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Premier League Chelsea at Arsenal on 12/12

Leon of Silvren2010-05-01 18:14:47 +0000 #1
BBC Sport - 11.12.04

Arsenal v. Chelsea



Highbury

Sunday, 12 December

Kick-off: 1605 GMT

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Arsenal's Freddie Ljungberg is back in contention after sitting out the Champions League win over Rosenborg with an acute migraine.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger must choose between goalkeepers Jens Lehmann and Manuel Almunia, while Patrick Viera misses out through suspension.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has a full squad to choose from, and looks likely to recall Claude Makelele.

Tiago is set to return to the starting line-up instead of Wayne Bridge.

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Arsenal (from): Lehmann, Almunia, Lauren, Hoyte, Cole, Clichy, Campbell, Toure, Senderos, Fabregas, Flamini, Pires, Reyes, Ljungberg, Pennant, Van Persie, Henry, Bergkamp.

Chelsea (from): Cech, Cudicini, Ferreira, Bridge, Gallas, Tiago, Carvalho, Terry, Lampard, Smertin, Parker, Duff, Kezman, Gudjohnsen, Robben, Drogba, Geremi, Makelele.

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BIG-MATCH FACTS

ARSENAL against Chelsea is being seen as one of the most significant Premiership matches of the season, and could signal a shift in the balance of power, should the Gunners fail to take maximum points in what is a "must win" game for them to close the gap on the leaders to two points. Confidence has been restored, following last weekend's convincing victory over Birmingham and first clean sheet in 13 games, and the impressive midweek Champions League trouncing of Rosenborg which took the Gunners through to the knock out stages. Now they look to extend their amazing unbeaten home run to an astounding 29 Premiership matches, one match short of their club record of 30 and seven shy of the Premiership record.

The Gunners set a new scoring record for the Premiership last weekend. Their 3-0 victory over the Brummies took their tally to 42 after 16 games, beating Manchester United's 41 to the same stage in 2000/01. They go into the season's 13th London Premiership derby, and their own 5th with an unbeaten sequence of impressive results. They beat Fulham 0-3 away, Charlton 4-0 at home, and Tottenham 4-5 away, and only failed to take maximum points in a 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace. Arsene Wenger's team has not been beaten in 28 London derbies (20 wins, eight draws) since losing 2-4 at home to Charlton on 4 November 2001.

Arsenal did the 'double' over Chelsea last season, and also knocked them out of the FA Cup. But the tables were turned in the Champions League, when the Blues won 1-2 in the quarter-finals on their most recent visit to Highbury on 6 April. Arsene Wenger has never lost a Premiership match to Chelsea in the 15 matches played since his arrival in 1996.

CHELSEA get the opportunity to confirm their credentials as genuine contenders for the coveted title monopolised by Manchester United and Arsenal in all by one of the Premiership's 12 seasons to date. They've already beaten the Red Devils, now they turn their attention to the Gunners. Victory would take them eight points clear of Arsenal, and guarantee they go into Christmas as Premiership leaders.

The Blues had long been assured a place in the knock out stages of the Champions League before Wednesday's 2-1 defeat by manager Jose Mourinho's former club FC Porto. It was only Chelsea's second defeat in 25 matches under the Portuguese coach. They've won 12 of 16 Premiership games under him, including the last two at Charlton, and home to Newcastle - both by 4-0 scorelines. They've also won the last three League games on the road, scoring four goals in each - indeed their scoring has increased markedly since the inclusion of Arjen Robben.

Chelsea have never won a Premiership game at Highbury, nor any in the last 14 visits (three draws, 11 losses). Their only maximum in 21 League trips to the north London giants was 0-1 on 17 March 1990.

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Referee: Graham Poll (Tring)

This will be the 17th Premiership match Graham Poll has been in charge of this season. He's overseen two involving Arsenal and two Chelsea involving, including their opener at home to Manchester United when no bookings were taken. But on average Poll has brandished just over three cards a game.

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SEQUENCES/RECENT FORM

ARSENAL

Club stats

Fixtures

Going into the weekend: 2nd 34 points

(all statistics are ahead of this weekend's round of Premiership fixtures)

Won the last two League and Cup games.

Won ten Premiership matches. Only Chelsea have won more (12).

