Chelsea vs Arsenal: Who Will Win the Battle Between the League’s Most Attacking Sides?

As if not having a derby that grabbed worldwide attention last weekend was enough, English football fans will face another derby of sorts this coming round. While, it might not generate the hype of the Manchester Derby, Chelsea versus Arsenal is still a big game. In fact, it’s big for both clubs as they are teams are coming off a very different run of form, and questions are being asked.

Can Arsenal continue their resurgence and beat a “Big Six” team? Will Chelsea bounce back after their one-nil loss to QPR and get their title challenge back on track? How will these two teams face off against each other? Both are attacked-mind teams, basing their play on possession and finding the killer pass; both aim to entertain and score, and both play a similar 4-3-3 formations. Will both stick with their values and go out and bombard each other’s goals in order to win?

Under Andre Villas-Boas, Chelsea has been reinvented. Since the days of Mourinho, Chelsea has always had his DNA imprinted on the team. Employing his players in a 4-3-3, but a 4-5-1 without the ball, Mourinho’s team sat deep and played on the counter. Direct balls were pumped up forward to the bullish Didier Drogba, with speedy wingers Damien Duff or Arjen Robben feeding over the loose balls. Managers who have succeeded Mourinho have always struggled to change the team’s style of play.

But Villas-Boas has succeeded where previous managers have failed. His Chelsea team focus more on keeping possession and building play from the back. More so, as noted in this Zonal Marking’s article on Villas-Boas’ Chelsea, his team press forward more, closing down opponents in their own half. Able to incorporate new players, notably Fernando Torres, Daniel Sturridge and Juan Mata — players of immense skill with the ball at their feet — Villas-Boas’ has slowly implemented his style of play on the team. Impressively, others have followed suit.

Has it worked? Chelsea are third in the EPL trailing Manchester City by only six points. They could easily have been only three points behind had it not been for some unlucky decisions in the match against QPR. More impressively, with only nine men, they still dominated the game in possession and came close to getting the equaliser. The performance showed guts and determination; a willingness to never give up, regardless of the circumstances. Even when they haven’t peaked they still managed to sweep pass their opponents, most notably games against Swansea (4-1), Bolton (5-1) and Everton (3-1).

Arsenal, on the other hand, have been getting the results the hard way. Arsene Wenger’s boys are known for being the most entertaining team of the league. However, after their well publicised summer of discontent and terrible start, they having been grinding out victories – minus the tiki-taka style.

The Gunners have won seven of their past eight games, winning by two goals or more on three occasions (Stoke 3-1; Bolton 3-0; Shrewsbury Town 3-1). The other victories have been grinded out by one goal margins. Is this a good thing for Arsenal? Yes. It’s the three points that matter at the end of the day. Arsenal have, recently, never been known for grinding out victories, so the latest resurgence has shown that they have that belief and confidence to do to what it takes to win.

This is impressive considering Wenger has had to reshape the squad with new players. Mikel Arteta and Gervinho have grown into their roles, but more importantly Per Mertesacker has added grunt and height in the defence. However, the defense still remains Arsenal’s key weakness. They have only kept two clean sheets in the last eight matches, against Marseille (1-0) and Bolton (3-0) and five clean sheets this season. The goals they have conceded have been in typical Arsenal fashion: lapses of concentration and poor marking at set-pieces.

Arsenal’s run has coincided with captain Robin van Persie’s blistering form. Seven goals in nine Premier League matches this season has proven this, especially in the last two matches (Sunderland and Stoke) where he scored twice to see the Gunners through to victory. He is Arsenal’s talisman this season. With Walcott struggling to find his feet, Arshavin blowing hot and cold and Chamakh losing all ability to score, Arsenal will need van Persie to be at his best against Chelsea.

But how will they line up against each other? Expect Villas-Boas to stick to his 4-3-3 formation, with Torres expected to start at the tip of the forward three. The loss of Drogba will hurt as his scoring record against Arsenal (13 goals in 14 matches) is sensational and the Gunners have never been able to cope with him. Sturridge will be shifted to the right for support; with Mata coming in on the left. It won’t be a surprise if Villas-Boas throws in Romelu Lukaku during the game, as his strength will be a problem for the Gunners’ backline. Obi Mikel will anchor the midfield with both Frank Lampard and Raul Meireles supporting him. John Terry, along with David Luiz, Ashley Cole and Jose Bosingwa to add both steel and drive from the backline.

