Chelsea vs Arsenal: Reasons Why Blues Start as Favourites Despite Tough Week
It hasn't been an easy week for Chelsea FC on the football pitch. A narrow defeat at the hands of newly promoted Queens Park Rangers, followed by a lucky escape against Everton in the Carling Cup will hardly have manager Andre Villas-Boas delighted.
The Blues host Arsenal at Stamford Bridge this Saturday, and it goes without saying that the outcome of this game will have a major effect on the Premier League title race.
While the last two games have brought little to cheer about, I still believe the West-Londoners will be favourites ahead of this weekend's showdown with the Gunners.
Here are the reasons why I think Chelsea have the edge.
A Brave Second-Half Showing Against QPR
There are some days when it seems nothing is going right for you. The match at Loftus Road was just that for Chelsea.
Three key first-half decisions by Chris Foy shaped the game, all going QPR's way. The first two were questionable, to say the very least.
Nine-man Chelsea came into the second half 1-0 down, and I don't think anyone would have fancied them to get anything from the game.
The score stayed as it was in the end, but the nine players who were on the field showed real character to keep the Blues afloat in the game. In fact, they carved out a couple of really good chances to equalize. It was all Chelsea after the break, and Neil Warnock would surely have been more relieved than proud when he heard the final whistle.
Chelsea can really take heart from their performance after the interval. The old stalwarts John Terry, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Nicolas Anelka gave their utmost to get something from the visit. Also, Andre Villas-Boas must be applauded for showing tactical bravery.
If you can dominate opponents like that with only nine men, you can easily do better with all 11 on the pitch.
Everton Game Shows Team Can Get the Job Done Even When Not Playing Well
A 2-1 win over Everton at Goodison Park is a result anyone would take.
While the flamboyant football we have come to expect from Villas-Boas' team wasn't on show on Wednesday evening, the men in blue did complete the task at hand to progress to next round of the Carling Cup.
While this match wasn't of the same significance as the QPR one, the never-say-die attitude that the Portuguese gaffer has instilled in his boys was there for everyone to see.
The win, courtesy of a late Sturridge strike, will have Chelsea brimming with confidence going into the big game against Arsenal, even despite the not-so-convincing performance against the Merseysiders.
Fernando Torres Will Be Back from Suspension
Torres endured a miserable first six months at Chelsea, scoring just once in 18 games. But I don't want to go on about that; it is in the past now.
A glimpse at his stats from the last four games sure does bring a smile to my face, a sentiment I'm sure other Chelsea fans share. He has four goals in these matches, and is getting there.
His finishing, link-up play, positioning and movement against Genk were treats to the eyes. There is substantial evidence to suggest that Torres is back for good, back to give defenders hell.
He has served his suspension just as Didier Drogba begins to serve his, and is almost certain to start.
Arsenal may have Thomas Vermaelen returning, but El Nino, on his day, is unstoppable. Watch out Arsenal!
The Game Is at the Blue Fortress, Stamford Bridge
Chelsea's record at Stamford Bridge in the last seven to eight years is phenomenal.
No matter who the opposition is, the Pensioners are expected to win whenever they play at home. Arsenal don't have a great record at the Bridge, although they are one of the few teams who have registered a win here in recent years.
They will back themselves to do so again, but it will be a formidable task against a Chelsea side with a perfect home record in the league so far.
The great atmosphere at the ground could, as countless times in the past, propel the Blues to a crucial win and even a fast-improving Arsenal side may not be able to stand in the way to them securing three points.
I don't know about you, but I'd have to fancy Chelsea over Arsenal in this one, even though I may be a little biased in my judgement.