Injuries have defined Arsenal’s season, today’s game at Wembley sees us with a defensive line-up which is scraping the bottom of the barrel. The likely players are Silvestre, Song, Toure, Eboue, with Fabianski in goal. This in itself isn’t awful – all are good defenders – and Silvestre, Toure and Eboue have a combined wealth of experience. Sagna may recover for the game – but at the time of writing he is still ill, while Gibbs hurt his hamstring against Villarreal, in any case the back line will not be full strength.
The problem for me is that this season none of the above are first choice, excepting Toure (and even he has been dropped at times this season). Instability in selection breeds problems and the biggest challenge we face against Chelsea is going to be at the back.
I am quietly confident about the game though, Chelsea have been leaking goals recently – in their last 2 games they have conceded 7 – and we are scoring freely at the moment with Arshavin, Walcott, Van Persie and Adebayor all in form. We can outplay them if we fight like we showed against Villarreal.
If, however, Arsenal don’t impose themselves on the game we may see another performance like the first half at Wigan. We need score and take the game to Chelsea.
Personally this will be my first visit to the new Wembley and it will be exciting to see Arsenal play in a national stadium again. Wenger has his concerns about the quality of the playing surface, it is rumoured that it isn’t up to scratch – but at least we are playing first – Man Utd face Everton on Sunday at Wembley giving the pitch just 24 hrs to recover.
To be a successful club you have to beat the best, I’m desparate to see Arsenal prove themselves this season. So much criticism has been levelled at Arsene Wenger and the players, a trophy is the only way to show that we are still a force, winning this game will take us a step closer to that end.
Under Guus Hiddink Chelsea have transformed and they will be threatening – I’m worried about Lampard’s goals from midfield – we are going to have to be on top form to get the right result.