Archive for December 27th, 2009

Chelsea’s slip presents a huge opportunity

Add comment December 27th, 2009

The press pack could barely stifle their giggles.  As Arsene Wenger sat in front of the assembled hacks in the wake of a thumping 3-0 defeat to Chelsea, he steadfastly refused to concede the title:

“I do not think it’s over. I think we are fighters and we have to show that in the next game.”

Not only that, but he predicted a hiccup for the seemingly invincible Chelsea side:

“I believe at the moment they are in a very strong position, but this team, for me, they can drop points.  I’m convinced of that. That’s an impression I have.”

Since that day, Chelsea have won just one game from seven.  Remarkable though it seems, if we win our two games in hand, starting with today’s clash with Villa, we will be just one point behind a side who at one stage held an eleven point lead.  This is a campaign where none of the top sides look particularly strong.  If our threadbare squad is ever in with a chance at sneaking a Premier League trophy, this is the season.

If we are to do it, or even to come close, we need to win big games.  We did just that up at Anfield a few weeks back, and the coming month or so will test us sorely, with fixtures against all of our major competitors.  Today is an opportunity to set down a marker for the games to follow.

I’m really hoping Cesc Fabregas is fit, but with such a daunting schedule ahead of us I wouldn’t be too surprised if he weren’t risked.  We are blessed with plenty of midfield options at the moment: Denilson, Diaby, Song, Nasri and Ramsey would all have a reasonable argument for starting.  I expect Theo Walcott to begin from the bench, though he could be thrown in for just his fifth start of the season.

Villa will look to build on the defensive solidity of Dunne and Collins with rapier counter-attacks.  They’ll be both hard to break down and difficult to contain.  But win today, and the turnaround in our fortunes will be complete.  What’s more, it will have been proven once again that yes: Arsene really does ‘know’.

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