Preview: Chelsea vs Arsenal
The world is against Arsenal.
Wenger’s men were seemingly sitting on top of that same world when they hauled themselves back into the title race and lead the Premier League table on January 20 – after a fitting comeback victory over Bolton.
But it is since then that Arsenal have faltered.
An FA Cup ousting by Stoke City, a mere result at Villa Park and a forgettable meeting with United ended a blistering run Arsenal had fired since, who else, but Chelsea.
The walls of north London took some cracking when the blues stormed the Emirates with a 0-3 victory over 2 months ago. Wenger and crew picked up the pieces afterwards and mustered an impressive rebuilding to claw back into the thick of the title race.
But right before Arsenal would confront Chelsea to tell how better life has been since that humiliation in November, Manchester United made sure they will be telling a very mixed ‘how far’ story when they arrive in west London.
It is somehow back to square-one for the Gunners.
Therefore, it appears that facing Chelsea FC is something like Arsenal’s ‘reset button’ this season. But the difference is that this time, it will not take a defeat against Ancelotti’s men to relight the fire to Arsenal’s campaign. In fact, only victory at Stamford Bridge will do.
And one man bold to tackle the task is…you know who.
‘There is a lot of skepticism around us at the moment and we have to show everybody how strong we are. I am convinced that we are capable of winning anywhere in the world. I believe that if we play at our best we will win and I know how much the players need this kind of win.” Wenger said on Friday.
‘This team is mentally strong and dedicated. But because they have not won yet they make it a bit harder in their heads to win than it is. We played with the handbrake on a little bit against United.
‘If we are in a strong position after these games, we don’t have to play Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Everton again this season. Six points behind Chelsea is not dramatic.’
The words of the Arsenal manager are greeted with hope rather than expectation because in truth, only he may fancy Arsenal on Sunday.
You would tip Chelsea to prevail if you were a neutral fan and most will agree that predictions of a defeat have never been slapped on an Arsenal fixture like this before.
They will bid to defy the odds but after been outclassed 0-3 and 1-3 at home by title rivals, Arsenal do deserve the underdog tag on Sunday.
For the good of their title aspirations though, the truth is that statistically and perhaps historically – in recent years at least – these ‘big four’ confrontations are meaningless in May’s final standings. Manchester United’s road to championship last season – which only took one ‘big four’ scalp – is the latest and perfect example.
So Arsenal may still hang in the mix even if it all goes wrong again this weekend, but then on, when it comes to meetings with Chelsea, everything matters.
Beatings to the Stamford Bridge side these days are turning notion into proof that there is a shifting balance of power in London.
That adds more to the facts and opinions Arsenal will have to put straight on Sunday, but not with the world turning against them like this.
In fact, they will have to provide something out of the blue to overcome the blues.