Tag Archives: John Obi Mikel

Premier League Team Of The Week – Gameweek 18

Chelsea-TOTW

See who have made our Team of the Week from an exciting eighteenth gameweek in the Premier League. Chelsea and Liverpool provide not one, two or three but four players each, while there is one each from Manchester City, Manchester United and Reading.

Adam Federici (Reading)

Aston Villa’s Brad Guzan was one of the top performers of the week as he was virtually playing alone against Chelsea, but on a matter of principle I just couldn’t select a keeper who conceded eight goals in a match and so I went with Federici. The Reading goalie frustrated the Premier League champions Manchester City for 90 minutes and was very unlucky to concede a stoppage time goal in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at the Etihad Stadium.

Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City)

Manchester City have yet to hit top gear but they still remain very much in the hunt to retain their Premier League title. It is fair to say that not everyone at City is pulling their weight at the moment but it would be harsh if its said the same about Pablo Zabaleta. The right-back has been in terrific form and if it wasn’t for his persistence – and cross for Gareth Barry’s winning goal – City would not have eked out Saturday’s late win.

Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea)

The Serbian was given one of the toughest jobs of the weekend – mark the inform Christian Benteke. He and Gary Cahill combined well to nullify the Belgian’s threat very effectively, recording a clean sheet in the 8-0 thrashing of Aston Villa on Sunday. He even managed to increase his goal tally for the season with a poacher’s goal after Cahill’s shot was palmed his way.

Martin Skrtel (Liverpool)

To be honest, Saturday’s action Premier League action fell dull until the late kick-off between Liverpool and Fulham at Anfield. The goal which brought the weekend to life was just superb from defender Martin Skrtel. A nice touch to control the ball before unleashing an unstoppable volley past Mark Schwarzer to open the floodgates for the Reds on their way to a 4-0 win over the Cottagers.

Patrice Evra (Manchester United)

Its been a funny season for Manchester United at the back. Their defenders are leaking goals but at the same time scoring at the other end of the pitch. Evra is a perfect example of this during Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Swansea. The Frenchman did superbly well to score with a header from a Robin van Persie corner but then was caught out of position as Michu equalised for the Swans.

David Luiz (Chelsea)

Chelsea may have scored eight against Aston Villa, but none was better than David Luiz’s freekick. It was very similar to how Didier Drogba used to hit them for the Blues. It was not only the Brazilian’s goal which earns him a place in the Team of the Week. Played just in front of the back-four, Luiz looked right at home in the Obi Mikel role and the African must surely be a worried man now.

Ramires (Chelsea)

The Brazilian did not even start the game but yet he makes our Team of the Week. The midfielder, who is not known for his goal scoring, came on in the second half for Frank Lampard in Chelsea’s thrashing of Aston Villa on Sunday, and ended the match as one of the star performers and became the only player to score more than once in that match. He scored the Blues’s fifth and eighth goal of the night.

Stewart Downing (Liverpool)

Downing makes the Premier League Team for the first time ever. Perhaps this is what the Mayans were referring to? Back in his regular role of a winger, the former Aston Villa wide man put in an excellent performance in Liverpool’s easy win on Saturday. He set Steven Gerrard for the hosts’ second goal of the night and scored one himself in the second half. His first assist and goal in the Premier League since joining the Reds last season.

Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)

Competition in midfield is tough this week given Chelsea’s hammering of Aston Villa but there was no chance of leaving Steven Gerrard out. The Liverpool skipper has been in patchy form this season as he adjusts to Brendan Rodgers’ style of play. However, we saw the Gerrard of the old as the Liverpool legend provided two assists for his teammates, but also got his own name on the score sheet too.

Eden Hazard (Cheslea)

After a blistering start to life in the Premier League, Eden Hazard has positively cooled off. Any worries should be abated now, though, as the Belgian wizard ran riot on The Blues’ left flank against Aston Villa. His holding midfield duo controlled the game and were able to find him regularly, so he had ample opportunities to shine. He also got himself on score sheet by scoring his side’s seventh goal of the night.

Luis Suarez (Liverpool)

Suarez was back to his best on Saturday. The Uruguayan bagged the final goal of four against Fulham and it was a perfect reward for his efforts all game long. Even though the goal came very late and technically unimportant at the stage of a comprehensive rout, it was important for Liverpool’s only injury free senior striker to get back among the goals after failing to score for more than a month.

