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Arsenal v Chelsea - Forget everyone else, it's about Drogba!.

It's been a long two weeks without football. There's nothing worse in my opinion than building up to a game and it get's calle...

Stamford Bridge, Chelsea v Arsenal , Premier League 03/10/2010 Didier Drogba of Chelsea celebrates scoring the 1st goal 1-0  Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International Photo via Newscom


It's been a long two weeks without football. There's nothing worse in my opinion than building up to a game and it get's called off. For Chelsea and Arsenal it meant an extra week of recuperation which has enabled the likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard, Cesc Fabregas and Robin Van Persie, time to get themselves ready for what is now the biggest game of the season for both sides but for very different reasons.

For Arsenal it's simple. If they want to be considered as genuine title challengers they need to win this one. Cesc Fabregas has spoken of the players being scared of the big games. Arsene Wenger has spoken of a mental block the side face and come up against when they play the likes of Chelsea and United. Wenger and his side will be looking for a win to establish some confidence and belief that they may have a real chance this season.

For Chelsea it's also simple. Without a win in five games, with JT, Alex, Lampard and Essien missing and Didier Drogba suffering from a bout of Malaria, Chelsea have been woeful. Chelsea need a win today to get ourselves back on track and on the coat tails of United after they have taken another three points yesterday. United sit six points clear of Chelsea and we have a game to play against them after last week was called off. You have to say at his stage, although it's a long season, Chelsea cannot afford to drop points.

Stamford Bridge, Chelsea v Arsenal , Premier League 03/10/2010  Samir Nasri of Arsenal discusses tactis with Sebastien Squillaci of Arsenal prior to the 2nd half kick off Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International Photo via Newscom


THE ARSENAL.

Arsenal have only won twice in thirteen games against Chelsea which is astounding. This season Arsenal have already been beaten by Chelsea and have lost to United so they need to try and get a win today. I have been shocked at the response on here I have received about the Arse from their fans. The majority aren't expecting anything of Arsenal today and expect Chelsea and Didier Drogba in particular to have a great game against them and win this one. It's left me wondering why.

From an outsider (with blue tinted glasses, again trying to be non biased) let's take a look at Arsenal. If you were Carlo today you will highlight the weaknesses they have in their side and I think even Arsenal fans will admit that I am right. It's their two centre backs and their keeper. Arsenal have never really replaced David Seaman really ever since he left. I don't think the gooners have confidence in Almunia or Fabianski so Szczesny has played and done quite well. It will be interesting to see who Wenger starts with today.

The two full backs pick themselves at the moment, but only at the moment as you have to say Kieron Gibbs will be installed as first choice soon as he has impressed especially for England. So Clichy will start one side and Sagna the other. It's the centre back pairing that provides the Arsenal fans (especially today up against Drogba) with more nervy moments than they want to have to deal with. For anyone who comes into the Premier League from abroad will find it tough in their first season. Koscielny and Squillaci have been thrown into the fire and at times will find it tough.

Stamford Bridge, Chelsea v Arsenal , Premier League 03/10/2010 Laurent Koscielny of Arsenal sits down on the pitch Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International Photo via Newscom


For me you need an English centre half there in your back four who knows the game and knows the league. If you think about it Arsenal have never replaced Sol Campbell. You want players that will travel away to Newcastle in the freezing cold on a Wednesday night and will battle up against big strong forwards. Up for the challenge and for the fight and I think especially in the Premier League you need someone English there. These two today will have to face Didier Drogba today and more on that later.

If you look at the Arsenal midfield and forward line you see their undoubted strength. The new boy Chamakh has done well for me but at times I think he doesn't get the ball enough. For example at Chelsea we have Drogba through the middle with Anelka and Malouda up alongside. Now when our midfield get's the ball one of them will drop deep and the other two will make runs either out wide or in behind providing options. With Chamakh up front through the middle and the way Arsenal play you will see him dropping deeper and deeper to get the ball. When he does, there is no one making the run in behind. He is a threat in the air and JT and Ivanovic need to with the first and second ball against him today.

Their midfield is packed with central midfielders playing in different positions and at times I believe this is the reason they over play. We have all seen it. With Arsenal it's pass, pass, pass which is all well and good, but when they get outside the box they lack the killer pass and play from side to side when a through ball is on. Someone like Samir Nasri doesn't want to take a man on down the line nor does Arshavin. They want to bring the ball inside all the time. It's because of this that people have sussed out how to play Arsenal. You keep your defensive line solid and quite narrow because you know they won't look to get to the byline to cross the ball into the box.