For Arsenal, the problem lies in defense. Vermaelen is fully fit, but the question is whether Wenger would play him. Historically, Wenger rushes players back when there’s a big game. He’ll probably start at right back, with Mertesacker and Koscielny in the centre and Andre Santos on the left. Wenger will continue with his 4-3-3 line up, or 4-5-1 without the ball pushing his wingers – Gervinho and Walcott for their speed – out wide to cover Chelsea’s overlapping full-backs. But the battle will be for midfield: Song is a starter and will do the ‘Makelele role’ with Ramsey and Arteta providing the creative spark and the duties of retaining possession. Expect Arshavin and possibly Park to come in if the Gunners need to find that goal.

The theory is that with both sides’ desire to play attacking football, this should be fascinating spectacle. Hopefully Villas-Boas and Wenger remain true to their beliefs and play their game. If Chelsea press high and bombard Arsenal, they’ll go on to win. If the Gunners can remain tight at the back, there is a chance they can be victorious. Chelsea versus Arsenal have had some classics over the years. Hopefully there is another epic battle in store this weekend. 

Chelsea Line up (4-3-3): Cech; Bosingwa, Terry, Luiz, Cole; Lampard, Obi Mikel, Meireles; Sturridge, Torres, Mata

Arsenal Line up (4-3-3): Szczesny; Vermaelen, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Santos; Ramsey, Song, Arteta; Walcott, Van Persie, Gervinho

30 thoughts on “Chelsea vs Arsenal: Who Will Win the Battle Between the League’s Most Attacking Sides?”

    1. Bosingwa served his suspension during the Carling Cup match, so he’ll be available for selection this weekend. Otherwise, good comment!

  1. I go 4 Arsenal with a slender win…Probably 2:1 or 1:0.Reason:Arsenal have improved greatly in the backline which is where their major weakness is, and Vermaelen coming into play at right will surely boost the back line.Gervinho and Van Persie…So solid and show great Understanding, well Chelsea might concede a penalty and Luiz will be the Cause of it because of his agression I don’Τ̲̅ think he can cope with Van Persie’s run of form at the moment, that’s my prediction, Good Article anyways!

  2. your article is good but theres no chance of vermealen playing RB hes left footed,he’ll probably play verm. and mert. and CB but it will be interesting to see who he plays RB djourou or kos?Im prayin chelsea are hurtin from the 120 mins against everton midweek…2-1 arsenal please god!

        1. And Maluda, Ivanovic, and Sturridge didn’t play a full 90 on Sunday. And I wouldn’t be supprised if Luiz didn’t start on Saturday with Cole, Terry, Ivanovic, and Bosingwa as the back 4.

  3. I honestly don’t see how Arsenal get anything from this match other than a loss. Torres is resurgent, I don’t think anyone can deny it, there’s more firepower, creativity, and flair with the Blues, and defensively they’re just a more solid side. They could nick a goal, but this has 3-1 written all over it.

    There’s a key difference this season that Chelsea find themselves ascending and it’s not the usual names bandied about.

    It seems Kartik is being proven correct in his assessment that Chelsea’s last-minute swoop for Meireles may go down as the buy of the season. AVB’s preference to build up play from the back and retain possession in the midfield requires a player who is both calm and intelligent on the ball, moves well off it, and defensively pressurizes aggressively to win it back. He moves the ball in a way we haven’t seen from Chelsea sides, slowly moving play forward, linking with back and front, making space and options for effective build-ups. As a Liverpool supporter I was devastated to see him go as we now see the consequence, which is lack of depth in the middle. Most of our play is now pushed out wide.

    We hear a lot of talk about new players like Torres, Mata, and Sturridge being successfully incorporated, but that would mean very little in the overall scheme of things without Meireles being at the center of it all.

  4. I think that Chelsea have a very good chance of winning the derby. This is because of Chelsea’s new and improved style of play. I believe that Ramires (box-box player with incredible stamina) will be a key player in causing danger against a team like Arsenal. Mata, Ramires, Sturridge and Meireles are a key threat for Arsenal.

