5 Key Match-Ups: Arsenal vs. Chelsea
Arsenal vs. Chelsea: 5 Keys Match-Ups
In a clash of top four giants on the eve of Christmas Eve, Chelsea and Arsenal will both be looking for three points to continue their chase for Premier League glory. With Liverpool already securing three points on the weekend against Cardiff City thanks to the blazing form of Luis Suarez, Arsenal will be looking for three points to retake first place in the league, while Chelsea will be looking to move even on points with the Merseyside club.
The two clubs have already faced off once this season in an early round Capital One Cup match up in which the Blues emerged victorious by a score of 2-0. Unfortunately, we can’t really use that as a measuring tool of how this match will unfold because both clubs fielded weakened teams.
The Blues will be without midfielder Michael Essien currently serving a one match ban for picking up his fifth yellow card in six appearances, while the Gunners will be without Jack Wilshere who is serving a two-match ban after an inappropriate gesture towards the Manchester City fans last weekend was deemed worthy of a suspension by the Football Association. The North London club will also be without starting central defender Laurent Koscielny who is still out after sustaining a deep gash in his knee in the Gunners’ loss to the Citizens. They do get a boost, however, with the return of Lukas Podolski who has been out since late August.
When the kickoff comes around Monday evening in London, these five match-ups could be decisive in who walks away with three points and who leaves empty handed.
Fernando Torres vs. Per Mertesacker, Thomas Vermaelen & Wojiech Szczesny
The Spanish striker, fresh off of his goal against Crystal Palace in the Blues’ last Premier League match, could cause the Arsenal defense and goalie some trouble. With Koscielny out, Thomas Vermaelen takes his place alongside Per Mertesacker in the defense, and the duo will look to shut down the Blues’ striker. If he does get by the two central defenders, it’ll be up to Wojiech Szczesny to try to keep his seventh clean sheet of the campaign.
Eden Hazard vs. Bacary Sagna
The tantalizing Belgian winger will look to continue his fine form this season. Eden Hazard will likely lineup on the left side of the Blues’ attack, meaning Bacary Sagna will be the Gunners’ foil. The French right-back should give Hazard all he can handle, but the Belgian’s unpredictability and sheer talent will make this one of the most crucial match-ups in the clash.
Frank Lampard & Oscar vs. Mathieu Flamini & Mikel Arteta/Aaron Ramsey
Chelsea’s central midfielders against Arsenal’s defensive midfielders will be just as important as the previous match-up. After being manhandled by Yaya Touré last weekend at the Etihad, Mathieu Flamini will hope his compatriot, Mikel Arteta or Aaron Ramsey, can help avoid a repeat of last weekend. With the ageless Frank Lampard and creative Oscar as the foes this time, Flamini and his partner in the center should have their hands full.
Theo Walcott vs. Cesar Azpilicueta
With the recent return of Theo Walcott to the Arsenal lineup, pace and creativity was added to the team. It’s likely the Englishman will return to the starting XI against Chelsea with Wilshere serving his suspension. Cesar Azpilicueta will be the Blues’ man to shut down Walcott with José Mourinho already confirming Ashley Cole will be on the bench.
Olivier Giroud vs. John Terry & David Luiz/Gary Cahill
Finally, the Chelsea central defenders will have their hands full with the focal point of Arsenal’s attack, Olivier Giroud. John Terry is almost a lock to start for the Blues and either David Luiz or Gary Cahill, who just returned from injury over the weekend, will join him. The prolific Frenchman has seven goals and four assists in Premier League play already and will look to add to his tally at home.