Titles challenges are rarely decimated in the space of a week, but Arsenal run the risk of needing a massive favour from the table leaders if they to lose to Chelsea today.
10-man Liverpool won a morale-boosting derby yesterday and suddenly the game on Wednesday looks tougher than it did a week ago. When Wenger said this sequence of games would be critical, he wasn’t kidding. Arsenal have now lost 2 out 2 winnable games and head into the game most fans wouldn’t back them to win even on a good run of form.
So why am I backing Arsenal to hold Chelsea to a draw today? Three reasons:
One – Arsenal’s away form. As several Arsenal bloggers have pointed out, Wenger’s men line up as a well-balanced unit in away games and play to their strengths. They have no reason to fear a tonking – Arsenal have at times outplayed Chelsea in the past few years and only Barcelona and maybe United last season at Old Trafford can lay claim to that. Arsenal know the stakes but more importantly they have the self-belief that they can take on and beat Chelsea despite being outgunned.
Two – Chelsea’s lack of ruthlessness. More than any other team, Chelsea have had the chance to run away with the title this season. Arsenal and Manchester United have seen more ups and downs than Fernando Torres in a Champions League game and yet Chelsea have gone on to concede happily built leads as well. It’s telling that Manchester United, despite their horrible injury crisis and poor form leading up to Christmas, are still a point ahead of Chelsea.
Three – Set Pieces. Arsenal aren’t the tallest team by a long shot, but they are technically and tactically good enough to take advantage of Chelsea’s weaknesses at set pieces and I’m putting money on them scoring from such a set piece.
Today’s bets on the Chelsea – Arsenal game:
First bet: 1-1 Draw at 11/2
Second bet: Gallas to score for Arsenal at 10/1
Alternative bet: Fabregas to score and get booked at 9/1
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