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Preview: Chelsea v Arsenal: team news, Welbeck to start & prediction
Our Premier League ‘title challenge’ rests on Saturday’s trip to Stamford Bridge as we take on run-away leaders Chelsea.
Tuesday night’s shocking 2-1 defeat at home to Watford has left us with a huge mountain to climb as instead of closing the gap to six points, we now sit nine adrift of the Blues.
A win in midweek would really have made tomorrow’s game interesting but sadly the players once again bottled the chance to apply some pressure at the top and we now need a miracle.
Realistically, we need to win tomorrow to stand any chance of catching Chelsea and closing the gap to six points would at least make the next few months interesting.
We know we can beat them as we comprehensively won 3-0 in the reverse fixture at the Emirates back in September so the players have to believe we can reproduce that kind of performance again.
The only problem is this is an entirely different Chelsea side we’ll be playing tomorrow as the defeat to us prompted Antonio Conte to switch to a 3-4-3 formation which has seen them become almost unstoppable.
Ramsey has been ruled out for three weeks after suffering a calf injury against Watford in midweek so he joins Cazorla on the treatment table.
With Elneny at the Africa Cup of Nations and Xhaka still suspended we have a crisis in midfield but thankfully Oxlade-Chamberlain was able to take part in full training today so he should start alongside Coquelin.
Giroud is also expected to shake-off a minor ankle injury that he sustained in midweek but Welbeck is set to return after being rested against Watford.
Bellerin and Walcott should also get recalls to the starting eleven after they were named on the bench last time out.
As for Chelsea, they have no injuries to worry about. None. Not one single injury problem. What a nice position to be in, eh?!
I don’t think there’s any doubt this is the team we simply have to play tomorrow. I’d go with Welbeck up top but he can easily interchange with Sanchez throughout the game. If Wenger goes with Giroud, we might as well just give them the three points.
Chelsea are expected to line-up: Courtois, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill, Moses, Kante, Matic, Alonso, Pedro, Hazard, Costa.
I really think it’s time for Mesut Ozil to step up. His form has dipped in recent weeks and we desperately need a big performance from him, and from Sanchez, in this pivotal game. Unfortunately, the team hasn’t shown us enough that they are capable of turning up when it really matters and we’ve developed a reputation as a bunch of bottlers.
Will the players respond to the pressure of knowing our entire Premier League campaign rests on this game? My heart would love to say we can pull off a cheeky 2-1 win, but the best my head is saying is a 1-1 draw. Chelsea 1-1 Arsenal