One of the first big, big games of the season kicks off at Stamford Bridge tomorrow, with Arsenal looking to establish themselves as genuine title contenders. Chelsea, after winning their opening five Premier League games without breaking sweat, face a second tough game in succession after they lost at Man City last week.
Arsene Wenger’s side come up against a much physically stronger, and much bigger, team in Chelsea: something Arsenal have often struggled with in the past. Wenger, however, is confident that his players’ passing game will be enough to overcome Chelsea
“How can you explain why Spain won the World Cup and Barcelona beat Chelsea in the Champions League? Football is not only down to physique. It’s down to intelligence, technique, mobility – there is not one way. That’s what makes it interesting. I feel anyway we should not make an obsession of one player of Chelsea because they have a few who can score goals. What is important is that we have the ball, that we dominate the game and that we are efficient defensively. We can do it.”
Arsenal will line up with Lukasz Fabianski between the sticks again, in the continued absence of Manuel Almunia. As much as choosing between Almunia and Fabianski must be akin to choosing between contracting chlamydia or gonorrhoea, the Pole has a real chance to stake a claim for a first team place, following a good performance against Partizan Belgrade in the week.
They’re also still without Fabregas, van Persie, Walcott and Vermaelen. Chelsea, conversely, are relatively injury-free, although Lampard and Kalou are out. Didier Drogba returns after missing their Champions League game against Marseille through injury.
Wenger’s right that football is about more than physical dominance. But this isn’t Blackburn. He’s up against the title-holders. And, with the players Arsenal are missing, I can only see a Chelsea win here.
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