Normally we start this post every week before a game by welcoming the opposition to the Emirates.
There’s not of that this week, it’s Chelsea. The sooner they bugger off back to their corner, the better.
In the meantime, here’s everything Arsenal need to know to make it 13th time lucky against Jose ‘anti-football Mourinho.
|Home Ground||Stamford Bridge (42,055)|
|Record Signing||Fernando Torres (£50m in 2011)|
|Ex Gunners||Cesc Fabregas|
|Top Scorer||Diego Costa (19)|
|Top Assister||Cesc Fabregas (21)|
|Most Yellow Cards||Cesc Fabregas (11) Branislav Ivanovic (11)|
|Star Player||Eden Hazard|
Style of play
When Jose Mourinho left Chelsea the first time, the rumours were that it was because Russian billionaire owner, Roman Abramovich, was rather underwhelmed by the way Mourinho’s teams approached winning football games.
Fast forward seven and a bit years and it’s pretty much a case of same old, same old.
The foundation of Chelsea’s success is very much rooted in their defence, with only Southampton (24) conceding fewer goals than Chelsea’s meagre 26.
Ahead of a sturdy back four and the shielding Matic, it’s fair to say that some of Chelsea’s more attacking players have underwhelmed, with only Fabregas, Hazard and Costa having any kind of impact on their results.
Typically Chelsea have still dominated possession in games this season, but it’s unlikely we will see that approach on Sunday. Instead, we can expect to see Mourinho select two defensive midfielders and instead invite Arsenal forward to try and hit them on the counter attack.
Inevitably a lot of their own attacking play goes through probable player of the season Eden Hazard on the left wing. Interestingly if you remove penalties from his numbers then he is dwarfed by Alexis Sanchez, who has 22 goals to Hazard’s 12 and 11 assists to Hazard’s 10, and the outcome of the game could be decided by which of them steps up to the plate for the big occasion.
However unlike Hazard’s lacklustre support, Alexis Sanchez can count on his teammates to do the business if he can distract the Chelsea defence enough.
Season so far
Chelsea started the season like someone had set fire to their team bus, winning 11 of their first 14 games, and drawing the remaining three, all away from home and against United, City and (bizarrely) Sunderland. In the process they scored 33 goals in those 14 games at a rate of 2.36 per game.
And then disaster struck – for Chelsea fans. Newcastle ended the media speculation about an unbeaten season with a 2-1 victory. Since then, Chelsea have scored 31 goals in 18 games at a rate of 1.72. Quite the difference.
Over the season so far, Chelsea have actually drawn more games than Arsenal, and the change in form has been stark in 2015 compared to 2014. Last year just three of Chelsea’s 19 games ended in a victory by a one goal margin, whereas in 2015 seven of their thirteen games have been won by the smallest of margins.
For comparison, Chelsea’s goal difference over the first 19 games was +27, but for the next 13 games just +12.
It’s fair to say then, that they’re not playing especially well, but are being carried by the form of Hazard. The Belgian has five goals since New Year’s Day drubbing at Spurs, all in one-goal victories, as well as four assists which have come in two draws and two further single goal victories. He’s a game changer.
A Capital One Cup final victory over Spurs has somewhat papered over the cracks of the 2-4 reverse at home to Bradford in the FA Cup. At least our kids made it to penalties, Jose.
Chelsea may be practically crowned champions, but there have been enough signs this season that they can be toppled next year. In 2015 alone, Arsenal would top the Premier League table by three points from their London rivals and have an eight-goal superior goal difference.
Sunday’s game is a test of whether this Arsenal team can topple Chelsea in these top-of-the-table clashes.
Arsenal’s last 5 results against Chelsea: LLDLL
|League||05/10/2014||(A)||L 0-2||Arsenal: –
Chelsea: Hazard (27pen) Costa (78)
|League||22/03/2014||(A)||L 0-6||Arsenal: –
Chelsea: Eto’o (5) Schurrle (7) Hazard (17pen) Oscar (42, 66) Salah (71)
|League||23/12/2013||(H)||D 0-0||Arsenal: –
|League Cup||29/10/2013||(H)||L 0-2||Arsenal: –
Chelsea: Azpilicueta (25) Mata (66)
|League||20/01/2013||(A)||L 1-2||Arsenal: Walcott (58)
Chelsea: Mata (6) Lampard (16pen)
Record for Arsenal v Chelsea:
Overall record between the two clubs:
Chelsea’s last 5 results: DWWWW
|League||Hull City||(A)||W 3-2||Hazard, Costa, Remy|
|League||Stoke||(H)||W 2-1||Hazard, Remy|
|League||Man Utd||(H)||W 1-0||Hazard|