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By Fab4.

Match Preview:

Arsenal play Chelsea today looking to repeat last seasons 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge that would put them right back in the title race. Defeat for The Gunners would leave them nine points adrift and with it all to do. I have a feeling we will get a result today, don’t ask me why i just see us getting at least a draw. But this is based on two things happening:

1) Diaby starts

2) Bendtner starts

Both are well over 6ft and their height and power will be vital for Arsenal today if we are to get something from the game and Arsene will know it. Diaby will have a late fitness test whereas Bendtner is lacking match sharpness. But if i was Wenger i would do all i can to get both of them on the pitch today, as he did with Vermaelen last week.

If Bendtner is adjudged to be short of match fitness, with Eduardo out injured again we will be forced to play Arshavin up top against Terry and Carvalho. Not where he wants to be and Arshavin has said as much himself. The return of Big Nik is vital to give us a bit of strength and height against the Chelsea bully-boys.

Equally important is the return of Diaby to the midfield. Again his height and power will be needed to combat Lampard and Ballack.  Arsene didn’t sound too confident of Diaby’s involvement though.

“He has a chance of being in the squad at least,” said Wenger. “We could do with him.

“But what we have to analyse is if it’s a gamble medically and whether it’s worth the risk of a setback knowing we have to play Liverpool and then the Champions League the week after.”

I don’t even want to think about Denilson starting this one, it would be even more embarrassing than against United, if that’s possible. If Diaby fails his test, stick Ramsey in. He has more ability than Denilson and is bigger and stronger.

Arsene has also been talking about the goalkeeping position recently.

“If you look across Europe you will see that goalkeeping may be the most difficult job because everything is quick,” he said.

“In England it is even harder. The difference is the goalkeeper is always in the negative publicity. If a striker misses two chances and scores two, he is a hero. If a goalkeeper has a fantastic game and makes one mistake, he is a villain.

“They are under massive pressure because of that fear to make one mistake that they know can kill their team and the game. They know it is maybe the most pressurised job in football.

“I think he [Almunia] puts a lot of pressure on his shoulders, too much.”

The main thing i took from his comments was that he seems to have lost faith in Almunia and is giving excuses to explain his recent poor form. The problem is Arsene can’t rely on his back-ups either so will have no choice but to stick with the Spanish waiter this afternoon. If reports that we made a late bid for Thomas Sorenson are true, i am relieved that we are looking to recruit a new goalkeeper. But i’m not sure what these stories will do to Almunia’s confidence. Perhaps he will raise his game to prove he is a worthy No.1. Let’s hope so.

My preferred Arsenal line-up and the one that can win the game:


Sagna          Gallas         Verminator          Clichy


Fabregas                  Diaby

Eboue/Rosicky                                                           Arshavin


If Diaby fails his test, cover your eyes for the majority of the 90mins as Denilson will get the nod. If Bendtner is only fit enough to make the bench, we will again see the shortest front-line in the Premier League – Nasri, Arshavin,  and Rosicky. I can see Wenger sticking Eboue in on the right to provide some back-up to Sagna and track Cashley Cole. Don’t forget who assisted the opening two goal’s at the Emirates, i know Arsene won’t.

The defeat last weekend to Manchester United will have knocked our confidence but it’s vital to get back on track today. Another heavy defeat to a title rival may be too much for our young squad to deal with. Let’s put in a back’s-against-the-wall performance and prove all the doubters wrong.

What’s your preferred eleven? List them below please…

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