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Arsenal v Chelsea Match Preview

28/9/2012
The Barclays Premier League weekend starts with a bang this Saturday as the lunchtime kick-off sees a rejuvenated Arsenal side take on table-topping Chelsea at the Emirates with two unbeaten starts to the season at stake.

The Gunners have defied pre-season expectations that they would struggle to cope with life “post-RVP” by building on two solid if unspectacular 0-0 draws with a comfortable 2-0 win at Anfield, a 6-1 home thrashing of Southampton and creditable 1-1 draw away to Manchester City.

Chelsea, meanwhile, have started the season in imperious form, with a 0-0 draw away to Queens Park Rangers representing the only game so far in which the Blues have not taken maximum points – although they have only played clubs that are situated in the bottom half of the table so far.

As if the two teams’ respective starts to the season didn’t make calling this game hard enough, they both boast identical scoring records for the season so far with nine goals for and just two against and both sides also warmed up for the match by putting six past lower league opposition in the cup.

In terms of personnel, it looks as though the recently-fined John Terry will be available for selection, though given Arsenal’s switch to a fluid attacking formation in which the front three constantly swap positions, whether it will be wise for Chelsea boss Robert Di Matteo to start him is another matter.

One of the biggest plusses for Arsenal will be the absence of Didier Drogba – a player who physically and mentally dominated the Gunners defence during his time at Stamford Bridge – although they will need to maintain their newfound solidity at the back against Chelsea’s attacking options.

If the defence can successfully keep the likes of Eden Hazard, Fernando Torres and Oscar quiet, this should provide the foundation for Arsenal’s new midfield maestro Santi Cazorla to start dictating the flow of the game and Chelsea will have to work incredibly hard to deny the Spaniard space and time.

With so much at stake and so many compelling battles taking place all over the pitch, the game promises to be a must-watch encounter and should provide the perfect start to a busy Premier League weekend in which Manchester United also take on Tottenham and Fulham play Man City.
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