Wenger vs Mourinho – 2.0

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It seems unbelievable, but in 9 encounters, Wenger has never beaten the Portuguese maestro. Four draws and five wins is an astonishing record for Mourinho, and one that he probably deserves. It’s a record he achieved by playing hard, defensive and disruptive football against Wenger sides that liked to play free flowing, possession based, beautiful football. Simply put; Mourinho set up his sides to counter attack the source of our strengths, which were usually our passing midfielders. He did this by swamping the midfield, defending from the front and hitting us on the counter when they had been forced to park the bus. It’s a tactic that won him many matches against Barcelona during his spell at Real Madrid.

The match tonight then promises to offer something very different from what we’ve been used to in years gone by. For starters, this Chelsea side doesn’t know how to defend particularly well. Secondly, the current Arsenal side is comprised of hard workers who don’t like losing, especially one Mesut Ozil. And for the first time in a long time it is an Arsenal side that doesn’t mind not having the ball for the majority of the match.

This will cause an inevitable dilemma for Mourinho, and it’ll be interesting to see what tactic he decides to deploy. Does he start defensive players like Lampard, Mikel and Essien or does he try to play Arsene at his own game, and pick players like Hazard, Oscar and Mata? Either way will be a risk for him.

If he goes for a defensive line up, Wenger won’t really mind all that much. He has a team with an array of talented players like Ozil, Ramsey, Cazorla, Rosicky and Arteta who can slice open defences; and players like Giroud and Walcott and Podolski, who offer 3 different types of attacking options. If on the other hand Mourinho opts for an offensive line up, he will be met with one of the best defences in the 2013 calendar year. Bar the blip last Saturday against Manchester City, Arsenals back four has been supremely efficient in grinding out clean sheets and victories.

As for the line up Arsene decides to go with, I think there will be an emphasis on defence and counter attacking play. Theo Walcott is a sure starter, whereas Lukas Podolski is a doubt. Both though, give us speedy outlets as well as space. Giroud could again act as our focal point during an attack but will also a massive thorn in their in their heels during set pieces. Whether we start with Ramsey or use him as a substitute, it is likely we’ll see a triumvirate of Ozil, Arteta and Flamini at some stage during the match. Vermaelen is also set to feature at left center back, due to the injury Koscielny picked up last Saturday, while Jack Wilshere begins his 2 game ban as well.

Whatever tactic is deployed by the former Real Madrid manager tonight, Arsene should feel confident as he has a large pool of options in terms of players; each with their own strengths to throw into the mix. How Mourinho deals with this new look Arsenal team remains to be seen, but it’s set to be a very interesting and exciting match. A win tonight will put us 2 points clear for Christmas, so the importance of it isn’t being lost on anybody.

If you’re lucky enough to be going to the match tonight, then I urge you to make as much noise as possible to drown out those brainless chavs who seem to know no other chant than shouting “Chelsea” in different pitches and lengths. Here’s hoping we’ll have something to cheer about.

UP THE ARSENAL.

AlbanianGooner @Trimiratkoceri

Gooner Ramble

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