It’s the English Premier League’s big game of the weekend as second place Arsenal face the division’s leader Chelsea. Jose Mourinho’s team have a nine-point advantage with two games in hand and will lift the title if they win this game and their next one against Leicester. Still, this promises to be an intriguing game of football between two of the EPL’s better clubs.
Arsenal have won eight straight league games and have the opportunity to win a second straight FA Cup when they face Aston Villa in the final later on in the season. There’s been plenty of talk about Arsene Wenger’s adjustments this season and the way he has approached games against the likes of Man Utd and Man City compared against past years. It will be interesting to see how aggressively Wenger approaches this game.
Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil are playing their best football in an Arsenal uniform and Olivier Giroud is playing a physical game up front. Giroud occasionally divides opinion as a player, but he is in an elite vein of form right now and when his touch is as good as it has been lately, he is a difficult player to stop.
We fully anticipate that Wenger will attack this game. He will want to secure a first victory in 11 attempts against Jose Mourinho – a man who has so far always managed to get the better of him strategically.
Of course, there are also bigger things for Wenger to be concerned about. An FA Cup triumph and a second place finish would be marked as a highly successful season for both the manager and Arsenal. Even picking up one point against Chelsea on Sunday helps towards that particular advantage.
Chelsea got the result they needed last weekend. Even if the game against Leicester isn’t the one where they confirm their title victory, it’s still only a matter of time. Mourinho does have some attacking conundrums. Diego Costa is unlikely to be risked, while Didier Drogba has his own fitness problems and the manager may not elect to use him even if he is available.
Instead, it’s very foreseeable that Mourinho will elect not to use an out and out front man instead lining up with a group of advanced players including Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas.
Maybe Mourinho will surprise everyone again, but it feels morel likely that he’ll be happy to play for the 0-0 draw, while hoping that one of his highly-skilled players makes something happen and scores a goal just as Hazard did last weekend.
Betting Preview: Arsenal 7/5, Chelsea 23/10, Draw 9/4
An early goal could really change the face of this game, but there might just be a hint of hesitation in Arsenal’s attack. They may not push the pace and risk getting hit on the counter attack too much. This looks like a classic cancel each other out contest.
The Pick: Bet365.com Draw 9/4