Saturday, 24 September 2016

Arsenal v Chelsea Preview

Arsenal are going quite well in the league at the moment with three wins in a row and nine goals scored in those games. That's a pretty good return for a team who aren't playing a striker and only City have more goals than them in the opening five games of the season. Those three games were against teams they were expected to beat though and today's game will be a tougher task.

They face a Chelsea team who have 10 points from their opening five games too, but who have taken only one point from their last two games. They were beaten for the first time last week at home to Liverpool and drew away to Swansea in their previous game. Like Arsenal they have struggled to keep clean sheets and both teams have only managed one in their first five games.

On the face of it both teams are in a very similar position even if their results have gone the opposite way to each other. They both suffered their only defeat at home to Liverpool and both teams will be looking for three points to try to keep pace with a City team who have a 100% record so far. The loser of this game could find themselves eight points off the top of the table if City get the expected three points at Swansea and a draw would see them both seven points adrift.

There's a long season ahead, but it can't be a good thing to give a team like City a lead like that so early on. I'm not suggesting this is a must win game for both teams, but it's not far from it. There will be plenty of twists and turns to come, but Arsenal will want to continue their winning run and Chelsea will want go put a stop to their recent slide.

From a team selection perspective it looks like Arsene Wenger will more than likely go with the team that won 4-1 away to Hull last week. It seems to be his favoured starting line up at the moment despite £35 million new boy Granit Xhaka sitting on the bench. Xhaka came on late against Hull and scored a stunning goal and he got another one in the midweek EFL Cup victory away to Forest despite being bought more for his defensive qualities.

The team who played in that win at Forest did very well and showed that we have plenty of quality in reserve. As well as Xhaka's goal we got two from Lucas Perez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain chipped in with one also. Considering the boss made 11 changes from the win over Hull it shows the strength in depth we have and those players will all be anxious to get a chance in the first team.

I'm still not pushed on Alexis Sanchez playing as the central striker, but the boss seems determined to pursue the project and he did score twice last week. He probably should have had a hat trick as he missed a penalty too and we seem to be getting quite a few penalties this season. We have four already in our five league games and we only got two in 38 league games last season. It would be great if we improved our conversion rate with both Alexis and Theo Walcott missing their attempts and Santi Cazorla at least scoring both of his.

I think we will make enough chances today to have every chance of winning the game, but our hopes could well depend on how we defend as a team. We have had our run ins with Diego Costa as he has had in just about every game he plays. Our players cannot react to his provocation today and we just have to hope the referee will for once see what he gets up to and punish him appropriately. Chelsea won their first two games with late goals from Costa and he should have been sent off in both games before getting those goals.

I don't think it will be an open free flowing game with goals galore and a thrill a minute. To be honest I'm not too concerned what sort of game it is once Arsenal emerge victorious. They can do that, but it will require their best performance of the season so far and their first 90 minute performance too.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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