The XI: Chelsea vs Arsenal – Coquelin in midifeld!
Chambers – Mertesacker – Koscielny – Gibbs
Flamini – Coquelin
Oxlade – Ozil– Sanchez
It says ‘goalkeeper’ up there because you could make up all sorts of arguments over why Szczesny or Ospina should be the choice in goal. One thing for sure is that Szczesny has some maturing to do. The back four picks itself so attention shifts towards the midfield where Arsenal will either win or lose this game brutally.
With Arteta and Ramsey injured, the little physical presence that Arsenal had in central midfield has suffered some shrinking. Unlike Galatasaray, Chelsea will not be playing at the Emirates stadium on Sunday and they will not be playing a high line at the back either. Any expectations about those free-flowing passing moves you saw on Wednesday will have to be limited because if any side knows how to defend frustratingly well against Arsenal, it’s Jose Mourinho’s.
Chelsea will have their own plan to score plenty from counter-attacks and therefore Arsenal will require more ball winners in that midfield. Barring the miraculous availability of Abou Diaby, the 0nly defensive midfielder we have in Matheiu Flamini will have to retain his place in the line-up despite his recent frailties. That pair in front of the back four should be a gutsy one, and unless Jack Wilshere is ready for the dirty work then Coquelin, a player who is a more natural ball winner, will have to be called upon.
Coquelin is highly underrated and indeed a disciplined player when played in his preferred role. His inclusion means that someone like Santi Cazorla who can be too ultra-attacking minded in away games will have to sit out. Only one of Ozil and Cazorla can fit in a line-up which has to be disciplined when we lose the ball. Ozil will be the choice in that number 10 role…for now.
Due to his versatility defensively and fine form in attack of late, Oxlade-Chamberlain should be the first name on that team sheet. The same goes to the hardworking match-winner Alexis Sanchez.