Chelsea vs. Arsenal Preview: A Managerial Rivalry Renewed
Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger aren’t the closest of buddies. They’ve exchanged a war of words with each other, they hardly exchange pleasantries and last season, Wenger went as far as shoving Mourinho when both sides clashed in Stamford Bridge last season.
After failing to best Mourinho in 12 attempts, Wenger finally got his victory, albeit in a non-competitive fixture, against his Portuguese nemesis as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s stunner was enough to make the Gunners retain the Community Shield. With five Premier League games gone so far, Arsenal and Chelsea are in contrasting forms, as the Gunners are five points away from the league leaders, Manchester City, in third place, while Chelsea has endured their worst start in three decades as Mourinho’s side has amassed a solitary win, one draw and three surprising defeats, leaving them theme floating above relegation waters.
In the Champions League in midweek, Arsenal and both Manchester clubs suffered defeats while Chelsea ran riot past a hapless Maccabi Tel Aviv side. Today, all that would count for nothing. It’s Chelsea vs Arsenal, a match that brings the city of London to a stand still as the town’s most successful clubs go head to head for bragging rights.
Arsenal has suffered a lot of defeats on this ground but the Gunners last victory came as far back as 2012 when Robin van Persie smashed in a hat-trick in a 5-3 victory.
To team news, I expect Arsene Wenger to make wholesale changes to the side that struggled in Zagreb. Petr Cech would have a game of his life as he returns to a place he once called home for 11 years in his illustrious career. Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal will return to the starting XI in the defense and with Per Mertesacker not deemed fit enough to start, we would see the Koscielny – Gabriel combo in the heart of the defense.
Francis Coquelin will replace Mikel Arteta in the holding role alongside Santi Cazorla while Aaron Ramsey will definitely come in for the Ox at the right. There would obviously be the conundrum of who’d lead the line with Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott giving their manager something to think about.
It promises to be an exciting encounter.