League leaders Arsenal will host Chelsea this Sunday at the Emirates Stadium. The Gunners (35 points) could see Liverpool overtake them if the reds beat Cardiff on Saturday. For Chelsea (third with 33 points) a victory at the Emirates combined with a Liverpool draw or loss would see them go top of the table in the Barclays Premier League.
The two teams met earlier this season in the Capital One Cup with a 2-0 victory for Chelsea. Beaten by Manchester City 6-3 last week, Arsenal will be looking to bounce back and go five points ahead of Jose Mourinho‘s men in the table. When they step on the pitch on Sunday, Arsene Wenger‘s men could find themselves behind Liverpool and will need to win to finish the day on top of the table. If a win could send Chelsea on top of the table, a loss for the blues could see them being overtaken by Manchester City and Everton.
Excellent since the start of the season, goalkeeper Wojciech Szcesny will once again be Arsenal’s shot stopper on Sunday. In central defense, Thomas Vermalaen will deputize for Laurent Koscielny and partner Per Mertesacker for his second Premier League start of the season. After Nacho Monreal‘s poor display against City, Kieran Gibbs should be back at left back while Bakary Sagna will as usual be at right back.
Mathieu Flamini and Aaron Ramsey should be in central midfield with Theo Walcott on their right. After his two goals last week it’s difficult to imagine the English international not starting. In the absence of suspended Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla is very likely to start on the left side of Arsenal’s midfield. The Spaniard was surprisingly an unused substitute at the Etihad Stadium last week. Mesut Ozil will occupy his favorite No. 10 role behind striker Olivier Giroud.
Jose Mourinho will very likely keep his favorite 4-2-3-1 system at the Emirates. Petr Cech will be between the sticks with his captain John Terry and English international Gary Cahill in front of him. Branislav Ivanovic will be at right back while Cesar Azpilicueta will play left back. Brilliant in recent weeks, the Spaniard seems to have gone ahead of Ashley Cole in the pecking order.
Not used against Sunderland on Wednesday in the Capital One Cup, Ramires will surely be back in the starting XI. Either John Obi Mikel or Frank Lampard should partner the Brazilian international unless Mourinho decides to use David Luiz in central midfield. Eden Hazard will play his usual left winger role while Juan Mata — not in the squad on Wednesday — should be on the right. Oscar will play as a No. 10 behind Fernando Torres, who has been picked over Samuel Eto’o for most big games this season.
Prediction: Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea
Both Arsenal and Chelsea have lost their last game and need a result. It should be a great tactical battle between Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho, and both will make sure their team doesn’t lose the game first before trying to win it.
Malamine Sane is a soccer writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @ twitter.com/malamino