After the dust has settled from midweek there is very little time to digest what happened as we find ourselves back among the Premier League action once again and what a way to start Week 24 of the season. London derbies always seem to be feisty but the stakes could not be higher in this one as Chelsea play host to Arsenal.
An encounter that could very well be season defining for both clubs. Victory for the league leaders Chelsea would put them 12 points clear of Arsenal and all but end any faint hopes that Arsene Wenger may have had of winning a first league title since 2004.
Those hopes will have dissipated on Tuesday night after Arsenal’s somewhat shock defeat at home to Watford. In a night where Chelsea had to travel to Anfield the opportunity was very much there for The Gunners to possibly take advantage, an opportunity that they failed to act upon.
In what was a first 45 minutes to forget, Arsenal were two nil down within the first 10 minutes and left themselves too much to do to get a foothold in the game. Alex Iwobi managed to half the deficit but it was not enough as Arsene Wenger’s men left the pitch to a chorus of boos.
After putting in a 5 star performance against Southampton in the F.A. Cup last Saturday many questioned Wenger’s decision to change the side for the visit of Watford. Did he perhaps take Watford too lightly, it certainly seems the case with his decision to make so many changes spectacularly backfiring.
Those changes were arguably made with this Lunchtime’s game in hand but failure to clear the hurdle of Watford has left Wenger’s preparations for the short visit to the league leaders in tatters and now the Frenchmen is going to have to show his worth to rejuvenate this Arsenal side.
In a sense Antonio Conte has to thank Arsene Wenger as it was that mauling at The Emirates earlier in the season which gave Conte the epiphany to revert to a 3 man defence. When 3-0 down Conte had seen enough and made the tactical switch and it’s one that they have not looked back from.
Since they have reverted to a back three they have only failed to win two Premier League matches. Defeat at White Hart Lane meant that they were foiled in their bid to make history by winning 14 consecutive league matches and not forgetting their most recent encounter when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Liverpool at Anfield.
In the grand scheme of things it was a point that once again went there way as Tottenham failed to win at Sunderland and the aforementioned upset defeat for Arsenal at home to Watford. A combination of results that once again only managed to solidify their place at the top of the table.
But although Conte would have been happy to earn a point at Anfield he will no doubt feel that it could and should have been three. That’s because Diego Costa spurned a chance to earn victory after seeing his penalty saved by Simon Mignolet in the second half.
Whether it was a penalty or not remains to be argued but on balance a draw was a fair result as Liverpool start to awaken from their January slumber. For the Blues manager it will be seen as a missed opportunity in terms of killing off Liverpool’s title hopes once and for all.
But a win today for the home side would put the death knell in Arsenal’s title bid and should Tottenham fail to win at Middlesbrough later in the day then you do have to wonder if there is anyone who can even get close to this all conquering blue machine.
So with Chelsea looking not only revenge for their Emirates humiliation but also the fact to kill off one of their nearest rivals then the motivation is going to be undoubtedly high. They do however go into the game with a couple of injury concerns.
David Luiz who scored a free kick that Simon Mignolet is still waiting for on Tuesday limped off during the game and will be subject to a fitness test while Eden Hazard has been carrying a knock for some time and will also be assessed after failing to finish the game at Anfield.
The absence of either of these two would be felt heavily but both of them will give Arsenal a glimmer of hope going into this game. But that said with Chelsea nearly brushing all teams aside I cannot see Today’s story being any different. I think it’s a home win for me and perhaps time to start dusting off the blue ribbons for the Premier League trophy.