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Arsenal vs Chelsea: Blues need big hitters in bid to save season

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Chelsea make the short trip to across London today hoping their star players are on board to help the Blues rescue a season in crisis.

Today’s game against rivals Arsenal in North London could prove to be a crucial encounter for Chelsea and coach Carlo Ancelotti will hope to select his strongest starting XI following Frank Lamprd’s recent return to first team action.  The England midfielder made a substitute appearance in Chelsea’s last outing – the 1-1 draw at Tottenham- but has not started a game since the 2-0 home win against Stoke City back in August.  Whilst initially looking unaffected by his absence, the Pensioners endured a torrid time following their 2-0 defeat at Liverpool in early November and since that game they have won just once in the Premier League (a 1-0 home win against Fulham).

The West London outfit are in despearte need of a win, not only to keep themselves within sight of a incresingly dwindling Premier League trophy, but to give the team confidence after a miserable period that coincided with the dismissal of assistant coach and club Mr Poular, Ray Wilkins.  The fact that the reason behind Wilkin’s dismisal has remained a relative mystery, has only saught to worsen the club’s plight.  Player’s who were rightly upset and angered by the club’s decision to show him the door began to demonstrate poor form and as a result the whole team; no, the entire club looked short of confidence, and short of ideas.

But we are, in our calendar year, approaching a time of change and new beginnings and there is one simple solution in football for forgetting those bleak times: winning.  And Chelsea have the ideal opportunity to claim a victory that could potentially save their season; a season that began with so much promise.  Ancelotti believes the task has been made that much easier with the return to fitness of key players:

“The important thing is that the players are fit and ready to play” said the Chelsea boss.

“Lampard will be excited to play after such a long time out and I think he can give such fantastic support to us with his performances.”

The Italian then spoke about his team being in a much better state after a morbid month of injuries and poor results:

“But now its different.  The squad is good because we have a lot of players in good condition, we have players without injury and the squad has enough in this moment to play this game well and at out best”

And at their best is precisely what Chelsea must be.  Not merely becasue of the nature of their opponents Arsenal, but because after such a miserable autumn the entire club needs something to cheer about.  And it is the return of key players like Lampard that must provide this cheer- especially if the club are serious about retaining their Premier League crown.  Ashley Cole, a regular attendant this season has also highlighted the importance of getting back to winning ways sooner rather than later:

“We need to get back on track and winning games if we are going to win the league,” said the England full back.

“We just have to think about us and play as well as we know we can. We are the double holders so we have to start playing like that, because at the moment we are not.”

Winning games in the Premier Leage however does not come easy and this seems to be much more this case this year round, an opinion shared by Cole:

“I said at the start of the season that I thought this season was going to be the hardest and toughest of all because teams are beating everyone.

“You think you are top one week and then you lose against a so-called lower team.”

Whether it’s a top team or a ‘lower’ team Chelsea face should make no difference, especially in these desperate times.  A win is a win, and it’s amazing how desperately managers revel in this philosophy when things aren’t quite going right.  If Chelsea need to win ugly to get their season up and running again, then so be it.  But you can be sure that Arsenal will not make it easy for them, even if the Blues have enjoyed much success at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal currently sit two places and one point above the Blues (before Sunday’s fixtures) and have been in good form themselves despite a 1-0 loss at Old Trafford last week.  Although like their West London neighbours, Arsenal’s title credentials have been questioned publicly.  Man United’s Nani spoke out about how he does not think Arsene Wenger’s side have the muscle to win a title.

With clouds of doubt cast over both sides, this fixture stages the perfect opportunity for either side to make a stern statement proving otherwise.  With Chelsea’s starring cast of big hitters to select, Ancelotti may be the more confident of under pressure managers going into this game, especially with a fully fit Didier Drogba, a man who haunts Arsenal at every occasion.  The striker has enjoyed 13 goals in 11 games against the Gunners and with the service of a returning Lampard, the Blues might just have the ingredients to cook up a delightful festive cracker.

Possible Line Ups

Arsenal: Fabianski, Sagna, Koscielny, Squillaci, Clichy, Diaby, Nasri, Song, Fabregas, Arshavin, Chamakh

Chelsea: Cech, Cole, Terry, Ivanovich, Bosingwa, Lampard, Essien, Mikel, Malouda, Anelka, Drogba

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