Arsenal Best Placed to End Wenger’s Poor Record against Mourinho
Of course, Arsene Wenger does have a poor record against teams managed by José Mourinho, having failed to beat the Portuguese in 11 attempts, but there is every chance of the tides turning this weekend. Chelsea, the visitors to the Emirates stadium on Sunday, are up against an Arsenal team that is enduring their best spell of form in the last few years. Arsenal just recorded their ninth successive victory in all competitions after sealing another trip to Wembley, following last season’s FA Cup win. The bookies aren’t usually far off, with Betfair making the Gunners slight favourites at 11/8 for a win in Sunday’s Arsenal vs Chelsea odds. Chelsea are 21/10 for a win largely because of their record of just one league win at the Emirates since 2010.
Chelsea, themselves, are on a spectacular run of form that has seen them go undefeated since suffering a shock 4-2 defeat against lower league opposition Bradford City back in the last week of January. However, their form has been less than convincing in the last few matches. Since the blistering 5-0 win over Swansea, the blues have struggled to get league wins by more than a single goal margin. It’s often contributed to nervy finales, but the defence has helped them out on more than one occasion. One can expect a similar defensive performance from Chelsea on Sunday.
The resolute and stubborn defensive performance against Manchester United – in the 1-0 win last week – was heavily praised in various quarters, but the result could’ve been so different had it not been for Eden Hazard’s one moment of magic. The Belgian international is in line to win the PFA Player of the Year award, for which Alexis Sanchez is also rightly nominated. Arsenal’s job of identifying the main threat at Chelsea has been made a lot easier (you won’t find any mention of our ex-stroppy-capitano here). Either Mathieu Debuchy or the in-form Hector Bellerin have the arduous task of trying to prevent Hazard.
Olivier Giroud has not scored for the last two matches, a drought given the amazing run of form that he’s been on in 2015. The Frenchman is amongst the top scorers in the Premier League despite having missed a chunk of the campaign due to injury, with an even better goals-to-starts ratio, at 0.87 goals per start, than the league’s top scorer Sergio Aguero (0.8 goals per start). There will be inevitable comparisons with Chelsea’s leading striker, Dirty Costa, but the 2015 goal records clearly reveal the man in form.
Giroud has found the back of the net on 12 occasions this year with Costa managing just seven during this period. Admittedly, the latter has struggled with hamstring problems of late. After having missed the last two matches against QPR and Manchester United, it’s widely believed that Mourinho has Costa and Loic Remy both fit for the trip to North London. Should this be a ruse and Chelsea will be without those two strikers, then it’s likely to be our old friend Didier Drogba leading the line once again.Drogba, understandably, has lost a lot of pace at 37 years of age, but he continues to retain the warrior qualities, and a love of playing against us.
Arsenal have conceded just three goals in the last five matches with Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny will be rubbing their hands at the prospect of playing against a Drogba without pace. In the past, the Ivory Coast international has been a tormentor for Arsenal. He has an astonishing record of 15 goals in 15 matches against the gunners. The bastard.
A win on Sunday may not be enough for Arsenal’s title hopes this season but will continue the improved form against the other three of The Big Four. The Frenchman will be aware that a draw will realistically end their hopes of a title, but it would prolong Chelsea’s search for a first league title in five years.
Conversely, failure to win the league title this season will not be a huge disaster for Arsenal, having made it to the FA Cup final once again – 1/3 to win the FA Cup with the bookies.