Oct 2, 2010

Do Arsenal have the muscle to break down Chelsea?

By Melanie Hughes

Last week in North London prior to the West Bromwich Albion game, the general feeling from Arsenal fans was boredom. Not with the style of football, but with the predictable nature of their team; the fans were frustrated because they would beat West Brom 4-0 but go on to lose at Chelsea, Manchester United. This was probably a fair assumption to make considering that Arsenal beat the every time in the bottom half of the league at home last season, and West Brom had failed to win an away game for two years.

However, their boredom soon surpassed and lose, they did. The only positive the fans could take from the defeat was that by this logic they should win at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

The Gunners’ chances of victory against the Champions this weekend seems to be getting slimmer and slimmer with Cesc Fàbregas, Thomas Vermaelen and Manuel Almunia all ruled out. It’s widely documented that Arsenal are prone to the odd stutter without their captain pulling the strings in the middle of the pitch. Not only will this mean potentially relying on 18-year-old Jack Wilshere as the playmaker, it also paves a way for Fabianski to make his first Premier League start this season; something Arsenal fans have been much dreading.

The hapless Pole had an impressive game in midweek against Partizan but one match does not a reliable ‘keeper make. There are still massive doubts about Fabianski’s merit as a top level goalkeeper. It’s going to take a string of faultless games before he wins anyone’s trust; but he has a very good chance to rid himself of some demons this weekend.

Arsenal need to play with discipline, Song needs to do the job which made him such an important player last season; make great tackles in the midfield and protect the back four. Too often he is seen getting forward and linking up play near the opponents’ box. Whilst there is no doubt that he is good at it, it is not his job. The full-backs must be reined in because too often they are getting caught out of position and with Song pushing further up field there is very little cover.

Chelsea are not only much stronger and more experienced but they are also more organised that Arsenal which explains why Chelsea have conceded 2 goals in the Premier League this season whereas Arsenal have leaked 7. Chelsea has also not conceded a Premier League goal at Stamford Bridge yet. Do Arsenal’s strike force of Chamakh, Arshavin and Rosický really have the muscle to break down that barrier?

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