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Arsenal vs. Chelsea: Squad News and Match Preview

Arsenal welcome Chelsea to the Emirates for A Match That I Would Like Arsenal to Win, Thank You Very Much, Indeed, Sirs

Laurence Griffiths

Arsenal vs. Chelsea
Monday, December 23, 2013
Kickoff: 3 PM EST, Emirates Stadium, London
TV: NBC Sports Network
SBN Chelsea Blog: We Ain't Got No History

Arsenal, 35 points, welcome Chelsea, 33 points, to North London for match that my brain tells me is worth as many points as any other match this year, but which my heart tells me HEY HOLY HECK LET'S JUST WIN THIS DANG THING I AM SICK OF LOSING TO TEAMS LIKE CHELSEA. A win for either team sees them move to the top of the table or thereabouts; Chelsea winning would put them level on points with Liverpool, but not-first on goal difference.

For Chelsea, Michael Essien is suspended and Ryan Bertrand is out with injury, but most of the rest of the team is available. Frank Lampard and Ramires are pretty much locks in the midfield; John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic, along with recently-favored Cesar Azpilicueta and probably Gary Cahill, will more than likely make up the defense. Fernando Torres and some terrifying combination of Oscar, Eden Hazard, Juan Mata, and Willian will feature up front.

Arsenal's injury situation is annoying; Laurent Koscielny will miss out with that gash above his knee, but is soon to return; Jack Wilshere is suspended. Lukas Podolski is back and fit, but most likely will start on the bench. Nine days' rest will have done the team some good, so expect to see an attack with Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott, Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta, and Aaron Ramsey all buzzing around like bees, Tomas Rosicky and Mathieu Flamini and Podolski in the wings.

Keep an eye out for how solid Arsenal look defensively; another shambling performance like the one against City will not work. A return to a solid platform is necessary; Arteta should help, there. We'll see, also, how Thomas Vermaelen copes against a top attack. One suspects it may say a lot about his long-term Arsenal future, but who knows.

Arsenal have only won 4 of the last 24 meetings between these teams. Frankly, I don't know how you feel, but I'm really, really tired of Chelsea, and more than anything, I want Arsenal to win because I don't like Chelsea and I don't like losing to rivals. The title race is a long ways off from being a huge, looming factor in my mind at this point; I just want to get back on track and get the festive period off to a good start.