As well as a fierce battle for bragging rights, the top of the table clash between Arsenal and Chelsea tomorrow also sees the latest tactical battle between Arsene Wenger and his tormentor-in-chief Jose Mourinho. And as usual, we expect it to be a clash of styles, with our Prof preferring his exciting and fluent brand of football while the Chelsea boss would play 11 keepers if he was allowed and just needed a point.
But there will be tactical nuances all over the pitch and whoever wins them is likely to be the one smiling at the end of the game. For me one the big problems for Wenger and a big decision for him to make is down the flanks. I expect Chelsea to be very well organised and compact and that will mean that the wide areas could be the best opportunities for the Gunners to create good scoring opportunities.
I am not just talking about our wide forward either, although the boss does have a tricky choice on whether to use the pace, power and work rate of Danny Welbeck on the other side to Alexis Sanchez, or whether to go with a more technical player like Santi Cazorla or Mesut Ozil.
The choice of full backs could make a big difference and the situation is the same at both left and right back positions. Both Monreal and Debuchy are the more experienced and defensively minded options and that could be crucial against Chelsea counter attacks and set pieces, where their aerial ability could be vital. One goal for Chelsea, especially if it is the opener, could spell disaster as they totally shut up shop.
But Gibbs and Bellerin would give Arsenal extra attacking threat, especially in those key wide areas, which could give us the lead and draw Chelsea out and give our attackers more space. A tough choice for the manager indeed, but what would you do?