José Mourinho’s men will take on Arsène Wenger’s Arsenal side at the Emirates this Sunday. Chelsea will be looking to take a 13 point lead in the Premier League, while Arsenal looks to keep their slim title hopes alive. Expect Chelsea to come out on top, for multiple reasons explained below..
- Managerial Matchup
Chelsea has the upper hand on Arsenal in the office. Wenger just simply can’t beat Mourinho, and in the last 12 matchups, Wenger has failed to beat the Portuguese manager. Mourinho has been tactically perfect recently, especially against Arsenal. Chelsea’s 6-0 beat down on Arsenal last year is a perfect example of this. Mourinho is a man of mind games, and you can be certain he has a mastermind plan ready to go this Sunday. I suspect he will come out wanting to park the bus, allowing Arsenal to control the possession, then exquisitely counter-attack and expose Arsenal’s mistakes and leaks in their defense. Sounds like last week against Manchester United right?
- Consistent Back Four
It is popularly accepted that Mourinho will look to John Terry and Garry Cahill to control the central defense posts, with Branislav Ivanović and César Azpilicueta manning the flanks. This defense has proven itself across the season, with only Garry Cahill having a drop of form once this season. Chelsea has only conceded 27 goals this year, only Southampton have conceded less (24). John Terry is one of the most consistent English defender all-time, part of the reason he is still starting for Mourinho, and still wearing the captain arm band on his left bicep. Ivanović only has one obvious weakness, that being his pace. A pacey winger could provide plenty of problems for him, but he did well against Ashley Young last week, and I suspect he will carry his form over to this week. We will not see César Azpilicueta pushing forward like Branislav Ivanović will this week, but he will be holding his position in his own half, focusing on keeping Alexis Sánchez in his pocket. This defense will prove too much for Arsenal’s attack, and will play a large part in starting the counter-attack for José Mourinho.
- Cesc Fàbregas
Mourinho will use Cesc in a different role then he normally does, playing him higher up the pitch in Oscar’s familiar no. 10 role. This new positioning allows Cesc to display his world-class talents in making crucial passes, and amazing off ball movement. Not to mention, this is his first time playing in front of Arsenal supporters since he left for Camp Nou in 2011. Expect to see a new energetic, prolific Cesc this weekend at the Emirates.
- Eden Hazard’s Magic
Eden Hazard has been undoubtedly the most amazing player this year in the Premier League, creating chances, assisting goals, and scoring clutch goals consistently for José Mourinho. He was the difference in the Manchester United match last weekend, scoring the lone goal and leading Chelsea to the 1-0 victory. Chelsea has relied on Hazard to create chances when Costa is out, and Cesc is out of form.
- Per Mertesacker and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Arsenal struggled against a Reading team, showing gaping holes in their defense, and lacking an attack from the opposite wing of Alexis. These problems are directly related to the injuries to veteran center-back, Per Mertesacker and explosive winger, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. They are both figured to be 50/50 for the clash on Sunday, but if either of these players is inactive, expect Mourinho to take full advantage of it.
(All stats from squawka.com)