Hello there and welcome to Boxing Day’s Big Game – no, it’s not Monopoly against your sisters, it’s Arsenal vs Chelsea. And just like Monopoly against your sisters, it’s a game the man in charge of the house cannot afford to lose.
I am of course referring to Mikel Arteta, whose career as manager is rapidly descending into trouble airport, the worst of all the airports. Chelsea are playing with freedom and attacking flair, with their hip, young manager having a much better time of things. That has a lot to do with the far more balanced, and simply better, squad that Chelsea have. I don’t think there’s a single Arsenal player that would get in a combined ‘Best Of’ for these two teams. Maybe Tierney?
Even the Chelsea bench is stronger, which is going to be important soon judging by Lampard’s recent comments on having heaps of games to guide his squad through.
“The fact it’s two games in 48 hours is an important point for us because there are other teams who are challenging at the top of the League that play two games in three days.
“Manchester United, Tottenham, Liverpool play two games in three days. It’s counter-productive for the quality of the Premier League, it’s a risk for players if they are going to play both games at the top-end elite sport, everybody knows that.
“I know sometimes the blame can be put on the broadcasters and I know that in conjunction with each other, and this was bounced around, it got decided that we play twice in 48 hours when other teams that are challenging at the top of the league play twice in three days, an extra 24 hours recovery.”
The players won’t be thinking about the turnaround in matches during this one, and Chelsea will turn up knowing that if they play anything like they way they have in recent matches then Arsenal are going to struggle to beat them. Will Arteta opt for an overly defensive system to cope with the threat? Or will he try to open them up and allow for some football, the sort of thing many assumed Arteta would introduce when he was first hired.
Kick off is 5:30pm, the game is live on Sky Sports, live updates and analysis will be right here.