TOTW GW 18

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Chelsea v Manchester United Preview

First meets second in the Premier League on Super Sunday as Chelsea host Manchester United in arguably the biggest game of the season so far and one that could have long term consequences on the title race. 

Chelsea currently have a four-point lead in the table and so will remain at the top no matter what happens in London on Sunday. But Sir Alex Ferguson will want his side to deliver some psychological damage on Roberto Di Matteo’s Chelsea, who lost to Shakhtar Donetsk in their midweek defence of the Champions League.

United, who came from two goals down to pick up a 3-2 win over Braga in Europe thanks to the heroics of Javier Hernandez, also visit Stamford Bridge with some reason to be confident. Last season’s Premier League runners-up have won four and drawn one of the last five matches against Chelsea in all competitions. But the Red Devils have also won just one of the last 12 trips to Stamford Bridge in all competitions, while Chelsea have won 10 and lost just one of their last 13 Premier League home games.

TEAM NEWS

Chelsea

The Blues will be without the services of their experience duo – John Terry and Frank Lampard. The Chelsea skipper continues to serve his four-match ban for racially abusing Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand, who is the brother of Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand. While, Lampard sustained a calf injury against Shakhtar Donetsk in the midweek and has been ruled for ‘ a few weeks’. Marko Marin has been training for the past couple of weeks and is expected to be in the squad for Sunday. There are no other absentees meaning Di Matteo is expected to name the same XI that won 4-2 at Tottenham last weekend.

Manchester United

Manchester United will be without their Japanese playermaker Shinji Kagawa for three to four weeks due to the knee injury he picked up in his side’s comeback win over Braga. Chris Smalling and Ashley Young are back training for a week and therefore could make the bench at Stamford Bridge, while United hope Phil Jones will start full training in November. Sir Alex Ferguson has no other fitness concerns, except for the long-term absentee Nemanja Vidic (knee), in his squad and will have to decide what to do with his striker problems after Javier Hernandez’s man-of-the-match performance in the midweek.

HEAD TO HEAD

Played – 163
Chelsea Wins – 44
Draw – 48
Manchester United Wins – 71

HEAD TO HEAD FIXTURES (LAST FIVE)

05-Feb-12 – Premier League – Chelsea 3-3 Manchester United
18-Sep-12 – Premier League – Manchester United 3-1 Chelsea
08-May-12 – Premier League – Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea
12-Apr-12 – Champions League – Manchester United 2-1 Chelsea
06-Apr-12 – Champions League – Chelsea 0-1 Manchester United

FORM GUIDE

Chelsea – LWWWW
The Blues are in superb form this season and are early the favourites to win the title, as they are four points clear at the top of the table winning seven of their eight Premier League matches this season.

23-Oct-12 – Champions League – Shakhtar Donetsk 2-1 Chelsea
20-Oct-12 – Premier League – Tottenham Hotspur 2-4 Chelsea
06-Oct-12 – Premier League – Chelsea 4-1 Norwich City
02-Oct-12 – Champions League – FC Norsdjaelland 0-4 Chelsea
29-Sep-12 – Premier League – Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea

Manchester United – WWWWL
United come into this match on the back of four back-to-back wins in all competitions and are sitting second behind their hosts for Sunday in the Premier League table.

23-Oct-12 – Champions League – Manchester United 3-2 Braga
20-Oct-12 – Premier League – Manchester United 4-2 Stoke City
06-Oct-12 – Premier League – Newcastle United 0-3 Manchester United
02-Oct-12 – Champions League – CFR Cluj 1-2 Manchester United
29-Sep-12 – Premier League – Manchester United 2-3 Tottenham Hotspur

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Juan Mata (Chelsea)
The little Spaniard has been in great form this season and is surely one of the early contenders for the Player of the Year award. It was thought that the big money captures of Oscar and Eden Hazard might stop him from playing in his number 10 role for the club, but it has not. Instead he has got even better and has already scored three and created five goals in eight league matches so far. The United defence will have to be at their very best and disallow him the space he loves to get into, if they are to get a result on Sunday.

Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
The England international is at his very best since his return from the thigh injury he picked up against Fulham at the start of the season. Many people suggested that the arrival of Robin van Persie will see Rooney being frozen out at United, but it has not been so. The duo have flourished as a strike partnership and the Englishman, who has scored three times in his last two visits to Stamford Bridge, has scored twice and assisted four times in the last three league games. There is no doubt the versatile striker will be United’s main man on Sunday and if the Blues can keep him quiet for the whole game then they have a great chance of getting all three points from the game.

