Chelsea might be the team leading the league, but they don’t seem to be impressing anyone with their ability. The wins are still coming, winning 13 of 15 possible points so far. Everyone is complimenting Arsenal for both their offense and defense, but they’ve won only two matches so far this season.
Still, in Chelsea’s visit to the Emirates, Arsenal look like the probable favorites. Arsene Wenger isn’t really certain about he wants to start for him up front, but it seems likely that the Gervinho – Podolski pairing continues with both players scoring two leagues goals this season. Theo Walcott is making a bid for the striker spot, but for now it seems Arsenal will stick with their four midfielders formation behind two forwards who both aren’t natural strikers.
Chelsea have their own scoring problems, although they have not conceded in their last three matches. John Terry hasn’t appealed yet, but if he will, he’ll get to start while the club waits for a decision regarding his suspension. The bigger problems are up front, where Fernando Torres suddenly looks like a shell of the player from a few years ago; the same shell that has been wandering around Stamford Bridge for nearly two seasons, although the start to the season looked like a change was approaching. We all were wrong, apparently.
The big problem for Chelsea, in their wins, losses and draws in all competitions this season, has been the midfield. Thing might start to look better with Oscar, but Frank Lampard is far from the player he was not too long ago, and isn’t completely healthy, questionable for the derby match.
John Obi Mikel and Ramires seem like the only real options for Di Matteo in the middle; Mikel is simply unable to be influential and become the defensive midfielder everyone at Chelsea expected and still expect him to become, while Ramires is anything but a central midfielder, being much more productive while playing on the wing.
Arsene Wenger spoke about how relieved he is that he’s finally not facing Didier Drogba, for the first time since 2004, the last time Arsenal won a league title. Coincidence? Probably, but there’s something a lot less physical to this Chelsea side, much more reliant on the abilites and gifts of Eden Hazard and Juan Mata. The key for Arsenal will not be stopping Chelsea’s troubled striker, but limiting the touches and freedom of Chelsea’s three attacking midfielders, who switch position and try to be as free as possible, with one of them usually keeping an eye on their opponent’s defensive midfielder, Arteta in this case.
Advantage? Arsenal look like the favorites in this one. Because despite winning only twice, they have been playing better than Chelsea, and deserved to come away with their encounter against Manchester City with the win. Chelsea barely made it out of their home match against Stoke City with a win, and lucky to have David Luiz off the suspension list. If luck doesn’t play too much of a role, this is Arsenal’s match to win.