Stamford Bridge, Chelsea v Arsenal , Premier League 03/10/2010  Florent Malouda of Chelsea tangles with Alex Song of Arsenal Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International Photo via Newscom


I think Arshavin is a good player with bags of ability but doesn't track back when he loses the ball, seems lazy to me without the ball and this causes Clichy problems down that side. Alex Song is the only holding midfielder I know that pushes forward!. If he sat in his position, has a complete disregard for going forward to let the others do it then he would have much more of an influence in midfield. Cesc Fabregas has quality that we are all aware of but to me looks a big leggy. Now whether or not Wenger has it dead right when he says he "has his hamstring injury in his head" we will never know but it will take him time to get back to the level he was playing at.

Stamford Bridge, Chelsea v Arsenal , Premier League 03/10/2010  Jack Wilshere of Arsenal in action with John Terry of Chelsea Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International Photo via Newscom


It's very interesting today to see if Wenger goes with the very impressive Jack Wilshire in the middle to match Chelsea's three man midfield, or if he goes with Robin Van Persie in behind the forward. I believe with the Gooners being at home he will play Van Persie from the start. Now whether or not this will help or hinder Arsenal is another thing. If he goes with two in the middle with Fabregas next to Song they could be overrun. If they go with Wilshire then Chamakh could become isolated.

Stamford Bridge, Chelsea v Arsenal , Premier League 03/10/2010 Samir Nasri of Arsenal shoots on goal blocked by John Terry Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International Photo via Newscom


For me the danger man is Samir Nasri. I believe he is wasted out on the wing and if he starts there today it will be a bonus for us. It's my opinion that Arsenal should have sold Fabregas to Barcelona for two reasons. Firstly because even though he is at the Emirates you know deep down his heart is at the Nou Camp. Secondly because Nasri is Fabregas' ready made replacement and for me influences games much more than Fabregas when he plays in that position. Nasri is more skillful than Fabregas and has a trick up his sleeve which provides Arsenal with a different threat. Take his goals the other week, both were fantastic and provided Wenger and everyone else a demonstration of what he can bring to the team playing there. After all this he still won't start in the middle today, he will be forced out wide right and that plays into our hands before the game has even started.

So to sum Arsenal up, they have obvious threats from midfield and up front. Two steady and reliable full backs who both know the English game. However, its their weakness in goal and in the middle of their defence that can be, has been and hopefully will be exploited today.

Stamford Bridge, Chelsea v Arsenal , Premier League 03/10/2010 Ashley Cole of Chelsea celebrates with Didier Drogba of Chelsea after Alex scores the 2nd goal 2-0 Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International Photo via Newscom


CHELSEA.

For Chelsea the best news of the season so far is Frank Lampard is back fit and raring to go. Never has anyone been missed as much as Frank Lampard is and has been. All I need to say is if you take someone who has scored 20+ goals per season for the last five season you will really miss him. It's not just his goals but we have missed his influence, the vocal Frank Lampard and his ability to pick a pass more than ever. Frank is back today. I am not expecting Frank to be the box to box midfielder we know week in and week out today, but the fact he will be there giving it his all is such a bonus for the Manager, the Players and the supporters today.

Petr Cech will be in goal and is looking like getting back to his best. Cech is an example of the difference between the two sides today. Chelsea have had him there between the sticks for years now and he is solid and provides the back four with complete confidence. Arsenal haven't had this as I have said before for a few years now. Cech will be tested today at times, he needs to be at his usual best and come and grab anything in around the box and up in the air to calm things down today.

Stamford Bridge, Chelsea v Arsenal , Premier League 03/10/2010 Ashley Cole of Chelsea has this goal ruled out offside  Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International Photo via Newscom


Ashley Cole will start and I have said it before there is nobody better. He will be up for a challenge with Nasri today and this is the battle that could also be key towards the outcome of the game. If Nasri get's caught inside, Cole will get forward and expose Arsenal's right hand side today. Expect Cole, going back to his old club again, to get stick as always and he will love it. I believe Cole could have a big big game today.

JT and Ivanovic are showing signs of playing well together. With Alex out for a while and young Bruma on the bench, we need to keep these two fit. Some people will look at these two and believe they are not exactly the most mobile and pacey defenders around but one thing they both are is solid. Ivanovic is pure strength and will look to dominate Chamakh. Terry will look to sweep up behind him. There is no doubt they will need to be up and at it today to provide Chelsea will an important foundation to build upon.

The question today is who plays right back?. For me is has to be Ferreira ahead of Bosingwa purely from a defensive point of view. At the Emirates you need to remain solid at the back and we have enough players who can punish Arsenal going forward so I would stick Bosingwa on the bench as I feel personally that Ferreira is the better defender. Besides, he had a good game two weeks ago against Spurs and Gareth Bale.

