Morning Gooners. We've reached the end of another week and it's been a good one for Arsenal thus far. Six goals against Coventry in the League Cup and now we move on to more important business as we prepare to
The Blues rampaged their way through their own League Cup fixture, also scoring six goals, and they sit atop the Premier League table, so it's obvious they will arrive brimming with confidence. Yesterday, for a brief period of time, it appeared that both John Terry and Frank Lampard would be absent from this fixture; Lampard from injury and Terry from suspension. Reading today's headlines, it seems both of them will be on the pitch tomorrow afternoon. Terry has appealed his ban and evidently Lampard is fit enough to play, so we can expect a nearly full strength Chelsea side, as only Daniel Sturridge will be unable to play. Sturridge is suffering from a niggling hamstring problem that has kept him out for three matches, leaving Fernando Torres as Chelsea's only striker. Read that again if you'd like.
Arsenal are as fit as we could have hoped. There are no new injuries, and Vermaelen is over his illness. Technically Frimpong would be available, but we won't need him for this match. Wilshere is very close to returning but needs a little time with the U21s. That leaves Sagna, Rosický and Szczęsny who are all at least a couple weeks out, but in all honesty their absence isn't an immediate concern for us, as our backups have done very well.
Last week we drew with City at The Etihad and I have to admit to being pretty satisfied with the result. I'm not sure I'd feel the same way if we draw with Chelsea. I know how tough of a match this will be for us, but if we are going to contend for a title this season, I think this is the type of match we need to start winning. It's on our home pitch, we're surprisingly fit, and we have the confidence that comes along with scoring 13 goals in three matches. Apart from that, we're only about a month into the season and Chelsea are already four points clear of us in the table, and this is a great chance for us to close that gap.
We're going to need a very strong performance from the attacking front to win this match. The goals have been coming in bunches but against weaker opposition. Six against Coventry, six against Southampton, but we struggled to get just one against City. Defensively, Chelsea figure to be at least as tough as City, so we'll need to make sure we don't flounder easy chances (Gervinho). Giroud broke his duck in the League Cup match and we'll see if that was the key to him finding his form. It seems like everybody expects him to become the next Henry now that he got his first goal out of the way, and not only is that terribly unrealistic, it also puts heaps of pressure on a player who is already trying to fill the shoes of a guy who scored 37 goals for us last season. There's no guarantee Giroud will even play tomorrow, and I think he's more likely to come on as a sub, especially if we're needing a goal late in the match, which seems a strong possibility. I'm guessing we'll see Podolski, Gervinho and Walcott, as this gives us the best trio of in-form players.
I really feel like we've got a shot at this one. We did very well against Chelsea last season. Of course there was the 3-5 victory in October at Stamford Bridge, and a nil-nil draw at the Emirates late into the campaign, which gave us a much needed point. If we can hang three points up tomorrow, we will find ourselves directly in the mix at the top of the table after a pretty rough schedule, and heading into some easier fixtures. I couldn't ask for anything more than that, especially considering we've got some top players returning from injury. Enjoy the match fellas, and I'll see you on Monday. COYG.