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PL, Chelsea vs Arsenal, 30/11/08, 1600 GMT


loz

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Despite being top of the table our form in the past month has hardly been stunning however Arsenal's has been even worse and they are currently outside the top four and 10 points off the pace.

We can point to having a number of first team players unavailable however so can Arsenal so that sort of evens things out. What they don't tend to have is the mentality and players to hound us which is something we appear to be incapable of dealing with.

The results against Liverpool, Man Utd, Roma and Bordeaux make this a massive game for Scolari (as if it wasn't big enough already).

We will probably see Deco return to the first eleven at Ballack's expense but other than that I don't think we will see too many changes from the team that struggled against Bordeaux.

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I'm very nervous to say the least.

A nice early goal for us along with several beers should help calm me down.

Midfield battle is gonna be key. Fabregas and Nasri are tricky little playmakers to contain. Cesc is of course the one to stop. the battle of lampard and cesc will be key!

Thank god Theo is out. i dont think ash would have being looking forward to him running at him all day.

Tricky, tricky game. 3-1 chelsea with a late one to seal it!

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A nice early goal for us along with several beers should help calm me down.

I don't hope an early goal will kill us off but I fear the worst. Hopefully Cech will be able to repeat his superb display against Bordeaux. It'll be needed. And hopefully we'll get to see OUR REAL JT!!!! And not that player we saw yesterday ...

Midfield battle is gonna be key. Fabregas and Nasri are tricky little playmakers to contain. Cesc is of course the one to stop. the battle of lampard and cesc will be key!

Oh dear, oh dear. The last battles frank vs. cesc ended most furiously. This little cheater ... I've still kept my newspaper printout with the Frank vs. Cesc photo.

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I hate games against Arsenal and do respect Wengers attitude in commiting to play good football even though it has cost them over the last few years.

I do think it's not just that commitment that is costing them I think it is more they need to add two or three experienced decent players and either Wenger is too stubburn or the board don't give him the backing their fans like to think they do.

Gallas I thought would be one of those and the annoying thing is he likely will play to his ability against us, I feel if they had have brought in a couple more respected experienced players Gallas may have behaved better for them,

I was looking forward to this game wondering how we would perform against a team that can defend ok and attack well to use as some sort of benchmark on how I imagined the rest of the season would go...

a bit late as we got that against Bordeaux, they attacked ok and defended ok and if that was a benchmark and not another blip then I fear for this one.

I wonder if this is a game where Scolari could try Drogba and Anelka together, second half of the last meeting it done the trick. EDIT: doh even more unlikely due to his suspension.

still, glass half full so again I will say top of the league and managing a nervous grin..hope it's the same story this time Sunday.

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Midfield battle is gonna be key. Fabregas and Nasri are tricky little playmakers to contain. Cesc is of course the one to stop. the battle of lampard and cesc will be key!

Agree that midfield battle is key, but for me arse midfield is too lightweight and we'll out muscle them.

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2 teams in 'crisis', whoever is more desperate will come out on top. I agree Arsenal doesnt have the physical presence in midfield, but they did put Man United away quite easily, something we couldnt do. I would real confident if we had Drogba and Essien, with the likely midfield or Mikel, Lampard and Deco, I cant see we really out muscle them. :huh: Gallas doesn't have the physical strength, but he may have enough speed to contain Anelka. If we have a fit Drogba, or even a Di Santos, that would be a different story. I think Arsenal will play 451 for this one, it could be Newcastle or Spurs all over again. Unfortunately the team pick itself at moment, just to show the decline in quality of our team. Personally I believe Ballack should play instead of Deco, we need more muscle in the midfield, and Deco hasn been sloppy for a while now.

Anything less than a win will see us drop to the second position comes Tuesday morning, and there wil be a few teams dying to play us at the Bridge.

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I'd hardly call us a team in crisis , yes we were sh*t v Bordeaux but our league form is good apart from the Pool game and failing to beat Newcastle. This game will go either way because both teams have quality and its not Sunderland were playing. Its important we settle early , good passing create chances and try limit their posession in midfield. I feel we have goals in us Sunday the way their defensive record is and an early goal will be most welcome.

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I know that recently we have had the upper hand over Arsenal, but the Ranieri years were not that long ago and we always lost to them then; therefore, games against le arse always worry me. They will attack us, and I really hope in order to be stronger in the midfield we see ballack and lampard play.

If that is the case I expect us to play the same team that started against Bordeaux, the one exception being deco in for ballack

Scott

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this should be a good open game

arsenal wont stick 10 men behind the ball, and rough us up like bordeaux did in the week and the geordies did last weekend

which should make for a flowing game of football

i reckon we will score a couple and the gooners will nick one late on

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First goal is crucial. If we can get on top their heads will go down. Normally, I'd expect us to keep it tight to start and ramp up the pressure as the game goes on. Not sure what to expect under LFS.

