EPL: Arsenal vs. Chelsea: Who Has What It Takes?
It's the second big challenge in a row for Arsenal — after they drew away to current champions Manchester City last week.
There was the midweek distraction of the Capital One Cup, but this game is the real thing.
At the moment, Chelsea are on top of the EPL with four wins and a draw.
They are looking solid at the back with only two goals conceded in those five games. They also spent an awful lot of money in the summer to add to their attacking options.
It was odd to see them spend so much money on attacking midfield players without adding to their striking options.
Fernando Torres has been responsible of leading the line for them, but it's been a couple of years since he has been at his best. Chelsea's failure to replace Didier Drogba could be a costly one as the season progresses.
So far, Chelsea haven't faced any of the so called "bigger" teams in the EPL. This will be their first real test of the season.
A couple of seasons ago, they started in fantastic style by winning their first six games, but they fell away when they came up against the better teams.
The outcome of this game might be a better pointer towards how good Chelsea really are.
What will be the outcome of Arsenal V Chelsea?
Arsenal had a slow start to their EPL campaign with a couple of 0-0 draws. Goals were tough to come by in those opening games, but they have come as the new players have blended in.
Including Wednesday night's demolition of Coventry City, Arsenal have scored 12 goals in the last two home games.
The defences they played against in those games weren't as good as the Chelsea defence, but they could only beat who they faced.
Everybody is wondering if Chelsea Captain John Terry will play. He was found guilty of the charges the FA had pressed against him and banned from four games. He has 14 days to appeal.
He can still play during that time, but I suppose it depends on his frame of mind.
I'd love to see him play and put in another performance like the one he put in for Arsenal 5-3 win away to Chelsea last season.
One of my favourite sights of last season was Terry lying flat on his face as Robin van Persie raced through to score for Arsenal. Van Persie plays his trade elsewhere now but that's a different matter altogether.
I can't see Chelsea being so open in this game and Arsenal are certainly a lot tighter at the back too.
The home game for Arsenal against Chelsea was a much tighter affair last season and it ended in a scoreless draw. I can see this game being a lot closer to that one in it's outcome than the game at Chelsea.
Arsenal should have a similar team to the one which played against City last week —with no new injuries to worry about.
Thomas Vermaelen should be available again after recovering from the virus which caused him to miss last week's game. I would be surprised if he didn't return to the starting line up which will probably see Laurent Koscielny miss out.
Koscielny will be unlucky if he doesn't play, but Vermaelen is the club captain and looks certain to return.
I can't see Per Mertesacker missing out as he has played so well at the heart of the Arsenal defence this season. His reading of the game and ability to intercept the ball are second to none at the moment.
The only other possible change I can see for Arsenal could be in the central striking role.
Olivier Giroud got his first goal against Coventry on Wednesday night and he could be the man to get the nod in that role.
Gervinho played there last week against City and he had a very mixed bag of a game.
He was prepared to run, but twice he got into great goal scoring positions and made a complete mess of things.
I really don't see him as a central striker, but he did manage three goals in his previous two games. It would seem the goals are being spread out among the team already this season since the departure of Van Persie.
I can see this game being very tight and it could take a piece of magic from one player to open things up.
Santi Cazorla could be the Arsenal player with the key to unlock the Chelsea defence. He has settled into the club very quickly and he already looks like a real bargain.
Chelsea have a few players who are capable of causing Arsenal real problems, but they could find their opportunities to do so limited. Arsenal are dominating possession and out-passing every team they have played so far this season.
It's not so easy to score against a team if you don't have the ball.
It promises to be a fascinating game and I'm predicting a 2-1 win for Arsenal. It certainly won't be easy for them, but I think this team has already shown enough mental strength to rise to the challenge.
A win would take them within one point of Chelsea at the top of the table, but I imagine Manchester United will take advantage of any slip by Chelsea to take over at the top. They play Spurs in the evening kickoff and it's a game which they rarely fail to win.
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