Oct 4th, 2014 by 'holic
My Hornbyesque upbringing in the Thames Valley means Chelsea versus Arsenal was always a much-anticipated fixture. Cheap train travel and cheap admission on the day meant schoolboys could afford the day on pocket money, and join in the great adventures that an ‘away’ game provided. My first was in 1969. Tomorrow’s combined match ticket and coach/train travel far exceed what would be considered pocket money today.
So many have advised I am in for a bad day, and there is no denying that Chelsea have made a very fast start to their Premiership campaign. Only Manchester City, at home, have taken a point against them. On the road Chelsea have beaten Burnley and Everton, whilst at this weekend’s venue they have seen off Leicester (2-0), Swansea (4-2), and Aston Villa (3-0). They have strengthened shrewdly, including Cesc Fabregas of course, but most significant would appear to be the purchase of Diego Costa who already has eight goals to his credit.
You cannot escape mention of last season’s horror story for us, a six goal drubbing on what should have been a happier day for the boss, celebrating a thousand matches in charge of the Arsenal. Our performances away from home against our main rivals have for too long now been a cause for concern. This is an opportunity to show that we have addressed that. Once a fixture we approached with relish, we have now won just twice at the Bridge in the last decade. I get it. We are underdogs.
I also get we were underdogs the last time we won there on a day when the lasting image will be of John Terry chewing the cud as we clinched a remarkable 3-5 triumph three years ago. The team news remains a worry. Only Nacho Monreal is likely to return to the squad that saw off Galatasaray in midweek. Should there be any change to the eleven that started that fixture? Having Santi Cazorla in a deeper central role seemed to work on Tuesday and the attacking trio of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mesut Ozil, and Alexis Sanchez provided the bullets for Danny Welbeck to fire.
Obviously Chelsea on their own patch are far more formidable than the Turks, and we will have to be far more alert defensively to the sort of counter-attacking game that the loathesome Mourinho so likes to play against us. Having the Ox and Alexis on the flanks provides hard-working cover to full backs who will be sorely tested. If they can do that well, and we can fashion opportunities for Danny at the other end then that is the recipe for pulling off the unexpected, or at least securing the point that will keep the gap between us and the leaders to six points.
As for the ‘holic pound, I was hoping for better than 9/2 for an away win. That looks a little short to me. I’m going instead for what does look super value. Two bookies offer Laurent Koscielny to score anytime at 20/1. I’m on the big man to strike from a set piece.
Engineering works make for an awful journey by taxi, replacement bus, train, and tube. I’m hoping against hope, it would seem, that all will be worthwhile when we depart West London with something from the match. Let’s hope it isn’t just a hangover.