It’s weird to be playing Chelsea in the Premier League again so soon after meeting them at the Emirates in the same competition.
Just over three weeks ago we were beaten 1-2 at home by Frank Lampard’s side. Many of us felt it was an unlucky defeat because we played well enough for long parts of the game to deserve the win.
But in giving up two goals in the last 10 minutes we also showed that old (bad) habits die hard – a fact that was in evidence again on Saturday against Sheffield United.
So how will it go in Round Two at Stamford Bridge tonight?
Chelsea’s form has been patchy to say the least and some of the shine has rubbed off of Frank Lampard’s early lustre.
Immediately before beating us in late December they lost 0-2 at home to Southampton. Since playing us they have drawn at Brighton, beaten Burnley at home and lost at Newcastle.
In other words, right now they look pretty similar to us (in fact, a bit worse as far as results go).
I’m feeling optimistic about us bringing home all three points. I recognise this sounds bonkers given the circumstances: we’re still without the suspended Aubameyang, our defenders are picking up injuries as fast as Spuds fans pick up fleas and we’re finding goals very hard to come by.
But I think our players learnt from the last meeting with the Chavs that we can outplay them if we want to; and that if we had applied ourselves a bit harder for a bit longer we would have got the three points that Auba’s first half strike deserved.
Aside from the long-term sick bed squatters we’re also without Reiss Nelson. Sokratis was suffering from “sickness” for the Sheffield match (it’s rumoured he took a wrong turn and ended up in N17 and caught something nasty from the odious miasma), but there’s a good chance he’ll be fit tonight.
This is the team I would go with and also the team I think Arteta will pick:
Maitland-Niles – Luiz – Sokratis – Saka
Torreira – Xhaka
Pepe – Lacazette – Martinelli
If Sok is still sick it will be Mustafi instead, to hopefully continue his decent work from Saturday.
We should win – goals from Pepe and Martinelli would be my guess.
My only doubt about us getting the victory is the possibility of a situation like this: one of our players is clean through on goal and the Chelsea bench responds by setting a pack of wolverines and honey badgers on him, quickly bringing him down and devouring the corpse. VAR will say “no penalty.”
Meanwhile at the other end a brisk breeze will ruffle the shirt of Tammy Abraham and the ref will point to the spot (supported by VAR) and send off the entire Arsenal defence for “looking at me a bit funny.”
Barring that, it will be Chelsea with the blues and the Arsenal feeling chipper.
Come on the Mighty Arse!