PROBABLE LINEUPS

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Petr Cech (C); Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, David Luiz, Ashley Cole; Ramires, John Obi Mikel; Oscar, Eden Hazard, Juan Mata; Fernando Torres.

John Terry misses the match because of his four-match suspension meaning Gary Cahill, who was benched for the midweek Champions League match against Shakhtar Donetsk comes back in the side to partner David Luiz in the heart of the defence. Frank Lampard, who picked up a knock in midweek, is expected to make way for Eden Hazard. Ramires will partner Mikel in the midfield, while Hazard will regain his spot in the side alongside Oscar and Juan Mata. Underperforming Fernando Torres is likely to start as the lone striker up front ahead of Daniel Sturridge.

Manchester United (4-1-2-1-2): David De Gea; Rafael, Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Patrice Evra; Michael Carrick; Antonio Valencia, Paul Scholes; Wayne Rooney; Robin van Persie, Javier Hernandez.

With Anders Lindegaard still recovering from the thump injury he picked up in training, David De Gea will start in between the sticks for the Red Devils. Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra are expected to return to the side after being rested in the midweek. Michael Carrick, who looked very unconventional in defence against Braga, will be moved up the field to play in his natural position on Sunday alongside Antonio Valencia and Paul Scholes in midfield and Wayne Rooney at the top of the diamond. Javier Hernandez, who scored the late equaliser in 3-3 draw at Stamford Bridge last season, could be picked ahead of Danny Welbeck to partner Robin van Persie in attack.

OPTA FACTS

  • 0 – Chelsea have a superb home record against United, as they have never lost to the Red Devils in their last 10 meetings at Stamford Bridge.
  • 1 – Chelsea have gone into the break behind only once in the eight league matches this season.
  • 2 – David Luiz has scored in both of his appearances for Chelsea against United at Stamford Bridge.
  • 4 – Sir Alex Ferguson’s side have only been in front at half-time four times in 12 matches this season, and have gone on to win all four.
  • 4 – Javier Hernandez has scored in four of the seven clashes with Chelsea.
  • 5 – Wayne Rooney has scored five goals in his last six appearances in all competitions against Chelsea.
  • 5 – Robin van Persie has scored five times at Stamford Bridge; the best record of any visiting player.
  • 6 – Fernando Torres has scored six goals in 14 appearances for Chelsea this season, and is just one shy of total from last season.
  • 18 – In their last 30 meeting in all competitions, both the sides have got on the scoresheet on 18 occasions.

REFEREE

Name – Mark Clattenburg
Based – Durham
Age – 37
Games – 6
Yellow Cards – 24
Red Cards – 2

MATCH ODDS

Chelsea 7/5, Draw 9/4, Manchester United 21/10

PREDICTION

Chelsea are four points clear at the top of the table and a win on Sunday will see them going seven points ahead of United. The Red Devils, on the other hand, will put their best foot forward to pull Chelsea back. Goals are written all over this game, in the corresponding fixture last season Chelsea squandered a three-goal lead and were pegged back to 3-3. But both the sides have changed considerably since their last league meeting. Robin van Persie, who is the league’s top goal scorer with six goals, is expected to lead United’s onslaught alongside Wayne Rooney. However, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard are in top form and given the weaknesses in both the defences, we are in store for a treat.

Predicted Score: Chelsea 2-2 Manchester United

Predicting Chelsea and United’s Starting XI For Today’s UCL Matches

The current league leaders Chelsea and nineteen time English champions Manchester United face each other in Sunday’s huge Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge, but before that they have some Champions League business to attend. 

The defending champions, Chelsea make the trip to Ukraine to battle it out against joint group leader Shakhtar Donetsk, while Manchester United – who failed to make it past the group stages last term – face Portuguese side Braga at Old Trafford. Both the managers will be keen to get all the three points today, but at the same time they face some selection dilemmas about who to rest and keep fresh ahead of the huge clash on Sunday.

Here at IntoTheTopCorner, we predict the starting XIs for both, Chelsea and Manchester United keeping in mind Sunday’s important Premier League clash.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Petr Cech; Bransilav Ivanovic, John Terry (C), David Luiz, Ashley Cole; John Obi Mikel, Frank Lampard; Juan Mata, Oscar, Eden Hazard; Fernando Torres.

