By Bulldog Drummond
In theory this should be a game of goals since we have two of the top three scorers in the Premier League on view.
Also we can be helped by the fact that the only time Chelsea have not conceded since the start of November is in the game against Tottenham.
Aubameyang has not scored in the Premier League at Arsenal Stadium since the start of November either and yet he’s still the man most likely to get us a goal or two. Indeed it would be good if any one of Pepe, Martinelli and Lacazette could find their regular scoring boots. If that happens then defences will need to give more attention to those players which then in turn gives some extra room for Aubameyang to put on the pressure. Indeed one more regular goal scorer could really make a huge difference.
HITC suggest that Dani Ceballos should be recalled for this game. Meanwhile Football.London have another of their very misleading headlines up in “Arsenal predicted line up to face Chelsea – Mikel Arteta’s decision as Calum Chambers returns”.
In fact we don’t get a line-up at all, but get told that “Hector Bellerin could return to face the Blues and is set to be assessed with only Kieran Tierney and Sead Kolasinac expected to be ruled out of playing any part in the fixture.
“Bukayo Saka filled in at left-back at Everton and Bournemouth. He could do so again in the third game of the Arteta era. After sitting out of the draw with the Cherries through suspension Calum Chambers will also be available for selection against Chelsea.”
They also tell us that some fans at the Bournemouth game wanted Lacazette sold immediately, but that is just part of their eternal negative agenda. Some, after all, can mean two – and indeed often does.
Moving rapidly on… Read Arsenal say “Holding could return”, while the Irish Examiner says the Xhaka is leaving. And the somewhat more cautious but also more reliable BBC says “Gabriel Martinelli and Hector Bellerin will be assessed, while Rob Holding and Dani Ceballos are likely absentees.”
As for the boss, he gave us this: “We need to attack better, to concede less on the counter-attack, to defend better and prepare a good training session for them to improve,” which was pretty much what we might expect him to say.
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Mind you the BBC also join in the usual negative approach to Arsenal, but at least it is factual, if not very pleasant reading….
- Arsenal could lose four consecutive home fixtures in all competitions for the first time in 60 years.
- The Gunners are also in danger of suffering three successive top-flight home defeats for the first time since February to March 1977.
- They are winless in six home matches in all competitions, their longest streak since an eight-game spell from December 1994 to February 1995.
- Arsenal have conceded at least twice at the Emirates in their past four fixtures in league and cup. They last did so in five games in December 1965.
That last one is actually not quite right because we didn’t play at the Emirates in 1965, and also a little misleading. Here is the run from 1965
|23 Oct 1965||Arsenal v Blackburn Rovers||D||2-2||Division 1|
|06 Nov 1965||Arsenal v Sheffield United||W||6-2||Division 1|
|20 Nov 1965||Arsenal v West Ham United||W||3-2||Division 1|
|04 Dec 1965||Arsenal v Aston Villa||D||3-3||Division 1|
|28 Dec 1965||Arsenal v Sheffield Wednesday||W||5-2||Division 1|
The misleading part is that in 1965, under the management of Billy Wright, we were winning at home. Indeed after the match on 28 December 1965 the league table was not too dissimilar to now… (Two points for a win of course)
|7||West Bromwich Albion||22||10||5||7||47||35||1.343||25|
We actually finished up 14th that year and Billy Wright was sacked at the end of the season as Arsenal’s home crowd dropped to 4,554 for the game against Leeds.
By today’s points system with three for a win we would have had 33 points at this stage – this season we actually have 24, coincidentally the number Wright’s team had with 2 points for a win.
So, the teams…
The Guardian has given us its version of a team…
Maitland Niles, Chambers, David Luiz, Saka
Nelson, Ozil, Aubameyang
Red London however goes with
Bellerin, Chambers, Mustafi, Saka
Xhaka, Torreira, Guendouzi
Pepe, Aubameyang, Ozil
As a third variation here is SportsMole’s idea…
Maitland-Niles, Chambers, Luiz, Saka
We’ll be there as usual, and hopefully might be made very happy after the long journey to and from.
(Historic PS: after Wright was sacked in the summer of 1966 Bertie Mee was appointed. His Arsenal in the following seasons, came 7th, 9th, 4th, 12th and then 1st. Would Mee, under today’s approach, dominated by fan and media impatience, be allowed to continue past his fourth season? I am not sure, despite the fact that the season had a European trophy.