Chelsea host rivals Arsenal in the early game on Saturday, with the champions looking to end a horrible start to the season. After the defeat to Everton on Saturday, there are huge questions over the players in this team. Can they turnaround their poor start and get their season up and running? It’s surely going to be a tough match for the Blues.
The Everton defeat means that this is now the Blues’ worst start to a season for 29 years. They currently sit 17th in the table, and they need a quick turnaround if they’re to have any chance of winning the title. Jose Mourinho made a big deal about how his role was to secure a top four place every year when he returned, and the pressure will soon be on him to guarantee that.
This game could be a crucial one for Chelsea in terms of making the top four. There’s few doubting their ability to finish there, but the longer this dire run goes, the more fears there will be about missing out on the Champions League. A loss to Arsenal would see them drop further off the pace, while their rivals move even further clear.
There’s also the early season defeat in the Community Shield to put right. That was the first time Arsene Wenger had ever beaten Mourinho, and the Chelsea boss will be looking to get back to winning ways against his old rival. It’s key that he sorts things out here, and to do that he’s likely to go a little more defensive, to get rid of the problems they’re having at the back.
Either John Obi Mikel or Ramires are likely to play beside Nemanja Matic in midfield, giving the Blues a solid foundation in midfield. Don’t be surprised to see him switch back to a 4-3-3, given how much space the two-man midfield has been conceding so far this term. Eden Hazard and Pedro are likely to start, but with a lot more defensive responsibilities than usual.
This is the kind of game for defensive old heads, so we could see the usual back four from last term in this game. Branislav Ivanovic will probably keep his place, with Cesar Azpilicueta at left back. Kurt Zouma may keep his place, but at home his pace shouldn’t be as important. Mourinho may play him to keep tabs on Theo Walcott, but he could switch back to Gary Cahill and John Terry and play a little deeper.
It’s going to be a tight game here, and it’s one that Mourinho knows his side simply can’t lose. We may see the pragmatist come out in the manager here, as he plays more with one point in mind than three. He’ll set up to counter attack, looking not to concede before all else. We therefore see a draw in this game, which would start easing Chelsea back to form.
LCN Verdict: 0-0 draw