Roberto Di Matteo’s side haven’t picked any new injuries during the Tottenham game and the Italian isn’t expected to make a lot of changes to his line-up. Captain John Terry, who is banned for four domestic games, is expected to make the return in the heart of the defence in place of Gary Cahill. Full-backs Branislav Ivanovic and Ashley Cole will have to be at their best against Shakhtar’s dangerous wingers. Frank Lampard, who was a late substitute in the 4-2 win at White Hart Lane, could get the nod in midfield instead of Ramires. The former West Brom boss is expected to play the same attacking four which scored four past Tottenham, with Juan Mata and Eden Hazard starting on the wings, while Oscar playing in the hole behind Fernando Torres.

Manchester United (4-1-2-1-2): Anders Lindegaard; Rafael, Scott Wootton, Jonny Evans, Alexander Buttner; Darren Fletcher; Tom Cleverley, Shinji Kagawa; Wayne Rooney; Javier Hernandez, Danny Welbeck.

Sir Alex Ferguson rested a number of players for Stoke’s visit after the hectic international fixtures, with Tom Cleverley, Shinji Kagawa and Darren Fletcher not evening making the squad. The trio will straight away be drafted in to the starting XI for today’s game. With David De Gea having started the previous two Premier League games, Anders Lindegaard is expected to start in goal for the Red Devils. Keeping in mind Sunday’s big game, Patrice Evra and Rio Ferdinand are rested, which means youngster Scott Wootton and summer signing Alexander Buttner are expected to start in the defence along with Rafael and Jonny Evans. Robin van Persie – United’s top goal scorer in all competitions – could also be rested, that could see Javier Hernandez start along side Danny Welbeck in attack with Wayne Rooney playing at the top of the midfield diamond.

Premier League 2012/13 Team Preview – Chelsea

Welcome to IntoTheTopCorner’s team-by-team preview to the new Barclays Premier League season. Here we look at Chelsea’s vital stats, their summer transfers and analyse their chances.

Manager: Roberto Di Matteo.
Captain: John Terry.
Stadium: Stamford Bridge (42,055).
Last season: 6th.
Leading scorer (PL): Frank Lampard (11).
Odds: Title 9-2. Relegation 500-1.

In: Eden Hazard (£32.5m, Lille), Thorgan Hazard (£880k, Lens), Marko Marin (£8.6m, Werder Bremen), Oscar (£22m, Internacional).

Out: Patrick van Aanholt (Loan, Vitesse), Jose Bosingwa (Released), Kevin de Bruyne (Loan, Werder Bremen), Jeffrey Bruma (Loan, Hamburg), Ulises Davila (Loan, Sabadell), Matej Delac (Loan, Guimaraes), Didier Drogba (Free, Shanghai Shenhua), Ben Gordon (Loan, Birmingham), Tamas Kalas (Loan, Vitesse) Salomon Kalou (Free, Lille), Romelu Lukaku (Loan, West Brom).

Kits

Key Man – Fernando Torres
Didier Drogba’s departure has left a huge hole up front for Chelsea to fill. And who better to replace the strong, physical Ivorian than the Euro 2012 Golden Boot Winner? The Spaniard has proved that he is still a top finisher by scoring four goals in Poland/Ukraine last month, but can he continue the same goal-scoring form in the Premier Leagie this season is a big question. Torres’ mercurial feet and top-class finishing will play a massive role in Chelsea’s campaign and will decide whether the Blues are serious title contenders or just top four finishers.

Opening Fixtures
19-Aug – Wigan (A)
22-Aug – Reading (H)
25-Aug – Newcastle (H)
15-Sep – QPR (A)
22-Sep – Stoke (H)
30-Sep – Arsenal (A)

Probable Formation (4-2-3-1): Cech; Ivanovic, David Luiz, Terry, Cole; Mikel, Lampard; Ramires, Hazard, Mata; Torres.

Verdit: Despite winning the FA Cup and the coveted Champions League trophy, the new permanent boss Di Matteo will be expected to hit the ground running in the Premier League from the start. Failure to do so may test Roman Abramovich’s patience yet again. The Blues have boosted the squad by some heavy summer spending and are sure title contenders. I expect them to perform much better than last year but not enough to break the Manchester domination and finish in the top two.

Prediction: 3rd.

Analyzing Eden Hazard’s Possible Move To Chelsea

Finally and hopefully the Eden Hazard transfer saga is over as he is set to join ‘Champion’s League Winners’ or ‘European Champions’ Chelsea, after he announced his decision on his twitter page yesterday.

