know whether it’s the best time to play Chelsea. Every game is specific and a new start. They have a little bit less confidence than they had in October but we know that winning will be down to our performance. We know that on Monday we will play against a top team and we do not expect any weakness on their side. We want to put a top-level performance in at the Emirates and show we are masters at home.”
And at the end of the day, it will come down to how many match winners Chelsea turn up with, and how many we do…
More tomorrow for a Boxing Day review of Monday’s game…
Enjoy your Christmas everyone…