Premier League – Arsenal v Chelsea Preview
Arsenal’s frustrations were clear for all to see after their surprise defeat by Wigan Athletic at the Emirates on Monday. The Gunners are still in pole position to secure third place in the Premier League, however, and with it automatic qualification for next season’s Champions League group stages, though they’ll have to be more clinical against Chelsea this weekend if they are to maintain their points advantage of the Blues, London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and surprise packages Newcastle United.
Manager Arsene Wenger may also be concerned by Robin van Persie’s recent goal drought which has seen the Dutchman only score in two of his team’s last seven Premier League games. No Arsenal player has got anywhere near his total of 27 league goals this season and the Gunners are going to struggle if he’s lost his way. Arsenal also currently have defensive problems with Per Mertesacker, Kieren Gibbs and Laurent Koscielny all battling long-term problems, while the news that Jack Wilshere will miss the remainder of the season and Euro 2012 is a blow to club and country as well as the player himself. Mikael Arteta is another who looks set for a spell on the sidelines meaning the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Yossi Benayoun, who have only had a supporting role for much of the season, must now step up to the plate. But Arsenal may have to limp over the line if they are to secure third place, though defeat by Chelsea would fray the nerves even more at the end of what is destined to be another trophy-less season at the Emirates.
Chelsea, of course, still have the consolation of an FA Cup Final to look forward, whatever their fate in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final in Barcelona. It’s been a busy seven days for the Blues’ squad but they are better equipped, and more experienced, than most to handle the pressure. Caretaker boss Roberto Di Matteo must also be congratulated on rotating his squad, though it seems that the likes of Ashley Cole, John Terry and Juan Mata are always going to play if they are fully fit. Mata has been one of the success stories at Stamford Bridge this season and, along with Frank Lampard and Daniel Sturridge, is one of three Chelsea players to have managed double figures in the scoring charts this term. With Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres both, apparently, back in form, their side look set for a strong end to the season and are going to make it very difficult for Arsenal unless recent exertions have taken their toll.
All things considered, Chelsea look far more attractive at 13/5 to take all three points than Arsenal at 21/20. The draw can be backed at 12/5. The Draw/Chelsea is 7/1 in the Half Time/Full Time Forecast and Chelsea to win and 3 or 4 total goals in the match is 13/2.