Written by Mean Lean on Friday, 28 September 2012 20:31
At the start of the season, I glanced at the fixture list and I am pretty sure that I let out one big gulp. Stoke City away, Liverpool away, Manchester City away and Chelsea at home all within the first six matches of the season, you gotta be thinking 'Are they taking the pee?'
How on earth were we supposed to reshape a new team with new players on top of a new assistant coach and be ready for what could well be the most difficult start to a season on paper for many years. Well, as starts go; this hasn't been too bad has it? Unbeaten and improving.
When you give at the very least as good as you get at the home of last season's champions then you have every reason to be optimistic about our chances for the next game. From one financially doped club to another. Chelsea FC who have the points on the board but perhaps have shown an air of vulnerability are next on our fixture list this afternoon and I am sure the players will be confident that a result is very much a possibility.
It doesn't seem like that long ago where we couldn't win these matches, we would get caught by sucker punch after sucker punch against those above us, but this is a different Arsenal team. It may seem a little early to judge but it looks as if we have a squad of experienced players who are good enough to stand toe to toe against the leagues best.
London Colny feels a little like a tube journey from Oxford Circus to Finsbury park in the middle of rush hour such is the abundance of players we have actually on the pitch rather than being shared by our treatment facilities. It feels a little weird to be honest, that said I certainly do not take that for granted, we know how playing two games every three days can quickly change that.
I am hugely intrigued to know how today's opposition will approach the game. Last season they drove by in their blue bus and parked it pretty well. They played on the counter attack and frustrated us. Chelsea this year have been molded in a more adventurous way so their manager has a choice on his hands. Does Di Matteo place the likes of Oscar on the bench and select a more defensive minded player, playing a similar way to last season. They then have the option of Moses, Oscar and other attacking threats from the bench if need be. Or does the manager play Oscar, Hazard and Mata, attempting to impose their attacking game on us? You would think that a manager with a squad worth so much money in transfer fees and wages would be more than willing to do so but I cannot see that happening. Chelsea playing an open game against us and trying to out pass us could be suicidal. I suspect that we will see a more conservative Chelsea team even if that means not starting with certain match winners.
Both teams are unbeaten so far and certainly would give either side a massive boost if they were to win the game. There is a lot of quality on both benches so I wouldn't be at all surprised if that was to play some part in the result.
Arsene only has a few choices to make when it comes to his starting eleven. It could be said that many of the league cup players have given Arsene food for thought and perhaps that is the case further down the line but I would think that those who played 90 minutes are highly unlikely to start today. It was no surprise that Chamberlain, Coquelin and Giroud did not last the full 90 minutes. I suspect that those three will start on the bench.
With captain Vermaelen back in the squad, Arsene will have to decide which two from three (four to make Djourou feel a little better) will start at center back. Arsene has said that he will rotate his center backs depending on the opposition. Mertesacker has played all the big'uns so far and had his best game of the season so far at Manchester City but I feel that this would be a pretty good time to rest the big f-ing German. Chelsea are not particularly a big side and they have many nimble quick players in their squad so Vermaelen and Koscielny could well be reunited again for the first time this season.
I would imagine that Ramsey will start on the right after his absolutely wonderful display last weekend. If Ramsey can produce a similar performance then you would imagine that his spot would be his to lose. I expect Gervinho to continue playing as a free roaming striker, the rest of the team will be the players who have performed so well this season.
Mean Lean's Predicted Line Up:
It should make for a very interesting game of football. While I am confident about the players continuing their good form, I am starting to feel a little bit uneasy by the amount of people expecting us to come out on top, I have too many bad memories of that back firing but as I said, this is a different Arsenal so more of the same.
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