Arsenal can kiss any lingering title ambitions goodbye if they fail to best Chelsea at the Emirates and our Mix ‘N’ Match XI isn’t much of an omen for their chances.
The Stamford Bridge side won a close call-up contest by six players to five and they’re priced up at 21/20 for victory in north London.
However, in keeping with the battle for inclusion in on our teamsheet, a close encounter of the point-sharing kind may instead be in the offing.
Chelsea have won just once in their last four visits to the Gunners’ stronghold and the potential absence of Diego Costa is only likely to enhance Jose Mourinho’s instinct to play for the 9/4-rated draw.
However, even if the former Atletico Madrid bruiser were fit as a butcher’s dog he wouldn’t have displaced Olivier Giroud in our XI.
The Frenchman’s form has blossomed as the Spaniard’s has faltered this term, while he’s scored his league strikes at a better goals-per-90 minutes ratio and he lacks the disciplinary time-bomb nature of the Blues man.
Costa is far from Chelsea’s only big name to miss out, with David Ospina and Alexis Sanchez preferred to Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard.
Despite the Stamford Bridge gloveman’s world stature, his Colombian opposite number bests him on the key stats in the Premier League this term.
Ospina concedes an average of 0.58 goals per 90 minutes of football to Courtois’ 0.95, making 3.71 saves per goal conceded to the Belgian’s 2.28.
Enough said…and it’s a similar case when shunning the PFA Player of the Year favourite in favour Sanchez.
The Chilean has claimed 14 goals and eight assists in 2413 minutes of top-flight action this term, whereas Hazard has notched as many assists and a goal less despite playing 428 minutes more football than his fellow left-sided forward.
Elsewhere, Chelsea hold a near monopoly over the defensive berths with Laurent Koscielny’s pleasingly blood-and-thunder approach allowing him to shade a drum tight face-off for the second central defensive spot alongside John Terry.
Likewise in midfield the Matic/Fabregas axis is just too classy and efficient for the likes of Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey or Francis Coquelin to feature.
Arsenal’s ever-changing right-wing situation means that the admirably consistent Willian is a shoo-in on the port bough.
Finally Santi Cazorla rounds off the Gunners element, beating both Oscar and his Emirates colleague Mesut Ozil.
The Spaniard has scored five and assisted six more when played in a number 10 role in league action during 2014/15.
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