Arsenal v Chelsea preview
Ding dong merrily on…well, it used to be Highbury but not any more. Damn. A great seasonal joke goes wasted. Oh well, plenty more where that came from!
December 23rd, 2013
Gunners and Blues widows and widowers – if your significant other claims they’ll be out doing the late Christmas shopping tonight, then here’s a tip: three points is at the top of their shopping list.
The Christmas Eve Eve (yes, it’s a thing) match at the Emirates tonight will see Arsenal go top if they manage a win against Chelsea – but Arsene Wenger’s record against Jose Mourinho may suggest a less favourable outcome; he has never beat the returning Portuguese manager in nine attempts.
Even if Chelsea fans are the ones donning their gay apparel when the final whistle blows, it would take a winning margin of ten goals to see them top of the Premier League on Jesus’ birthday, and with Man City nipping at the heels of leaders Liverpool with an even healthier goal difference than that, it would take a Christmas miracle for the balance to be redressed by the Blues.
Whoever leads the Premier League come Christmas Day, they’ll take great comfort in the current trend for Yuletide standings; since Leeds United took a post-Christmas turn for the worse in 2000, only five sides who topped the table and trimmed the turkey simultaneously have not gone on to win that season’s league title. Arsenal are two such examples – in 2003 and 2008 – while Chelsea on the other hand have clung on three times to add a Premier League crown to the ones from their crackers.
Jack Wilshere begins his two-game ban for a hand gesture made towards Man City supporters during their 6-3 defeat of Arsenal nine days ago, while Laurent Koscielny will be missed at the back due to a cut to the knee.
Meanwhile, Chelsea’s Michael Essien picked up his fifth yellow card of the season and is banned tonight, while the return from suspension of Branislav Ivanovic means a reshuffle at the back and a probable drop to the bench for Ashley Cole.
So it’s all to play for tonight, with a potential top spot at stake – if not at least London’s bragging rights. It’s sure to be the most wonderful time of the year for one team tonight – who’s your money on?