The forthcoming London derby between Arsenal and Chelsea will undoubtedly have a huge say as to where the Premier League title is heading this term.
The Gunners’ odds for victory stand at 5/4, making them favourites despite never beating a Jose Mourinho-led Blues team in nine attempts. This fact surely breathes some value into Chelsea’s 21/10 underdog standing, if not the 12/5 for the draw.
Midfield is oft where clashes of this titanic proportion are decided, though, tipping the value scales back in the hosts’ favour, at least according to the results of our dabble in the dark art of Mix ‘n’ Match-ology.
Mathieu Flamini is a force that exudes inspiration to his teammates as he storms around the pitch and his ability to pass as well as tackle gives him the edge over John Obi Mikel. Aaron Ramsey gets the nod over Frank Lampard for his eight goals in comparison to the latter’s four, while silk-meister Mesut Ozil is arguably the best creative talent in world football, meaning Oscar misses out.
A classy combination of graft, guile and goals, Arsenal’s midfield has set standards very difficult to match and, should they exemplify them against the Blues, then a home win is a distinct possibility.
Chelsea, though, have the ideal tool to combat a midfield onslaught in their uber-efficient defensive machine.
Said machine may be malfunctioning this season, but if they can get the repair men in before kick-off, few units are more formidable.
Branislav Ivanovic gets the nod over Bacary Sagna for his solidity and versatility, while few full backs are more complete than Ashley Cole, even if he can’t get in the Chelsea side at present. In the centre of defence, Per Mertesacker is preferred to John Terry after a strong season and all-action Gary Cahill is selected to partner the BFG.
Petr Cech, despite making a few more mistakes than is regulation this term is more reliable a net-minder than Wojciech Szczesny, despite the Pole’s mammoth improvement in 2013/14.
Up top Olivier Giroud is chosen to spearhead after scoring more goals than Chelsea’s three mainline strikers combined, as well as for his exceptional ability to knit attacking moves together with his deft, one touch passing and hold up prowess.
The Blues provide the two wide players in Juan Mata and Eden Hazard, who contribute plenty of goals and assists to compliment their tendencies to threaten both outside and in to complete a rather impressive-looking lineup.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date