Arsene Wenger had admitted that Arsenal need to overcome a hurdle in order to beat Chelsea after finishing both clashes last season without 11 men on the pitch.
During our run-in at Stamford Bridge, Gabriel (and later Santi Cazorla) was sent off after an alternation with the lovely Diego Costa. The dismissal was controversial and put an even more bitter edge on the game. The Blues won 2-0.
When they returned to the Emirates later in the season, Per Mertesacker was sent off early on, once again forcing us to play one of our rivals with only 10 men on the pitch. Chelsea won 1-0.
“Last year we played twice against Chelsea with 10 men,” Wenger said to the Arsenal Programme.
“Maybe we have a hurdle to overcome. It’s what you call an inconvenient fact. An important quality of a team is to change things – when you have an opportunity to change things, you take it.”
It’s clear that there is a mental block for us when it comes to playing Chelsea, although I’m hoping that now Jose Mourinho is no longer in charge there, we could have slightly more confidence heading into the clash.
As Wenger said, it won’t be easy but hopefully we do manage to change things.