Chelsea will take on title rivals Arsenal at Stamford Bridge this Saturday, with Arsene Wenger’s 1000th game in charge of the Gunners set to be one of the most important in the club’s modern history.
The Frenchman will reach his landmark century with yet another edition of this London Derby, and it could be doubly significant for the Gunners, with a win taking them to within one point of Chelsea at the top of the table.
But Wenger has never beaten Jose Mourinho, home or away, with Arsenal’s last win against the Blues coming in 2009, a 3-5 win at Stamford Bridge with the failed Andre Villas-Boas at the helm in West London.
Since that day, Arsenal have lost three and drawn twice against their fierce rivals, and considering Mourinho’s 75-game unbeaten league record at home, it will be a tall order for the injury hit Gunners to come away with a win.
Victory for Chelsea would put them seven points clear of Arsenal, and with only a trip to Anfield left as a ‘top-four’ clash, the Blues’ fixture list looks to be the best out of all the title contenders.
Last Five Matches:
- 21 Apr 2012, Arsenal 0-0 Chelsea, Premier League
- 29 Sep 2012, Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea, Premier League
- 20 Jan 2013, Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal, Premier League
- 29 Oct 2013, Arsenal 0-2 Chelsea, Capital One Cup
- 23 Dec 2013, Arsenal 0-0 Chelsea, Premier League
Chelsea 2-0 Galatasaray, Champions League
Aston Villa 1-0 Chelsea, Premier League
Chelsea 4-0 Tottenham, Premier League
Fulham 1-3 Chelsea, Premier League
Galatasaray 1-1 Chelsea, Champions League
Tottenham 0-1 Arsenal, Premier league
Bayern Munich 1-1 Arsenal, Champions League
Arsenal 4-1 Everton, FA Cup
Stoke 1-0 Arsenal, Premier League
Arsenal 4-1 Sunderland, Premier League
The Managers’ Views:
On Tuesday, Mourinho said, as quoted by the Daily Star,“If Chelsea gives me the chance to arrive to 1,000 matches, I’ll be the happiest man there is in the world.”
Then on Friday, when asked if he had any further praise for Wenger by the Telegraph, the Portuguese replied,
“The tribute is to say we would love to have the same privilege with our clubs,”
“I admire Wenger and I admire Arsenal, a club that stands by their manager in bad moments – of which there were quite a lot.”
“In the Premier League game that finished 0-0, Chelsea were set up to stop us playing,” Wenger told ESPN,
“We didn’t manage to create enough to win the game and that is what we need to do on Saturday.”
“To be creative, to create chances and to stop them from playing as well because they have creative players up front who can open you up when you go forward. We need to find that balance between attacking well and defending well.”
Chelsea Team News:
Chelsea’s backline should remain the same, with Cesar Azpilicueta now arguably untouchable at left-back, as Ashley Cole rather sadly begins to gather dust on the touchline.
Ramires is suspended for the Blues, with the Brazilian given a straight in the league defeat to Aston Villa last time out.
With Frank Lampard playing the 90 against Galatasaray midweek, forgotten man David Luiz could slot into the midfield alongside Nemanja Matic, with the pair previously putting Manchester City to the sword in the Blues’ 1-0 win at the Etihad last month.
Samuel Eto’o will surely lead the line once again, with his midweek goal keeping him ahead of both Fernando Torres and Demba Ba.
Arsenal Team News:
With Kieran Gibbs out, Arsenal will surely start with the recovered Nacho Monreal at left back, while the rest of the back-line should remain untouched.
With no Jack Wilshere or Aaron Ramsey, the partnership of Mikel Arteta and Matieu Flamini is set to continue at Stamford Bridge.
Giroud will lead the line, with North London derby hero Tomas Rosicky, Santi Cazorla and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to back up the Frenchman.
Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott remain sidelined.
The Big Match Poll:
What do you think? Who will come out on top? Get voting, and let me know your thoughts in the comments below…