Chelsea defeated Bayern Munich in the finals of the Champions League this month and have qualified for the next season’s Champions League as the holders of the tournament after having finished sixth in the Premier League. There is no official announcement by either Lille or Chelsea about the transfer but its has been hugely speculated for the past two-three days that the clubs had agreed a fee in the region of £33m and the player had made up his mind about signing for the Blues over Manchester City and Manchester United.

Here we analyze Eden Hazard’s move to Chelsea and what does it mean for the club.

Is the transfer a Done Deal?

No. No transfer is a done deal until its confirmed and announced by both the clubs involved. Eden Hazard has just made his choice that he wants to join Chelsea but the club have refused to confirm the transfer in a statement to the Associated Press stating: “As with all transfers when we have something to announce, we will announce in the usual way.”

That means there is still time for other clubs like City and United to come in and hijack the deal. The transfer won’t be a done deal until the two clubs agrees a fee and the player passes a medical. And there have been no official reports from either Lille or Chelsea that things have been agreed.

What the does Eden Hazard signing means for Chelsea?

Eden Hazard is one of the most sought after players in world football and Chelsea beating the likes of Manchester United and Manchester City for his signature means a lot for the club.  When Didier Drogba announced he would be leaving the club in the summer after his contract expired, the Chelsea fans were worried and looked at Juan Mata and Fernando Torres as their primary force of attack. But now with Eden Hazard signing surely the future is bright at Stamford Bridge.

With the arrival of Eden Hazard – who has 20 league goals and 15 assists for Lille this season – Chelsea now boast an incredibly impressive midfield with the likes of Juan Mata, Frank Lampard and Ramires already in it. All of them are great passers of the ball and can score some important goals as well. Chelsea looked more a defensive minded team last season especially in the Champions League, but now with the arrivals of Kevin De Bruyne, Marko Marin and Eden Hazard they certainly have more versatility in the final third.

The midfield of the Stamford Bridge club now is a powerhouse which consist the likes of Frank Lampard, Michael Essien, John Obi Mikel, Ramires, Florent Malouda, Oriol Romeu,  Marko Marin, Kevin De Bruyne, Josh McEachran, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard. There not many teams in the world who can boast that much of talent and depth in the middle of the field.

Where will Eden Hazard play for Chelsea?

Hazard started the last season on the wings for Lille, but as the season progressed he was moved in the center by coach Rudi Garcia and was given the role of the main playmaker of the team. That drastically increased his performances for the Ligue 1 side and saw him end the season with 20 goals – including a hat-trick in his last game for the club – and 15 assists.

According to the recent reports in the Daily Mail, Hazard said he wanted to play the same role that he played for Lille, the number10 role for his new club, that is the role just behind the striker, the role of main playmaker. He would be playing the exactly same role at Stamford Bridge. The Blues played with a 4-2-3-1 formation under Roberto Di Matteo and if the Italian becomes the next permanent coach of the club then that formation would fit Hazard perfectly, as he would be the main man just behind Fernando Torres.

With his brilliant passing skills and creativity Hazard would perfectly fit in the role which he has asked for and at the same time could help Torres prove his worth to the club. Torres by no means had a bad season as compared to his first six months at the club but now with the arrival of Hazard expect Torres to get some more chances to score some more goals this season. I always said Chelsea needed a playmaker to get the best out of  Torres and now finally they have got Eden Hazard.

At the same time the arrival of the Belgium international will also help to fill the void left by the departing Salomon Kalou. As stated before Hazard started his career on the wings and so when needed Hazard could also play on either wings. His ability to play with either foot, dribbling and pace would cause major trouble to fullbacks.

Why did Hazard choose Chelsea over United or City?

According to the reports in the Daily Mail, Hazard stated he would choose the club that would guarantee him more playing time and would also give him the number10 role. Chelsea were the best option among the three that would satisfy his demands. They desperately needed a playmaker as they can’t depend on Frank Lampard anymore to perform all season as he isnt getting any younger so Hazard was always going to be the main man around whom the team would be build, if he joined the Blues.

United play an orthodox 4-4-2 formation which meant Hazard would have to play on the wings where he would have faced some stiff competition from Antonio Valencia, Nani and Ashley Young for a starting place or he would have settle in the center of midfield besides Michael Carrick. Both the roles didn’t guarantee him much playing time as he wanted and neither gave him the number10 role which asked for. At City, Hazard would have faced some tough competition from David Silva and Samir Nasri for the role he wanted and at the same time he won’t have got the same amount of playing time he would get at Chelsea.

