Arsenal’s New Boys Face A Huge Chelsea Test

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    Updated: October 3, 2014
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    Short-term memory and temporary amnesia is something that most athletes need in order to succeed in professional sports. Let me explain. The worst things a manager and their team can do as a collective is to re-live past defeats and debacles on the field. For that matter, even during live games a team that makes a mistake should rally behind the player(s) who made the mistakes and push through. Never dwell; always look forward. On Sunday afternoon in West London, Arsenal is returning to Stamford Bridge where last season they suffered a Game of Thrones style Red Wedding Massacre at the hands of Chelsea FC. On Arsene Wenger’s 1000th match in Charge of Arsenal, Jose Mourinho’s side thrashed our beloved Gooners 6-0.

    It was one of my worst days ever as a Gooner. I was sick watching it, like literally ill. But no matter how that match went, Arsenal went on to lift the FA Cup, and won the pre-season Community Shield trophy. The Gooners never dwelled on the Chelsea lost and went about ending the trophy drought. For Chelsea, that 6-0 victory over Arsenal was their trophy. We had the better season and in the end we have the trophies to prove it. But this is a new season, with new storylines and new history to be written. And on Sunday, things are going to be far different from they were last season at Stamford Bridge. There are new faces and more quality in this Arsenal side that are absolute match winners. Wenger and his men need to go out and prove that Arsenal is still the biggest team in London. And they can do it.


    New Gooners, New Mentality, New Results…


    Looking back at the Arsenal starting XI against Chelsea last season, it is easy to see how Arsenal lost that game. Not only were the Gooners not a full strength because of injury, but Kieran Gibbs’ Red Card in the 28th minute put an already slim Arsenal side down to 10 men with 70 minutes to play. That Arsenal side was without Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott. Going into this Sunday’s game, Wenger is bringing some big guns with him, and these players are in great form. Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez played the game of their Gooner lives on Wednesday against Turkish opposition Galatasary at the Emirates, and if that form carries over to the weekend, Arsenal is in a great position.


    The Chilean Wonder Is Working Miracles…


    Alexis Sanchez was a man possessed on Wednesday night in the Champions League fixture against Galatasary. Sanchez was wreaking havoc all over the pitch and it was beautiful to watch. Wenger made a mistake by not having Sanchez in the first team in the North London Derby against Tottenham Spuds, but against Galatasary, he did not make that same mistake. Sanchez is so quick and technically gifted on the ball that he’s a one man wrecking crew.

    And he never seems to get tired. His work rate makes him an even deadlier adversary to opponents because in the 85th minute he’s still running full tilt as tired defenders are trying to catch their breath. Sanchez will have to be his usual disruptive self on Sunday on the wing. The more pressure he applies on Chelsea, the less pressure they’ll be able to apply on our midfield and back four. And the more Sanchez creates, the more opportunities his new teammate Welbeck will have to score. And scoring seems to be what Welbeck is enjoying a lot of right now.


    He’s Not The Next Thierry Henry, He’s The First Danny Welbeck…


    I may be in the minority here, but I have always liked Olivier Giroud. I understand Giroud can be frustrating to watch, but he was our first choice striker and always rooted for him. But his injury has opened the door to something special in our striker department. Danny Welbeck has started his Arsenal career quite well. His link up play with Mesut Ozil is starting to bear fruit as we can all see from their display against Aston Villa. And against Galatasary, his hattrick performance was honestly, Thierry Henry-esqu. I’ve been saying it since he first got on the pitch for Arsenal, Welbeck’s off ball movement and diagonal runs into the box should be studied by up and coming strikers all over the world.

    He’s patient and rarely off-sides because his anticipation is world-class. He was missing some easy chances when he first got to Arsenal but that was more of him needing to regain confidence and figure out his new teammates. Welbeck was not given the time and opportunity a young striker needs in order to develop during his years at United. After his departure from United, newmanager Louis Van Gaal said that Welbeck was allowed to transfer to Arsenal because he did not score enough goals and was below the standards required at Man U. Welbeck responded by saying, “Obviously people can say I’ve not scored enough goals, but you stick the best strikers on the wing in a four-man midfield and see if they score goals.” And he’s right.

    Welbeck was played out of position at Man U and never given enough run-ins to hit his stride. Welbeck is only 23 years old and has a massive chip on his shoulder for the way his boyhood club just dumped him off to another EPL side. It was smart business by Wenger. He managed to get a young, hungry striker who has something to prove. And the Welbeck signing is paying dividends. And Sunday against Chelsea, his darting runs and pace will keep John Terry and Gary Cahill on their toes all game long. That pace and work ethic that both Welbeck and Sanchez have will also be necessary on the other end of the pitch as well.


    Arsenal Will Have To Play Defense By Committee…


    Chelsea FC has put 13 goals past their opposition this season, and the main reason for all the Chelsea scoring is the partnership forming between Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa. Cesc was always made for the Premier League, and it seems as if Diego Costa is too. But as we saw in the game against Manchester City, this Chelsea side is not invincible. If Arsenal has one thing working in their advantage it is the work-rate of players like Sanchez, Welbeck, Ozil and Wilshere, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who all get back on defense and help defend.

    This will be especially important with Mathieu Flamini as our holding midfielder. I have been very critical of Flamini this season, and against Galatasary he did not put a foot wrong. We need Flamini to have the game of his life on Sunday in order for Arsenal to have any chance. My friend and Editor of LittleBitArsenal, @EvaMcL3, is a huge fan of Flamini, and says the Frenchman will prove all the Flamini doubters wrong on Sunday. And I hope she’s correct.

    If Flamini can slow down the Chelsea fast breaks and hold their midfield enough for the Gooners to get back on defense and create counter-attacks, then the sky is the limit.

    The less pressure there is on Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, the more our wing backs Kieran Gibbs and young Calum Chambers can help attack. The Gooners love creating the perfect goals as one cohesive unit, on Sunday, they’ll have to defend against goals just as beautifully as they create them. It’s a massive test for Arsenal on Sunday, and the world will be watching. The Gooners have the tools to beat anyone, and Sunday will be the best stage to prove it. The supporters will be in full voice all over the world and will behind the team 100%. This is going to be epic. And as always, “In Arsene we trust.”

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