Gillespie Guest Post: The Chelsea Perspective

On Saturday the Arsenal welcome London rivals Chelsea to the Emirates. Here Marco Gilmour offers some insight into the mood amongst the Chelsea fans. It seems the recent history between the sides, added to their excellent start to the season means Chelsea arrive in confident mood. Potentially controversial is the theory that Mertesacker could be our weak link even though he’s been a rock thus far this season. Make your own minds up..

Chelsea vs Arsenal has produced some fantastic games over recent years. Arsenal were the team I probably hated most growing up, this may be purely down to the fact than one day as a young boy I sat in the West Stand at the Bridge, rain thrashing into my face. We were 2-0 up with 10 minutes to go; I was about to watch Chelsea’s first ever victory over the Gooners, only for a certain Nwankwo Kanu to come on and score a ridiculous hatrick….

Arsenal’s period of dominance continued over Chelsea with some freak contributions from Winterburn and Sylvinho along the way. However the balance of power began to change in London and one would have to identify Wayne Bridge’s neat finish in the last minute of the Champions League quarter final at Highbury, which sent Chelsea through, as a major turning point. This swing in power was further consolidated by the man whose name will cause Arsenal fans and players (in particular Philipe Senderos) to shudder, the one and only, Didier Yves Drogba.

However, Saturday’s game may be the most evenly matched Chelsea and Arsenal have had in recent memory. Both have lost their best strikers, although Arsenal in far more controversial circumstances. Both have also made some great signings. Chelsea’s signings have been high quality however they’ve slightly surprised me. We seem to have bought a lot of talent but they all play in the same position. Hazard should be tracked carefully by Arsenal, although comparisons to Ronaldo are surely premature. Oscar’s goals against Juventus has shown he should be a big worry for Arsenal, prompting the question- who will start? Hazard? Oscar? Mata? All 3? Not to mention Moses and Marin. A nice situation to be in, but what troubles me is who do all these great midfield maestros assist? Torres? Chelsea lack a “Plan B” and a below par Fernando Torres is not a particularly good Plan A.

However, it seems Arsenal have a similar problem, which is what makes this game fascinating. Friends who support Arsenal are already comparing Giroud to Chamakh, maybe a bit unfairly but worrying nevertheless. After breaking his duck against Coventry, is Saturday the time for Giroud to prove himself? I hope not. As he did at the Etihad, Wenger may start Gervinho in a central position, but he is not a centre forward. Both Arsenal and Chelsea lack a quality centre forward which means that it’ll have to be up to the wingers and attacking midfielders to penetrate. Hopefully, resultantly it will make a very open game.

Looking at the Arsenal line up I cant help but think that Per Mertesacker is the weak link. If I were Di Matteo I would tell my small skilful attackers to target him, it seems like he could give away a penalty at any minute. However this is slightly hypocritical as Chelsea possess David Luiz at the heart of their defence. Put David Luiz in any other team he’d be my favourite player, he’s refreshing to watch and makes any game far more enjoyable. However as his injury time
tackle against Stoke further proves, he is verging on being a lunatic. He’s erratic and I pray Di Matteo pairs Terry with Cahill.

There’s been a lot of praise heaped on Chelsea’s new signings , however Arsenal’s new boys can’t be ignored either. The man we should be most scared of is Santi Cazorla, he’s wonderful and will need to be marked at all times. This will most likely be the job of John Obi Mikel or perhaps Ramires. Podolski too is a shrewd signing, and probably the man I’d least like a chance to fall to on Saturday. Apart form those two signings the Ox, if deployed, could be a threat. I feel that Chelsea’s defence with the likes of JT and Ashley Cole can deal with him. However with Ivanovic marauding forward there would be a clear opportunity for Podolski to exploit us by getting in behind.

The bookies have a Chelsea win as the most unlikely result; unfortunately I’d have to agree. I think that it will be a close game and as I can’t predict an Arsenal win I’d have to go for a 2-2 draw, however with both teams playing quite free flowing football any result is possible. Ivanovic announced Saturday’s game is our biggest test so far and it certainly is. The balance of power continues to shift.

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