In advance of Saturday's London derby mega-clash against Chelsea, we put together a list of questions for Graham over at We Ain't Got No History (and SBN Soccer) about Arsenal's big blue neighbors. Many thanks to Graham for taking the time to answer our missive from the ether. Take a ride below the jump to see Mr. MacAree's thoughts*.
*Note: this is merely a representative sample of Graham's thoughts, not an exhaustive cataloging of them. He does think about other things.
1) (From Thomas): What are your thoughts about Drogba and Torres? Do you have as much distaste for Torres as I do for Jason Bay? Should he be starting ahead of Drogba? Should they be playing together? And what's Drogba's future at Chelsea, in the short and long-term?
I am fond of both Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres, although I was a critic of the Torres transfer last January. They're both good strikers, and pretending otherwise is silly, but obviously Torres has been something of a disappointment since he joined the club and Drogba's hit a rough patch as well. I don't have any particular problem with either. Yes, Torres should be starting over Drogba, and no, they probably should be playing together - when Drogba plays Chelsea need to play a system that doesn't favour Torres, and vice versa. For the future, Drogba will surely have to go at some point, but one suspects that losing him at the end of his contract would be a touch premature.
2) (From PDB): I would be interested to hear a bit more about the future physical location of the club - I know the club has a desire to move since they can't really expand Stamford Bridge, but will they stay in the same general area, or will they be a late bidder for the Olympic Stadium or some other site? (And given the news from this morning, what do you think will happen next with the stadium plans?--Ted)
I'd be shocked if Chelsea moved outside of Southwest London - there'd be a riot if they left Stamford Bridge to move into the Olympic Stadium, for example. The Blues have identified three reasonable sites in close proximity to their current location, and I'd guess that Earl's Court or Battersea will be their eventual home. There's rumour of Wembley, Twickenham, etc, but I can't imagine that that's anything but nonsense. Chelsea, of course, cannot move without the approval of the Chelsea Pitch Owners (CPO) who hold the right to the stadium grounds and can actually force the club to change its name should it move. On Thursday, the CPO voted 61-39 in favour of allowing Chelsea to buy back the freehold, which actually falls short of the required 75% approval rate. There's some question as to what happens next - my guess is that the club simply changes the terms of its proposal and tries again.
3) Would you be happy if Branislav Ivanović was first-choice right back always for Chelsea? I sort of <3 him.
Well, the answer is that it depends. Ivanovic is an excellent defender, but he's not exactly a world-class attacking force, and it's not sure he ever will be. Having your spare centre half starting at right back also slightly limits roster flexibility, forcing Chelsea to invest too much money in a very good fourth-choice central defender (Alex). I'd prefer Ivanovic over Jose Bosingwa in general, because Bosingwa can't defend (Arsenal should target him fairly mercilessly with long balls to Gervinho, I think), but he's hardly ideal.
4) How do you feel about André Villas-Boas so far? What do you like or dislike about him in comparison with Carlo Ancelotti?
I love everything about Andre Villas-Boas. I dislike nothing about him compared to Carlo Ancelotti. That was easy.
5) Finally, how do you think Chelsea will line up on Saturday, and do you have a feeling about the result?
Chelsea will be in a 4-3-3, presumably looking like this: Petr Cech; Ashley Cole, John Terry, Alex, Jose Bosingwa; John Obi Mikel, Frank Lampard, Ramires*; Juan Mata, Fernando Torres, Daniel Sturridge. I'd guess Chelsea win pretty comfortably, too. 2-1? Sure, that sounds about right. Arsenal just aren't the sort of team that should scare Chelsea at home.
*Insert Raul Meireles if Ramires is still injured.
Thanks again to Graham. Be sure to check out We Ain't Got No History for all your Chelsea news and needs.