Has there ever been a more detestable club in the history of the game? there have been a few worthy contenders for sure, such as Tottenham because they are Tottenham. Our rivalry goes back many years but if I was a neutral there wouldn't be much to dislike. In fact their delusion and failure brings joy to the world. Tony Pulis' Stoke City were another horrible little club to be fair, as of course were/are Manchester United, particularly the Ferguson/van Nistelrooy team but as much as we hated each other, at least there was respect between the two clubs.
Chelsea FC now, well they are something else. At least they are to me. A club that have John Terry as captain, a man found guilty of a racism (as Tim from 7am Kick off would say)
And of course there is Jose Mourinho, the most arrogant; self important; crass and hypocritical man in the game today. All the talk is of Wenger's record against Mourinho and yes I would say that Arsene will need to look inwards to a point. We have more often than not fallen straight into his trap of being sucked in and then counter attacked after leaving ourselves exposed. A more pragmatic approach may have been more desirable on many occasions but let's not pretend that his team were playing against the invincibles twice a season. Mourinho came to Chelsea in 2005, a year that coincided with Arsenal chopping off our aging high earners and replacing them with cheap young players as the Emirates era began. Meanwhile Mourinho was regularly breaking transfer records, often overpaying to get the exact players he wanted. Even buying players just to prevent them from joining a rival.
Not many would label Arsene Wenger as a tactical genius yet a team such as West Ham have not beaten Arsenal/Arsene Wenger in 14 matches. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a larger difference in spend between Chelsea and Arsenal (prior to 2014) compared to Arsenal and West Ham.
Which is a long way of saying that I'm not as impressed of this record as so many others are.
Now that the financial gap has closed at the top since 2014, we have beaten Manchester City and Manchester United (in the FA Cup) so beating Chelsea is certainly a monkey that needs removing.
I want nothing more than Arsenal spanking Chelsea good and proper, it is about time but I just can't help but feel we are a few weeks too late. I hope that is not the case but performances at Burnley and then again at Wembley against Reading were performances not at the level of our 4-1 demolition of Liverpool.
The other big factor is that Chelsea do not need to win the game and they are the masters of ruining a game. Mourinho studies the opposition's patterns of play and throws spanners all over the pitch blocking any paths to goal so we are unlikely to create a great deal today.
In so many big games away from home against form sides, I've wondered how Chelsea would stop the likes of Manchester City early on this season, Liverpool at the end of last season and so many other examples yet they manage to do so.
For Arsenal to win this game, we will need to find a way through, once we do we cannot take 3-4 chances to score a goal like we have done for many weeks and then we will need to be good enough to stop Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa amongst others.
Given that we cannot win the league at this stage, I don't think I'd be too upset with a draw after Manchester United's defeat last weekend, I just don't want us to lose to the likes of Cesc Fabregas who it seems had Chelsea down as his first choice exit strategy from Barcelona.
But like almost every Arsenal player who leaves our famous club, I couldn't care less about that player once they put on another shirt. I enjoyed his time at Arsenal but like so many that is consigned to history now. I couldn't care less what reception he gets as I only concern myself with the squad we have today.
Per Mertesacker is likely to miss out after picking up an injury against Reading last weekend so Gabriel is likely to come into the starting 11. His additional pace could be useful against the floating Hazard and Costa. Other than Ox and Arteta aside, we are at full strength so I'd imagine that the Ramsey, Cazorla and Welbeck choices still remain.
Nacho Monreal is likely to come back in for Gibbs and Oliver Giroud will more than likely start as centre forward.
Mean Lean's Predicted Line Up:
I expect Arsene to go with the experience of Mathieu Debuchy against Eden Hazard rather than Hector Bellerin. I think Arsene will also stick with Aaron Ramsey wide on the right in an attempt to compete with Chelsea as long as possible. We can then try and win the game later on with an attacking change rather than risk chasing the game.
I may not be able to predict the line up or score but I tell you what I can predict. Chelsea will be fouling us to stop the flow of our game. Remember the game at Stamford Bridge earlier this season, for some reason the referee thought it was ok for them to foul us with impunity without being carded. Not entirely sure why that was, I just hope the referee today will play by the rules and stop them from doing that.
I'd love us to spank Chelsea the way Tottenham did earlier this season. I'd do unspeakable things to guarantee that happening but I see another bus parking exercise this afternoon.
I would love a Mesut Özil masterclass today with the German combining with Alexis for the winner.
In fact anything that results in 3 points to Arsenal would be great. Post match stuff later.