A match-up to make fans and neutrals alike salivate, both sides will be desperate for a win here. Arsenal will want a repeat of their Community Shield victory and Mourinho will be hoping to get back to winning ways in the league. The two suffered contrasting fates in Europe mid-week, the Blues defeating Maccabi Tel Aviv and Arsenal losing to Dinamo Zagreb. Visiting Stamford Bridge is rarely a picnic for any team—doubly so with Chelsea trying to find that elusive form. Derbies are always unpredictable and FLIP Sports is hoping for a great display!
The Arsenal man turned 30 years old last week and it is testament to his development that he is now one of the finest defenders in the league. It wasn’t so long ago that he was paired with Johan Djourou and looking lightweight—it is easy to forget that when you watch him nowadays. He will be tasked with shackling Diego Costa, and on current form you’d think the Frenchman would come off the victor. Since the shock loss to West Ham on the opening day, the Gunners have conceded just once and are unbeaten in the league. Koscielny has played his part in that, and Chelsea will have a tough time scoring if he is on his game this Saturday.
Mourinho is clearly running out of patience with some members of his squad, and Willian took full advantage of his opportunity mid-week by scoring from a free kick and generally putting in a good performance. Considering he had a reputation as a playmaker before joining the Blues, Willian is usually hailed for his lung-busting running, making himself available and diligently tracking back. If he gets a start against the Gunners he will have deserved it, but he will need to be at his best to break through a confident defence—and he will need to be active defensively himself if Chelsea are going to stop conceding so many goals.
Despite complaining for many years that his best position is as a striker, Walcott has rarely shown he can be trusted in the big games playing up front. However, with Giroud being red carded mid-week (and not impressing) the former Southampton man should start in his favoured spot. His pace and finishing will be terrifying to a shaky Chelsea back-line, and with question marks over John Terry and Gary Cahill, Walcott should add to his one goal so far this season.
This week’s honourable mention goes to Petr Cech, in goal against his former team for the first time in the league. After a shaky start he has shaken off the cobwebs and is looking the real deal between the sticks. With Thibaut Courtois injured, Mourinho will be wishing he’d held onto his former star.