Many people would say Chelsea offered him more wages than the other two clubs but I feel there is no harm for the player to go for more money if he has chance to do that. We have seen in the past that money does buy success and Chelsea have proved that on many occasions, so going to Chelsea was not just about the money.

Will Hazard be a hit in the Premier League?

No one can say whether he would be a hit in the Premier League or will turn out to be Chelsea’s next big money signing that flopped. Hazard is a great talent and has the potential to be one of the best players in the Premier League but he needs to work hard. He won the Ligue 1 Player of the Year twice in the row with Lille but that doesn’t mean he would be a hit in the Premier League. He isn’t going to be as dominant at Chelsea as he was with Lille because Premier League is completely a different ball game compared to Ligue 1. The standard of the Premier League game is on a very higher level compared to any other league and we have seen many talented players come to the Premier League and failed. I just hope he lives upto his hype and reaches his potential as well as establishes himself as a Chelsea fan favourite.

Arsenal v Chelsea – Key Battles

Chelsea travel to the Emirates on Saturday with both sides craving a win in their quest for Champions League football. The visitors currently sit in sixth position, seven points behind third placed Arsenal.

With the Premier League season in the final straight, Chelsea will be hoping to capitalise on their game in hand and edge closer to a top four finish. After a shock defeat against Wigan on Monday, Arsenal suddenly find themselves under pressure. Tottenham still trail the Gunners by five points, but Spurs have a game in hand over their North London rivals. A further loss against Chelsea could start a worrying downward trend for Arsene Wenger’s men. Saturday’s derby could be a defining moment in either side’s season.

Will Chelsea have one eye on Barcelona, or will Arsenal suffer due to their weakened midfield? Into The Top Corner takes a look at the key battles that could define the outcome of this weekend’s big game.

Tomas Rosicky v John Obi Mikel

Arsenal have been hit with a fresh injury blow this week after Mikel Arteta was ruled out for the rest of the season. The former Everton man has been pivotal in one big game already this season, with his strike from distance settling an intriguing tie between the Gunners and Manchester City. Arsene Wenger will now have to look to a resurgent Tomas Rosicky for his main creative outlet in the middle of the park.

Rosicky is susceptible to being outmuscled and Chelsea will hope that John Obi Mikel can contain the Arsenal playmaker. Mikel has had an inconsistent season, but a strong showing against Barcelona will have boosted his confidence ahead of facing Arsenal.

Ashley Cole v Theo Walcott

After keeping Dani Alves quiet on Wednesday night, Ashley Cole once again proved his defensive credentials. The England international was often assisted by Ramires, however, and Roberto Di Matteo may be tempted to rest the Brazilian in anticipation of a visit to the Nou Camp next week. Should that happen, a potentially tired Cole could find himself exposed against the sheer pace of Theo Walcott. Shackling Dani Alves is likely to have taken its toll on the England full-back and Walcott will be hoping to exploit that and beat his man frequently.

Thomas Vermaelen v Fernando Torres

With Didier Drogba set to miss Saturday’s game with a knee injury, Chelsea lose a striker with a record of eight goals against Arsenal. Roberto Di Matteo will have to call on the still inconsistent Fernando Torres to do the damage against the Gunners, and it’ll be a big ask for the Spaniard. An in-form, confident Drogba would have been sure to cause Arsenal trouble and his absence is a big loss for the Blues.

Arsenal’s Thomas Vermaelen has been a rock at the back this season and one of the few players able to leave Tuesday’s loss against Wigan with his head held high. Vermaelen’s ability with the ball at his feet could help to break down a resistant Chelsea, but with defending still being his main duty, he would much prefer to face Torres than Drogba and will be happy with the Ivorian missing out. Whilst Torres can count pace as one of his key assets, Vermaelen should be able to match the Spaniard in that regard, and is would have been much more likely to struggle against the brute strength of Drogba.

John Terry v Robin van Persie

After reaffirming his status as one of the top central defenders in the world against Barcelona, John Terry now faces confronting one more of the best strikers in the game. Robin van Persie fancies his chances against most defenders, but John Terry is never an easy man to get past. With van Persie still avoiding further contract talks, scoring in a derby against Chelsea would be the perfect way for the Dutchman to keep his face in the transfer window. After being shut out by Gary Caldwell in midweek, however, van Persie showed that he still occasionally struggles when decisions go against him, and Terry will look to use this frustration to his benefit.