Chelsea v Arsenal – Match Preview

London will come to a standstill on Saturday lunchtime as Arsenal make the short strip to Stamford Bridge to take on rivals Chelsea with both teams looking to continue their recent good form.

Andre Villas-Boas will be hoping his sides Carling Cup win over Everton in extra time on Wednesday hasn’t sapped the energy levels of his players going into the game against the Gunners. It’s been a rapid transition for the club since the 34-year-old took over the reigns from Carlo Ancelotti in the summer but he’s certainly made his mark during the opening weeks of the season. The Blues have been in good form of late, playing some scintillating football  winning five of their last seven since losing to Manchester United at Old Trafford on 18th September. Last week’s defeat away at QPR was their first loss in six games but their cause wasn’t helped with Jose Boswinga and Didier Drogba both receiving red cards in the first half. The game was overshadowed by allegations of racism with Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand accusing John Terry of abusing him after the pair squared up to each other during the game. The Chelsea skipper denied it but with video evidence apparently proving his guilt Villas-Boas has a big decision as to whether he starts with his first choice centre half. It will be the first time the Portuguese coach has faced up against Arsenal since taking over in West London and he’ll be hoping to maintain the clubs good record against Arsene Wengers side. Chelsea haven’t lost against the Gunners at home since 2008 tasting defeat only once in the last 10 games at Stamford Bridge. The Blues will be without key midfielder Ramires who will sit out the game with a knee injury but Fernando Torres is back from suspension to boost the frontline.

After a dreadful start to the season Arsenal have picked up dramatically of late winning seven of their last eight games with captain Robin Van Persie leading the charge. The Dutchman has been in superb form this season scoring nine goals in his last 13 in all competitions and more importantly staying clear of the treatment room. It’s been a period of intense change at the Emirates Stadium with Arsene Wenger overseeing his worst start to a campaign since taking over in 1996. The Frenchman has turned things around after it in remarkable fashion weathering the storm as the level of discontent growing in the stands reaching a dangerous level. Seven wins in the last eight games have allayed fears that the club were on a rapid decline with Wenger’s summers signings finally starting to perform. Mikel Arteta has started to exert his influence in midfield with a series of string pulling performances in the centre whilst Per Mertesacker is finally started to show the type of form that made him one of the most sought after defenders in Europe. His presence in the back four has been key to Arsenal’s recent good form with only seven goals conceded in the last eight games since the losing 4-3 to Blackburn. The only blip on the record remains the 2-1 defeat to Tottenham in the North London derby three weeks ago. Wenger will have to do without key faces Thomas Vermaelen, Jack Wilshere, Bacary Sagna and Carl Jenkinson who are all currently taking up residence in the treatment room.

Key Players

Juan Mata – The Spaniard has been a quality addition to the Chelsea squad bringing a fluidity and extra touch of class to the Stamford Bridge midfield. His intelligent movement and ability to operate in between the lines will be key to the Blues chances of beating in-form Arsenal who are looking a lot stronger than they did at the start of the season.

Robin Van Persie – Despite being rested last week at home to Bolton the Dutchman still came off the bench to score twice and win the game for the Gunners. His goalscoring exploits this season have been key to Arsenal in their time of crisis and he’ll fancy his chances at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Prediction: 2-1

  • That defeat saw Chelsea players drop down the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, with Frank Lampard and John Terry dropping out of the top ten to 13th and 14th respectively.
  • In Ashley Cole Chelsea also have the fourth most prolific tackler in the league, having won 28 tackles, 85% of all those attempted
  • Van Persie has had more attempts at goal than any other player in the Barclays Premier League with 37 (65% on target). Six goals in his last four Premier League games takes his season tally to seven.
  • Arsenal covered 115.273km in that game, and it is noteworthy that they covered more ground in the second half than the first half (57.25km v 58.023km) as van Persie’s presence inspired his team to lift their performance