In the matches against Man U and Liverpool we have started poorly and conceded early and it has been difficult to get back in to those games.

I'd like to see us use the formation we had against Pompey in the first game of the season. Ballack playing in midfield and Deco playing further forward, preferably with Joe if he isn't injured.

This is a really big game for Scolari. Even if we win we will only have picked up 4 points against our nearest rivals at home. People talk about our excellent away form but we still have to go to Old Trafford, Anfield and the Emirates as well as Villa Park.

Team:

---------------------------Cech

Bosingwa-------Ivanovic--------JT----------Cole

------------------------Mikel

---------Ballack-------------------Lampard

-Cole-------------------------------------Deco

-------------------Anelka

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This is a must win not just because of the points but the morale as well. Not to mention our poor performances at the Bridge. There is much in stake here.

I would feel lot more comfortable if Drogba would lead our attack. Anelka has been toothless in these big battles this season.

Without Drogba I predict the scoreline to be 2-2 (Lampardx2, VanPersie, Gallas)

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I'd hardly call us a team in crisis , yes we were sh*t v Bordeaux but our league form is good apart from the Pool game and failing to beat Newcastle. This game will go either way because both teams have quality and its not Sunderland were playing. Its important we settle early , good passing create chances and try limit their posession in midfield. I feel we have goals in us Sunday the way their defensive record is and an early goal will be most welcome.

Our league AWAY record is good, home not so much, strangely.

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I think it will be a tough game. Arsenal will park the bus for a lengthy period of the game and try and hit us on the counter, something they can do successfully with the likes of Nasri and Fabregas. What we need to do is score early. Score 1 or 2 early and then play our normal game. Change our style of play possibly because Arsenal will be expecting some passing, fluid football, but if we suddenly change it to Route 1 tactics (even though Anelka can't win a header to save his life) and then let Ballack/Lampard/Deco pick up on the loose balls. Oh, and we have to win every second ball that comes out of the area! I noticed we barely won any second ball against Bordeaux and they went forward and attackedus from that second ball. Get Mikel and A.Cole or Boringwa to stand 25-30 yards from goal and aim for the second ball!

Team unfortunately picks itself, but like Ethical, hoping to go for the same formation as against Pompey now we have Ballack back.

Cech

Bosingwa, Ivanovic, JT, A.Cole

Mikel

Lampard, Ballack

Deco

Joey, Anelka

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I've got a bad feeling about this one. Not only have we been crap in quite a few games recently but this is sort of a Liverpool flashback.

When we faced the scousers they had some problems with injuries and wasn't playing at their best. The same with Arsenal now.

I can easily see us having a nightmare of a game again and lose or perhaps getting a draw. Since Scolari came we haven't really been great against big teams, no matter how bad they are playing at the time. While they rise to the occasion, we crumble. -_-

Sorry for sounding so negative. I do hope we win this after all :)

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I quite like the idea of Deco on the wing, actually. We should give him a shot.

I'm worried about this game. While the rest of the teams in the Premiership are going to see us as in quite magnificent form, sitting pretty at the top of the league and scoring for fun (at least against the smaller teams), and Arsenal wounded, this is the kind of game (like against Man Ure) where Arsenal come back and show themselves. Very very worried :)

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I quite like the idea of Deco on the wing, actually. We should give him a shot.

I like the idea too. As a matter of fact, he has scored every time he played on the flanks for us (as far as I know)!

So, no need to bring Kalou in, instead the quality of Michael Ballack can give Almunia some hard time.

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TEAM NEWS: CHELSEA V ARSENAL

Posted on: Sun 30 Nov 2008

Deco returns to the side following his European suspension but Joe Cole is out with an ankle injury.

Branislav Ivanovic continues to be preferred to Alex as John Terry's partner and Salomon Kalou is given a start out wide with Florent Malouda dropped to the bench.

For Arsenal, William Gallas plays, his central defensive partner John Djourou. Bacary Sagna is fit to resume right-back duties and Emmanuel Adebayor is back up front with Nicklas Bendtner making way.

Chelsea will line-up in a 4-1-4-1 formation as follows:

1 Petr Cech

17 José Bosingwa

2 Branislav Ivanovic

26 John Terry ©

3 Ashley Cole

12 John Mikel Obi

21 Salomon Kalou

13 Michael Ballack

8 Frank Lampard

20 Deco

39 Nicolas Anelka

Substitutes: 40 Hilario, 19 Paulo Ferreira, 33 Alex, 18 Wayne Bridge, 27 Mineiro, 43 Miroslav Stoch, 15 Florent Malouda.

Arsenal are expected to line-up in the following 4-4-2 formation:

Almunia ©; Sagna, Djourou, Gallas, Clichy; Denilson, Fabregas ©, Song, Nasri; Van Persie, Adebayor.

Subs: Fabianski, Gibbs, Silvestre, Ramsey, Wilshere, Vela, Bendtner.

The referee is Mike Dean.

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