Can Arsene Finally Beat Mourinho?
Arsenal. Probably the most unoriginal way to start a blog but maybe that sums this post up. I'll begin by prefacing the drivel that will inevitable follow with a disclaimer - this is my first attempt at something like this so be nice - or I'll kill you. Just kidding (I'm really not). But joking aside, although you may imagine me as a titan among men who cares little about the thoughts of complete strangers, truth be told I am fairly meek and pathetic so bare with me whilst I find my feet.
And back on topic - Arsenal had a damn fine day in Europe but after it was clear the Szczesny's red wasn't going to lead to a heart breaking comeback, my thoughts in all honesty were firmly on our date at Stamford Bridge.
So what will we bring Jose on Sunday? A team fresh off an explosive (see what I did there?) night in Europe or the team that we saw at Leicester. There is no doubt in my mind that should the latter arrive then we may as well forfeit to save ourselves the embarrassment. Though I suspect/hope we will give them a good run for their money. I'm optimistic this time.
I've seen people tweeting on twitter and talking on pods about Jose's tactics and a brief summary is this - aim to win every game at home, aim to beat any lower team away, aim to draw against any "good" team away. Pretty simple stuff but nevertheless effective. And you can slate Jose as much as you want (please do) but the man has a knack for getting results in these kind of games.
Now Arsene's philosophy on the surface is pretty evident, we play our football and we aim to win every game and when we do play our football - I don't think there are many teams that would have a hope at stopping us. The problem inevitably arises when we play a team like Chelsea who specialise in preventing their opposition from playing and have the power, speed and skill to clinically put us to the sword.
So has anything changed from that woeful day? Well our line up included our strongest back 5 at the time + Arteta, Mozart, Ox (Gibbs v2), Cazorla, Poldi and Giroud. Well, this time our back 5 is arguably a little weaker, as great as Chambers has been he still seems prone to a couple of mistakes every match and I think Szczesny was playing slightly better last season. That being said, we do have Ospina and apart from his woeful kicking ability (always seems to go to the opposition) he seems to be a reasonable shot stopper. Either way, as long as none of them get sent off I think our defence should do a decent job, even if Per's lack of pace will be seen as an obvious weakness.
Well now we get to the meat of the story, most of the players in front of that back 5 are going to be different. We'll start by not addressing the possible Flamini/Diaby question because I don't know. Do we go with the option that will guarantee mediocrity or the option that could be stellar but could also force us into early substitutions. Frankly, I can't see Diaby starting but if he is only going to play 3-4 games for us this season then away at Chelsea isn't a bad shout.
And to get the easy one out of the way, we will have Welbeck upfront instead of Giroud. Now I love Oli, and Welbeck is most definitely growing on me (as long as he grows out of that accent). but the question mark they both have/had is whether they can be clinical. That aside, the biggest difference of having Welbeck and Giroud is "that guy's" pace - our midfield will have a little more room to breathe and Chelsea will have to be wary of the counter-attack. In this regard I feel more positive.
I've saved the best for last, "the creative midfield" is where I believe the game will be decided and we have a couple of choices to make (despite injuries). Though I want to address the elephant in the room and I promise that I won't say a word on Podolski because much like him - I can't be bothered. So who to play? Or rather, who not to play. I personally wouldn't pick Ozil - he looked pretty shattered and this is the kinda of game that would destroy the confidence he's been building up. It is also isn't a game where we can afford to easily lose possession and Ozil would definitely bullied by Chelsea. The Ox starts - I shouldn't have to defend that. Mozart looks a bit better, his first game back he was woeful but he is the type of player to put a shift in and I think we'll need that. So two spots left, and I'd give one to Jack. He is prone to losing the ball in these kind of games but I want to see him step up and on evidence from this season he looks like he's found some form. Then the final piece of the puzzle, Santi or Alexis? Well I think the answer will unfortunately have to be tempered with an air of caution, Alexis took a few knocks and will probably only come on as a sub. As unfortunate as that is, Cazorla also seemed to have a but more about himself against Gala so hopefully he is keen to cement a starting spot (a spot I'm not sure he has if the whole team is fit (not that the whole team will be fit - lol!)).
Ultimately, I think our team is in a reasonably okay place mentally, a few on the pitch performances have been pretty lacking and Jose has a knack of beating Wenger. But all of that aside, I have a feeling in my gut that we'll win. Call it stupidity (don't actually) but I think Welbeck will be the difference, not necessarily his finishing, but his movement, pace and work ethic. Chelsea had an easy time defending Giroud and weren't at all worried about a counter-attack, this time things are a little different.
Now I realise I avoided talking about Costa and Cesc and the changes made by Chelsea but hell I'm buying into Wenger's philosophy - you pick your team, we'll pick ours and then we'll attempt to play you off the pitch.
Thanks for that, Sim. I only the most pessimistic of Arsenal fans would disagree with you about our team being completely different from the one that lost 6-0 in March and we'd agree that Arsenal pose a much more potent threat on the counter and this might see Mourinho temper his tactics slightly to attempt to nullify us. It's going to be a hard match to win and it's almost impossible to call - unless you work in the media or aren't an Arsenal fan and then it's a Chelsea win all day. We're with you, maybe Arsenal can surprise us.
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