Stamford Bridge, Chelsea v Arsenal , Premier League 03/10/2010 John Obi Mikel of Chelsea in action Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International Photo via Newscom


I expect Mikel to play in the holding role today and do a job there. Expect Mikel when we don't have the ball, to be the one to watch Fabregas and pick up his runs. Mikel when he has the ball needs to release it early to start a Chelsea attack or counter attack. Mikel needs to be solid today, no slip ups, silly tackles or needlessly giving the ball away. If he starts giving it away it could leave us exposed and Arsenal will have the ability to punish us!

Michael Essien will play in midfield to the right of the middle where he normally does. Essien hasn't quite got up to speed at the moment since returning from his three game ban and hopefully this extended break will help him get back to his level of fitness ahead of today. Essien needs to play well with and without the ball. His presence on the pitch is immense and he will need to remain solid as ever when he is defending our goal. No silly tackles today please Michael!.

Stamford Bridge, Chelsea v West Bromwich Albion, Premier League 14/08/2010 Frank Lampard of Chelsea in action  Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International Photo via Newscom


Frank Lampard being back as I have said it massive for us. Its the presence of the man, the influence he also has, the passing ability and option he gives us and added to that another voice on the pitch. Of course today we will expect to see him up and down that pitch all game and if we don't see that to begin with it will be important to remember that match fitness tales time. Wouldn't it just be typical Frank that he makes one telling pass or late run into the box today to announce to the world he is back!.

Frank will also be expected to play his part without the ball. I have to say he doesn't get the credit he deserves for his teamwork in defensive area's. Frank will look to make an impact today, what he needs to remember is that with him just being on that pitch and playing is the biggest bonus for everyone.

Up front expect to see Malouda return wide left, Anelka wide right and Didier Drogba through the middle. Normally you can cope with one or maybe two of them having good games. Today we need all three of them to play well. Malouda needs to be more clinical with the ball, get his shots off on goal from outside the box, get his link up play with Cole down the left hand side going and his movement back to how it was at the start of the season.

Anelka needs to remain higher up the pitch, not get sucked deeper and deeper and get in behind their full backs. At times Nico seems to drift in and out of games so he needs to impose himself on this one early. The more Anelka gets sucked deep and the more it will play into Arsenal hands.

Stamford Bridge, Chelsea v Arsenal , Premier League 03/10/2010 Didier Drogba of Chelsea holds off Alex Song of Arsenal  Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International Photo via Newscom


There is one man than can have more of an affect on this game than any other and we all know it's Didier Drogba. This guy can terrorise any defence you put in front of him and everyone knows he can. It's down to the player himself to show us he wants to grab our side by the throat and take us back to the top of the league or if he doesn't. Carlo's decision two weeks ago could be the decision that turns our season. I know it sounds stupid but it really could.

Drogba wasn't playing well and we all knew it. Carlo made a bold bold decision to drop Drogba first of all for the Spurs game and the secondly to come out in public and say "Drogba isn't playing well" and you have to give him immense credit for that. We all saw the performance Drogba put in when he came on for the second half as he felt as though he had something to prove. Yes he should have scored his penalty and he was openly apologetic to the fans afterwards, but it was the way he played leading up to that point that made me stand up and take notice. He was strong, he was powerful and showing signs of the real Didier Drogba we had all been asking to show up for weeks now.

Have no doubt that Drogba having two full weeks to sit and digest the fact that he didn't start the last game, would have been working his arse off in training to get the start today. I like the rest of you believe he will start. He just needs to show us that he is back and what a chance to show everyone he is!.

To Sum Up.

So to sum up ahead of tonight these are two sides looking for a big big win tonight. Arsenal have a lot to prove to Wenger and to their fans and they would see beating Chelsea tonight as a chance to do that. They too have had two weeks to prepare and are at almost full strength. Expect Arsenal to have alot of the ball tonight, we all know they have the players to hurt us with the ball but tonight will be all about how they cope without the ball.

Chelsea are also at almost full strength, will want to demonstrate we are back and ready to take the league by storm and what better chance than beating Arsenal on their home patch. Chelsea need their big players to show up tonight, remain focused and solid without the ball and then expose Arsenal when we have the ball.

Alot is being made of the rest the players have had. The focus beforehand will be of Fabregas, Van Persie and Lampard being back in their teams tonight but it for me it will be about Didier Drogba. If the caged Animal we all know and love is unleashed tonight then this bloke could win the game by himself.

Will he be the Animal we expect or will Arsenal finally get the better of one of the big four? Tonight we find out and what are the odds of Chelsea fans seeing this kind of celebration tonight?



KTBFFH

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