Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal players will have put the midweek Champions League defeat to Dinamo Zagreb firmly to one side and out of their minds long before the Gunners starting XI takes to Stamford Bridge pitch today, or that it what the manager believes anyway.
As he told Arsenal Player, a Premier League game against Chelsea is always a huge game and after finally ending the winless run against Jose Mourinho in the Community Shield at Wembley this year, the players should have a much better level of confidence going to this one.
That win and the recent poor run of EPL games from the home side will mean nothing, however, if Arsenal do not turn up and put in a strong performance and Wenger knows it. But at least he is not worried that the European disappointment will have any bearing on today´s game. The two are completely different competitions and the Gunners are going along pretty well in the Premier League and there were still some positives from the loss in Croatia anyway.
The Frenchman said, “The numbers indicate that the game was not as bad as we thought. There is no deep damage, we can repair that and it’s time for us to focus on the Premier League, where we are on a good run.
“It was an important hurdle for us [at Wembley]. Mentally it’s always important to know that you can beat an opponent. It is important but not enough.
“What will be enough is our performance of the day. I believe that we will be ready, focused and up for it. Of course it’s a big game and you want to win the big games.
“It’s only a good time [to play Chelsea] if we perform and if we play well. We cannot influence too much how Chelsea will play, but we can influence the way we play with our attitude and our focus.
“At the moment I share a bit between Giroud and Walcott because we have so many games, so it’s difficult to absorb for one player. I believe he enjoys it and he shows as well that when he scores goals, he’s calm in front of goal. That’s an important quality.
“Our team performance has to be right defensively and offensively but what is good to know is that Walcott can be at the end of good movements and of good quality.”
Just as the Gunners can put the midweek game to one side and gather confidence from the way we have bounced back after the opening day nightmare against West Ham, Mourinho and Chelsea will be hoping to do the exact opposite, and use their own success in the Champions League to spur them on and help them to get their title challenge back on track.
Which team do you think will go into the game in a better frame of mind?