Chelsea V Arsenal : Pressure is on for both of us!

Who can forget the feeling at the final whistle back in November as we beat the Arsenal at the Emirates in a display that one of our most ...

Who can forget the feeling at the final whistle back in November as we beat the Arsenal at the Emirates in a display that one of our most impressive of the season. Soon after the game Arsenal were out of it and we were flying high. We are still at the top of the League but to their credit the gooners have picked themselves up and put a run of games together to put themselves back in contention.

That run came to a shuddering halt last Sunday against United and if Arsenal don't win on Sunday you have to say they will have a job to pick themselves up once more for the run in. Looking at the game a few days beforehand you have to say (even if you are a gooner) that its going to be a big ask to come to the Bridge and pick up the points. I am sorry to say Gooners I can't see it happening and here's why!

The game on Sunday is all about some key battles that will determine the outcome of the game. Firstly both Managers will have a selection headache before the game. Its reported that Eduardo is out for Arsenal and he joins (in my opinion their best and most effective striker) Robin Van Persie and Carlos Vela out of contention. That leaves Arsene with a choice of Arshavin, Bednter or Walcott up through the middle.
Carlo Ancelotti has (bar Essien, Bosingwa and possibly Belletti) a full squad to choose from and has a real headache about the midfield and the forward line. Mikel and Kalou are back in contention and others who have come into the side have done well.

One key area is obviously how William Gallas (remember him?) and Vermarlen deal with Didier Drogba. Drogs has been away at the ANC but made his return in midweek and scored a great free kick and will be hungry to make up for lost time. You can say what you like about Drogba but every supporter knows when he is up for it and on his game and playing well he is unplayable.

Now will Ancelotti play the 4-3-3 with Anelka and Malouda either side of Drogba? or will he revert to the 4-diamond-2 formation?. Will he bring Mikel back into the holding role and move Deco further forward at the expense of Malouda? These are questions that come 1500 on Sunday we all will have the answer to.

But there is one key area for me that will be the deciding factor about the game on Sunday and thats the midfield battle. We (in my biased opinion) have the strongest midfield (talking about quality and depth) in the Premier League and no matter who plays we should be dominant against the midfield we are faced with in Arsenal shirts on Sunday.

I have to say, I have been impressed with Alex Song and the selfless job he does for the Arsenal. He is quite happy to sit infront of Gallas and the others at the back and protect them. He likes to come short and play simple short passing balls into the likes of Fabregas, Nasri, Rosicky and Arshavin. But I haven't seen him put under real pressure on the ball. No matter how we play on Sunday he will have a man to pick up and will not have the same time on the ball to play his passes so let's see how he copes.

Fabregas will look to get on the ball and get forward to support. There is no question he is one of the best players in the Premier League and he can have a real effect on the game if he has the ball and time and space to drive at our defence and get behind our midfield. I can't see this happening at all. He suffered at the Emirates against us and against United he gradually drifted out of the game.

For me there is one weak link in their midfield and I have to say its Denilson. He was exposed in a big way on Sunday against United and his defensive weakness in my opinion costs Arsenal.

Have a look at the Rooney goal from Sunday here:

You will see when the ball is played out to Nani its Denilson who thinks about trying to catch him and close him down, then gives up and then doesn't think about tracking Rooney's run, so Nani plays it into Rooney, and unmarked he finishes. Denilson is nowhere to be seen.

He lacks the defensive instinct and this is where it leaves Arsenal's midfield exposed. Don't get me wrong on their day they can be as effective as anyone but against our midfield Denilson and his mates will not have an easy ride.

They have to cope with our possession play and the threat we post from Lampard and Ballack getting forward along with Drogba, Anelka and Malouda (if we play 4-3-3) or Lampard and Ballack looking to support Drogba and Anelka with possibly Joe Cole or Deco behind the front two looking to play them in (if we play the 4-diamond-2 formation) so their midfield will be busy.

With Ashley Cole on form bombing down the left hand side, Ivanovic looking solid and an easy match for Arshavin or Nasri down his side and JT and Carvalho looking to deal with the one man they will play up front it will play into our hands. Arsenal also have to deal with the threat we post from set pieces as they are't exactly the tallest side in the League and with our 6-foot plus brigade coming up for corners, the shaky Almunia will need to be dominant in his own box.

Its being built up as the game to make or break Arsenal's season but I personally see the game as Chelsea's chance (once more) to keep the pressure on United who before kick off, could be within a point of us once more.

Fergie said after the game last week that he wanted Arsenal to go to the Bridge and "Batter them" but I am sorry but I can only see this being the other way around.

Prediction and early Chelsea goal and another 3-0 to put an additional dent in their aspirations and keep the pressure on United.





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