Chelsea v Arsenal – Talking Points

first_imgLong-time rivals Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger renew hostilities on Saturday, with plenty at stake for their sides. Defending Barclays Premier League champions Chelsea, incredibly, head into the match in 17th, with Arsenal sitting fourth but going in on the back of a defeat in the Champions League. Here, Press Association Sport looks at five key talking points ahead of the match. WILL MOURINHO’S CULL CONTINUE? The ‘Special One’ has been unusually unpredictable so far this season, and a poor start to the campaign has put several regulars in the firing line. Under-performing quartet John Terry, Nemanja Matic, Diego Costa and Branislav Ivanovic were all benched against Maccabi Tel Aviv on Wednesday and on Saturday morning we should know whether they were rested for their own benefit or dropped for the team’s. WHERE FOR WALCOTT? The question of whether or not Theo Walcott can be a successful central striker for Arsenal has been lingering – mostly unanswered – for the best part of a decade. He returned to the number nine role against Stoke last weekend, scoring with arguably the toughest of several chances that came his way. Olivier Giroud returned at Dinamo Zagreb in midweek, but his careless sending-off – paired with Walcott’s goal from the bench – must leave Arsene Wenger tempted to throw his faith behind the England international. WILL PETR BETTER BEGOVIC? Petr Cech has already faced his old team-mates in the Community Shield, but his return to the ground he graced for so long should still be a big moment. Chelsea are hardly lacking for sub-plots at present, but the fact that Thibaut Courtois is out and they have Asmir Begovic in as understudy makes Cech’s appearance all the more tasty. CAN ARSENE END HIS STAMFORD BRIDGE BLUES? In the last three seasons, Arsenal’s cross-capital trip to Stamford Bridge has been a frustratingly fruitless one. The combined scoreline in those three matches is 10-1 in Chelsea’s favour, with the 2013/14 6-0 bulking the numbers. Whatever Arsene Wenger has been trying has clearly not worked and there is no use looking to his last success in October 2011 either – a 5-3 win coming courtesy of a hat-trick from the long departed Robin van Persie. WHAT’S EATING EDEN HAZARD? The Belgium playmaker has been the dash of magic in Chelsea’s forward line for the past couple of years, with Mourinho happily banging the drum for his ‘player of the year’ bid last term. Chelsea’s recent defensive problems have been well discussed, but Hazard’s slump has been just as important. A badly botched penalty in the 4-0 win over Maccabi Tel Aviv – and his refusal to even countenance taking the next spot-kick – suggest Hazard’s confidence is a serious issue. center_img Press Associationlast_img

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