Chelsea are in the Champions League final, are playing brilliant football under new coach Thomas Tuchel, are sitting fourth in the EPL and spent £220m in transfer fees this season.
So it seems obvious that it will be an Arsenal win tonight.
Sometimes you just feel it in your bones that your team will win and this is one of those occasions. If I’m wrong, don’t have a go at me, have a go at my ageing skeletal structure.
Most significantly, I feel a win will be a statement of intent from Mikel Arteta, who has come under a huge amount of mostly-justifiable criticism since we limped out of the Europa League with a pair of tepid displays.
There’s no doubt he has made many mistakes in his first full season as a manager but there is a lot of “glass half empty-ism” in most analyses of our campaign.
These analyses tend to overlook the scale of the challenge he had to contend with. In the first half of the season a huge amount of his emotional energy must have been taken up with making sure that a trouble-making clique of senior players was moved out. Anyone who has managed teams of people will tell you how much damage can be done by a small group of malcontents.
Arteta also inherited a woeful defence from Unai Emery. Do you remember all those games when even lowly teams were clocking up 25 or more attempts on goal?
This season we have conceded fewer goals than any of the EPL teams apart from the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea. And when you consider how many of those goals have been gifts to the opposition in the form of unforced errors, our record could be even better.
Obviously our problem has been at the pointy end, where we have not been making enough chances and scoring enough goals. But when Arteta was appointed how many of us said “fix the defence first and then we can build on that”? Well, he has done exactly that and now we must give him time to do the second part.
Yes, we need to offload some more underperforming players in the summer and bring in some upgrades, but we are not starting from as insecure a base as it can sometimes feel. It’s time to get behind the manager, back the team and start spreading a few more positive vibes around N5.
As for tonight’s game, Chelsea are clear favourites and they have every incentive to go for the win given that Champions League is not yet assured for them via Premier League position. But we have players who are good enough to take the game to the Chavs and beat them on their own turf, and I fancy we will do so.
I have not seen an update on injuries, so it’s possible Xhaka and Luiz will still be unavailable. On that basis here’s the winning team I expect to see tonight:
Chambers – Holding – Gabriel – Tierney
Partey – Elneny
Saka – Smith Rowe – Aubameyang
If Xhaka is fit he will start instead of Elneny. And if Smith Rowe, the Beast of Thornton Heath, is unavailable after feeling some muscle pain in the Newcastle game then, hopefully, Odegaard is fit and will play instead.
This is a chance for Arteta and Arsenal to answer their critics and show that the fires of passion and glory are still burning deep inside the Arsenal heart. A chance to make a statement about NEXT season.
Come On You Gunners!