So the big day has finally arrived and we are all off to Wembley to watch the big showdown between the winners of the Premier League and the FA Cup holders. Chelsea and Arsenal have had a great rivalry over the years, and after a long sequence of bad results against the Blues, Arsenal finally came good and destroyed our rivals 3-0 at the Emirates in the first meeting last season.
But Chelsea got their revenge in the return leg and were leading 3-0 until we got a last-minute consolation goal, and the Blues never looked back as they went on to easily win the Premier League. In the FA Cup Final, we were the only team that could stop Chelsea winning the coveted Double, and not one pundit believed we could stop Antonio Conte’s triumphant side but we duly came from behind to deny them their second piece of silverware, and claim our third FA Cup in the space of four years.
We met again in pre-season with Chelsea ending up 3-0 winners again in the searing heat of China, so it is obviously our turn to win this time around! We have also met twice before in the Community Shield, with our nemesis Didier Drogba beating us in the first game (2005), and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain winning it for us in the last meeting in 2015. It is also worth noting that Chelsea have lost their last three Community Shields, while Arsenal have incredibly won their last EIGHT matches played at Wembley. Surprisingly Alexis Sanchez has played at Wembley 6 times and scored 7 goals! Can he do it again today?
Both teams will start the season with new strikers as Chelsea have replaced the hated Costa with Alvaro Morata and Wenger has brought in our record signing of Alexandre Lacazette. Conte is sure that Arsenal will be one of his biggest rivals this season. “Arsenal are a potential rival this season. I consider Arsenal as one of the six teams that are ready to fight for the title.” Conte said.
“Arsenal have a really good squad. They have the same potential as last season when they were prepared (had a squad big enough) to play in the League, Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup.
“They haven’t lost players and they have bought Lacazette. They have improved because they have kept the same squad as last season.
“They have players like Ozil and Sanchez, a lot of good players and for sure they’re a good team.”
Arsene Wenger returned the compliment, but is hoping for another win. “For us, it is just a good opportunity to repeat the performance from the FA Cup final.” Le Prof said.
“I would say that Chelsea look like they have kept the basis of 95% of their squad. They have added Tiemoue Bakayoko, who is a very strong player, a strong ball-winner, similar to Nemanja Matic, maybe less of a distance runner but more of an impact player – but certainly they will fight for the championship again.
“They have replaced Costa with Morata. Morata is maybe less of a goalscorer than Costa, but he can score and provide as well.”
So who will be playing for Arsenal today? It is not yet certain if Sanchez will play, but we all know that he hates watching from the bench so I think he will start, and both our new signings, Kolasinac and Lacazette should both feature. Laurent Koscielny is suspended for the first Premier League games but can play today. We have already discussed our best Arsenal XI for today and here is the very strong team we have gone for….
Holding, Koscielny, Monreal
Chamberlain, Elneny, Ramsey, Kolasinac
Walcott, Alexis, Ozil
Wenger gave an update on Ozil and Ramsey’s injuries. “We have basically everyone available to choose from on Sunday and today in training we didn’t have Ozil, but he should be alright, and Ramsey, who should be alright as well. Some players are just coming back like Alexis and Mustafi, and I haven’t decided yet if I will involve them or not.
“Ramsey had a little muscular problem, and Ozil a a little ankle problem. They will train on Saturday.”
Wenger is very keen to get a fast start to the season and a win here will set us up with confidence. The good news is that Eden Hazard and new signing Tiemoue Bakayoko are not match fit yet.
So I’m going for another Arsenal win today, although I think it will be tight. A repeat of the Cup Final is expected with Arsenal winning 2-1 again.
What do you think?