Chelsea. Arsenal. Stamford Bridge.
Could this be the Blues' season-defining fixture? No doubt.
Coming off a string of less-than-impressive performances coupled with less-than-impressive results, Chelsea must -- I repeat must -- show its worth on Sunday against another club finding little to draw from at the moment, Arsene's Arsenal.
A 1-1 draw with Bordeaux in midweek leaves the Blues' recent run looking like this: LWDWDD. Not the kind of lettering you'd like to see as a Chelsea fan. However, the Young Gunnas' resume is similarly skewed: DWWLLW.
Looking at those results, you can't help but label this match a must-win for both. A loss for Arsenal almost certainly eliminates them from the Premier League title race. A draw leaves them 10 points off the pace -- far from cozy. Defeat for Chelsea throws the title race into a fray, dents confidence even more than it already is and only enhances the questions surrounding Scolari. Furthermore, its a third loss at the Bridge in, what, five matches. That would undeniably rip the "fortress" label off the exterior. A draw, while acceptable, leaves the Blues with, well, the same wobbly image as it had beforehand.
So, how does Chelsea go about re-solidifying itself as the team to beat in England?
Well first, establish the midfield. Super Frank, Ballack, Obi-Wan and Deco have all struggled of late. With the power and finesse possessed by this quartet, they must show up Sunday. If they do, Arsenal -- as usual -- will have trouble dealing with the physicality exuded by the Chels. Can we expect Flo and Joey Boy on the flanks? Maybe. J-Cole has some swelling in his ankle, but is supposedly going to give it ago. Let's hope. Another look at Kalou, and I'm liable to vomit. Le Sulk, he'll no doubt be in the mix, ready to do the deed to one of his 100-plus former employers.
Billy Gallas & the garbage pale kids will probably show up with a bit of flair -- and bit of charmin. Toilet paper because they're soft you see. Anyway. Bacary Sagna, Nasri and the overrated one, Adebayor, have all been passed fit. Arsenal is still soft at the back, though, and you can bet Silvestre and Billy will see their share of in-your-face action.
What's it been, like 30 years, since this fixture was decided by more than one goal? With that being said, I see a surprisingly open. Wait, no. I see a tight, dull 1-0 grinder from the Blue side of London. And I wouldn't have it any other way.