Photo Credit: BackPagePix
The BIG Match (22 March)
There are mouth-watering matches in every league you can imagine at this time of the season – so it’s a little difficult to select only one from the list – but with recent events in England and in the Champions League featuring British teams, there is one fixture that jumps out and hits me right between the eyes.
Chelsea vs Arsenal
Another London derby to get the pulses racing. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has never beaten Chelsea when Jose Mourinho has been coach! They have met 10 times with Mourinho winning 5 matches and the other 5 being drawn – Wenger will be looking to break his duck this weekend. Added to the ammunition of the day is that it is Wenger’s 1000th match in charge of Arsenal, the team that has the best away record against Chelsea in the Premiership era, winning 7 times in total. But Chelsea have never lost at home when Mourinho has been in charge! Something must snap.
Arsenal are also only 4 points behind Chelsea in the league and they have a game in hand! They must also still play Manchester City at the Emirates stadium, so the destiny of the league trophy is very much in their hands. Arsenal are also in the semi-finals of the FA Cup, and with Wigan their opposition and Hull City versus Sheffield United in the other semi-final, Arsene Wenger might just be dreaming of a domestic league and cup double to end his 8 year trophy drought! But first he has ‘The Special One’ to deal with.
There is no love lost between the two managers and Jose Mourinho seems to have the edge when it comes to results, trophies and even the war of words. In November 2005 Mourinho started by calling Wenger a ‘voyeur’, a label Wenger didn’t take kindly to. Well fast-forward 9 more years and Mourinho is at it again. He recently labelled Wenger a ‘specialist in failure’, a reference to the lack of trophies over the past 8 years. Wenger was quick to respond, calling Mourinho ‘silly’ and ‘disrespectful’, he has also previously had a go at Mourinho’s tactics, suggesting that it was killing the game of football when teams were incentivised not to do any attacking, in reference to Mourinho’s defensive strategy.
On the actual football pitch, where points are won and lost, Chelsea suffered a recent 1-0 defeat away at Aston Villa, and had both Ramires and Willian sent off as well as Mourinho sent from the touchline for encroaching on the pitch. They made amends in midweek, scoring twice against Turkish outfit Fenerbache to advance to the quarter finals of the Champions League. Arsenal squeezed out a 1-0 away win at North London rivals Tottenham last weekend, and although they still have key players missing from injury, they will have rested in midweek and will be relishing the opportunity to be the first team to beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge while Mourinho is in charge. The only problem with this assumption is that Arsenal have not beaten Manchester United, Manchester City or Chelsea in any of their last 11 attempts!
Prediction: A fool would bet against Chelsea winning! But I fancy a draw…
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George Dearnaley is a former Bafana player, supports AmaZulu & Manchester United and loves talking football. He’s currently guest blogging for Gumtree – follow him @zulushark