    I think that AVB should play Ivanovic instead of Bosingwa because of the threat imposed by Gervinho. I really like David Luiz but I’m worried that he does not make an error in the box. I would love to see Luiz playing as a holding midfielder because he would be great at defending and at moving forward.

    However, its good to see that Vermaelen is back for Arsenal. This will just mean that the defence will be slightly stronger and so the match will be more interesting with Torres coming back into form. Since it is a home game for the Blues I see them winning 3-1 (the one goal scored by Van Persie).

  5. Arsenal will have the option of pace on the wings in this match. It will be interesting to see how AVB handles the threat of the counter attack considering Chelsea’s pressing defense. If Arsenal do not get Theo and Gervinho involved early on in this match they will have little chance of winning. In my opinion the high pressure will prove to much for the Arsenals midfield.

  6. No chance Vermaelen plays right back, absolutely no way. Kevin is correct. Left footed center back will help alongside the positional sense of Mertesacker-if Wenger decides to go with Vermaelen (I think he will) the center is where he will play. The big question is Koscielny or Djourou at right back; I for one am praying it is Koscielny.

    Who will win? As an Arsenal fan, I unfortunately would say Chelsea will win because the game is at Stamford Bridge. However, I do think Arsenal will give it a go because the defending options and tactics are much improved since the big German Per Mertesacker has joined. His partnership with Vermaelen is a mouth watering improvement. As long as our wingers track the overlapping runs of Chelsea we can go to the Bridge and grind out a result because the class of RVP can show itself at any point in time. If Gervinho and Walcott show some early movement around RVP when he drops down as a target to get the ball in his “False 9” role there are not many defenses who will hang with Arsenal in the final 1/3rd. It is a big “if” however and I am one Arsenal fan waiting to see the proper movement coming from our wing play; here is hoping we see more threatening runs toward goal by our wingers this weekend so The Arsenal can push through.

  7. Makes me laugh these BIAS articles how they depict the begining of the league as “BARCLAYS” LMFAO…Get real…In no way would Chelsea FC(By winning on saturday) be equal too or above Arsenal FC untill they 1.Win the league title more times than Arsenal (Would take a minimum of 10yrs in row)get outta here…Chelsea are sitting 7th in the “all time” with Arsenal sitting behind liverpool and ManU…

    Stop writing your propaganda rubbish to hype up Chelsea and Chelsea fans….


    1. another blind arsenal supporter.. who cares they won more title then chelsea all time??? arsenal are shit right now and that is the point

  8. @Real Talk Dude, there is no propaganda to hype up Chelsea or this particular derby. It doesn’t need any hyping up as it IS big game on the football calendar. You need to realise that the times have changed. Yes, you could argue that the likes of Chelsea and Man City have been made great because they’ve had rich owners pump money into the club but the reality is that they are top teams now and though historically Arsenal are a better side than Chelsea, they are clearly not at the moment and their recent head to heads prove that.
    On a side note, what is it with Chelsea and getting players sent off? Anyone keeping track of this? That’s 3 in the last 2 games + Torres vs Swansea and I know they had a player sent off vs Fulham earlier in the Carling cup. Need to clean up their act.

  9. @real talk , well then according to ur logic , Nottingham forest is a better club than arsenal just by their two European cup titles !

  10. Chelsea will win this derby with the help of Torres who has started to play like his old self. RVP is the most in-form striker but somehow I don’t see Arsenal troubling Chelsea that much. I’m going to go for a 3-1 win to Chelsea.

  11. Vermaelen at right back ? Are you aware of the fact that the Belgian is predominantly left footed ! If you are gona suggest a guess at a line up wouldn’t it make more sense to say that he partners Mertersacker in the heart of the defence & that Kosch instead replaces Djorou at right back as his pace & mobility would be more adept at neutralising Chelsea’s attacking threat down the left.

  12. @Real Talk….please explain how writing “Barclay’s” is biased…’s the name of the League.

    But as for something more relevant, I don’t think I could call this match either way. Hoping for a good one.

  13. look for Chamakh up front physical battle against chelsea CB to wear out Chelsea defense; Van Persie falling back to assist; goals from Chamakh, Van Persie and Vermelin, Final score :3-2 Arsenal. You heard it here.

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