The Upcoming Week – Preview

Finally! That was more like it. Three nil in a Premier League game, regardless of the opposition, is a convincing result. It was, certainly, no uphill task but there absolutely was no room for error. That early goal inside the first six minutes threw cold water on Bournemouth’s plans and we never looked threatened, even after Coquelin got injured (shot!) and we were down to ten men.

Hopefully, we’ve turned the corner (well a little!).

Up next is an European tie against FC Cologne, who were in the second tier of German Football three seasons ago. In continuation with their surge, they finished fifth in the Bundesliga last term, and secured major European football for the first time in 25 years! The last time we had anything to do with FC Cologne was when we bought their ‘Prince Poldi’, in the season they got relegated to the second tier.

As expected, there will be some rotation for the opener. The likes of Theo, Giroud and co are in line for their first start, of the season. Sanchez may feature, in order to better his match fitness. Seemingly, our manager has an eye towards the massive game on the weekend. “We will take it seriously but the priority is to focus on the Premier League and combining the two,” he stated. “Then, in December, we will see, but at least we want to qualify for the next round. Thursday to Sunday morning is short so I have to think about that. But we have to win at home and you know how it is when you don’t win at home.” Football games aren’t won in the paper, but don’t think this tie will pull long faces on our fans.

But then, at the weekend, comes the massive game. Chelsea away! Last year, before the home game against Chelsea, our manager said, “Now it looks like it is a new era where it is a bit more balanced again and we have a good opportunity to grab and change the inconvenient facts of the recent years.” We all can call upon that glorious day. But these days, ‘glorious’ isn’t a term you can associate with these big away games and us. Talking of ‘inconvenient facts of recent years’ – against the top 6 since 2013, we’ve won just 2 out of 21 games IS THIS AWAY?????.
It’s been a shattering spell of defensive collapses.

On the other side, we’ve won three out of the last four encounters against Chelsea (one on pens). Even after that colossal defeat at Anfield, our manager stuck with this 3-4-2-1 formation and I don’t think there’ll be a change in that aspect. Chelsea’s new striker has been extremely effective in the air and there’s enough logic, in crowding up the penalty box with 3 CBs. The starting XI should mostly be same, with Ramsey’s and Welbeck’s inclusions – or exclusions – demand contemplation. Apart from Santi Cazorla and Coquelin the rest of the players, right now, are available for selection and hopefully, they’ll remain so, at the weekend. Welbeck with his MOTM display against the cherries, will be causing the biggest selection headache with Alexis Sanchez waiting in the wings.

It was 2011, when for the last time we tasted victory at the Bridge. Then, Petr Cech was their hero, Juan Mata was the player all those Chelsea fans were excited of and oh yes, Andre Santos lent his hands, to steer us to the victory – a sweet little blast from the past. This is yet another ‘inconvenient fact’ that calls for some tinkering.

We’ve won just four games, out of nineteen in which Michael Oliver has officiated. Well, yes, he’s the man we’re going to see that day, with the whistle. Yet another not so convenient fact.

On a given day, our team can beat absolutely anyone in the Premier League and we’ve had enough of the evidences. There is lots at stake and the last thing I’d like to see is the players, dragging their heels, are being aloof. When it comes down to Arsenal, I’d rather be in a fool’s paradise and believe that we will, that day, get out the block first.

Mehul Patel

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