A lot has been made about tonight’s game, and it is something I am really looking forward to. Which ever way you look at it, it is a massive game. The team that usually tops the Premier League table at Christmas goes on to win the title, so that’s something big to aim for. But like in life, things are never straight forward and for that to happen, we need to overcome a Chelsea side managed by Jose Mourinho.
It has been well-reported that in the previous nine matches between Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho, the Arsenal manager has failed to win a single encounter. And this season in the Capital One cup when the two “reserve” sides met, Arsene was clearly out of his depth tactically. Arsenal never looked like winning that game and Chelsea never looked like losing it.
The problem we have tonight is that although Jose Mourinho has been moaning recently about dominating games but not scoring enough goals (because of his misfiring strikers), that makes no difference to tonights game. Like it or not, Mourinho knows exactly how to play against an Arsene Wenger side and the way they play, they can use their tactics and formation to score from midfield. Against us earlier in the season, it was Juan Mata and Cesar Azpilicueta who scored the decisive goals.
The other argument for Chelsea getting a result against us is that we’ve only had “two big games this season” and lost them both – against Manchester United and Manchester City. While I’ll admit that we were well below par in both of those games, we have still beaten Liverpool, Napoli, Borussia Dortmund and Tottenham this season, so I don’t necessarily agree with that sentiment.
But I do think this is a massive test for Arsenal. If we want to believe we can win the Premier League title this year then for me, this is a must win game. Some will say it’s just 3 points and we’d still be within touching difference but if Chelsea win it will give them a huge amount of confidence going into the new year, and that is something we don’t want. Because of the results the way they’ve gone this weekend, if Chelsea do win then we could finish the weekend 4th in the table, after being top for most of the season.
So how is Arsene going to play this tonight?
Mourinho is a clever manager who doesn’t think twice about making radical changes to his team during any time of a match.
And they have the players with quality in their squad who can hurt us from anywhere.
You would have to think that Arsenal will have to put in the performance of their lives tonight to convincingly get the win. It will have to be a complete performance where no-one makes any mistakes – because as we saw in the Capital One Cup, any mistakes we make will be taken advantage of.
Against most sides in the league, we could go toe to toe with them and give them a game, but with Chelsea, they are dangerous, intelligent and unfortunately for us, they will raise their game for their visit to The Emirates and won’t be putting in a below par performance like they did against Sunderland in midweek.