Arsenal’s backs-to-the-wall 1-0 victory over North London rivals Tottenham has added a new lease of life to their title challenge, especially after Chelsea’s shock defeat to Aston Villa.
The Gunners are now just four points behind Jose Mourinho’s league leaders with a game in hand and travel to Stamford Bridge on Saturday for a crucial title showdown in which Chelsea are the 9/10 favourites for victory.
Arsene Wenger, whose side are 3/1 with Ladbrokes for the win, has never been on the winning side against a Mourinho team but in his 1,000th game in charge of the north London club our news team looks at five reasons to back Arsenal to end the Portuguese boss’ incredible 75-game unbeaten home record.
Arsene Wenger’s 1,000th Game
Whoever is writing Arsene Wenger’s script could not have pencilled a bigger game for the Frenchman’s 1,000th match in charge of Arsenal.
With the Gunners title credentials on the line Wenger comes up against a man he has never tasted victory against and the manager who branded him a “specialist in failure” earlier in this campaign.
Would there be a more fitting way for the longest serving manager in the Premier League to celebrate his landmark than to end Jose Mourinho’s unbeaten home record and collect a first victory over his long-time adversary?
Stamford Bridge Success
With Jose Mourinho at the helm Chelsea are unbeaten in 75 matches at Stamford Bridge but if any team is likely to break this record it is Arsenal.
The Gunners have had the most success in west London against the Blues in Premier League history winning seven times away from home against the Pensioners.
The last of these came in 2011 when Wenger’s men ran out 5-3 winners and the Arsenal faithful will be dreaming of a repeat on Saturday.
Not something that has been associated with Wenger’s Arsenal team in recent years but in Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny they have arguably the best centre-back pairing in the league.
Both defenders produced world-class performances in repelling Tottenham in the north London derby, producing 35 effective clearances between them at White Hart lane.
If they can repeat that performance at Stamford Bridge against a Chelsea strikeforce lacking in firepower the Gunners could be celebrating a famous victory.
The Ox Factor
Injuries have threatened to derail Arsenal’s title bid with Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, Mesut Ozil, Thomas Vermaelen, Kieran Gibbs, Nacho Monreal and Aaron Ramsey all having spells on the sidelines.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was another player who was on the treatment table for the first half of the season but his return to form and fitness has come just at the right time for the Gunners – and England!
The 20-year-old put in a brilliant all-action display against Bayern Munich in midweek before following it up with an accomplished performance against Spurs.
The Ox’s pace will be a key weapon against Chelsea and Wenger will need the England international firing on all cylinders if his side are to pick up all three points.
Not only was the scoreline against Aston Villa damaging to Chelsea’s title hopes but red cards to both Willian and Ramires will hurt the Blues in the next couple of weeks.
The Brazilian pair, who have been mainstays in Mourinho’s line-up this season, will both miss the clash against the Gunners and Arsenal will be buoyed by their absence.
The likes of Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Flamini, Tomas Rosicky, Santi Cazorla and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can take advantage and if the Gunners dominate the midfield it will go a long way to securing a vital three points.
And with Aaron Ramsey set to return to action for the first time since Boxing Day Arsenal could have real success in the middle of the park.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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