Lost two top flight encounters. Only Chelsea have lost fewer (one).

Scored more goals than any other club in the top tier (42).

Failed to score in only one match in the highest division. No club can match that.

Lost the lead in six matches at the uppermost League level. Only Newcastle exceed that (10).

Won three Premiership games from a losing position. Only Southampton can equal that.

The 16 top flight contests have yielded an unrivalled 62 goals (42 for, 20 against).

Two losses in 56 Premiership matches (38 wins, 16 draws, two defeats).

Built the Premiership's longest winning sequence so far this season - five games.

At their most dangerous in the middle 15 minutes of the second half of Premiership games, when 12 of the 42 goals have been netted.

The spread of Gunners goals has been 13 in the first half, and 29 in the second half, making them the highest second period scorers in the top division.

At their most vulnerable in the last quarter-hour of top division clashes, when seven of 20 goals have been shipped. Indeed had matches been 75 minutes long, the Gunners would be leading Chelsea in the table by two points. In effect, they have dropped seven points in the last 15 minutes of matches - that's more any other club in the top flight.

Lost by more than a single goal once in 62 Premiership games (away to Manchester United).

Amassed four fewer points than at this identical stage last season, when they won the title.

Need to score twice more to total 800 goals in Premier League history.

One victory short of reaching exactly 900 Premiership points. (Manchester United became the first to top 1,000 last month.)

Victory here will be their 150th at home all-time in the Premier League.

Undefeated in all competitions at home.

Won eight and drawn four League and Cup games at Highbury.

Won the last two in League and Cup in front of the home fans.

Scored in every match played on home turf this season.

Kept four clean sheets at Highbury - three in the Premiership.

Looking for a 13th consecutive home match without defeat in all competitions.

Chasing an unprecedented 28th home Premiership match without losing.

CHELSEA

Club stats

Fixtures

Going into the weekend: TOP 39 points

(all statistics are ahead of this weekend's round of Premiership fixtures)

Won the last two Premiership matches by 4-0 margins.

Won 19 and lost two of 25 League and Cup matches under Jose Mourinho.

Won more Premiership games than any other club (12).

Unbeaten in seven Premiership matches.

Won six and drawn one since losing 1-0 at Manchester City on 16 October.

Lost fewer top flight matches than any other club (one).

Boast the Premiership's most miserly defence, having conceded just six goals. Manchester United boast the top division's second meanest defence with 10 goals shipped.

Kept more Premiership clean sheets (11).

Opened the scoring in 12 top tier contests - the same number as Arsenal.

Conceded the first goal on fewer occasions in top flight games than any other club (twice).

Top of the Premiership's "Last Six Current Form" table with 16 points out of the possible 18.

Holding the best disciplinary record in the top tier (no red cards, and 13 yellow).

Have three more points than at this identical stage last season, when 39 points were banked after the first 17 games and the side went on to finish a Premiership best second.

Conceded the quickest goal in the Premiership this season in James Beattie's 12 second strike for Southampton at the Bridge on 28 August.

Completed 36 Premiership clashes since losing by more than a single goal (4-2, away to Charlton on Boxing Day 2003).

Hold the strongest defence in the first half of Premiership matches - just two goals conceded.

Yet to concede outside the first 15 minutes in the first half of top flight games, but allowed four goals in the second period.

Lost twice in all competitions away from Stamford Bridge.

Won the last three League games on the road, scoring four goals in each.

Managed five clean sheets on their Premiership travels.

Failed to find the net in only one away League game (0-0 at Aston Villa on 11 September).

Won six top tier games on the road, drawing one and losing one. Cannot be beaten in any of those three categories.

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KEY PLAYER NOTES/POTENTIAL MILESTONES

ARSENAL

Squad profiles

Jens LEHMANN has played 75 (53 Premiership) matches for Arsenal and kept 24 (19 Premiership) clean sheets. He's figured in 21 of the Gunners' League and Cup games this season (15 Premiership) and managed five (four Premiership) clean sheets.

Manuel Rivero ALMUNIA has kept goal in five of Arsenal's matches this season (one Premiership) and has managed one clean sheet, and that in the Gunners' last League outing.

Jose Antonio REYES scored three times in Champions League and FA Cup matches against Chelsea last season.

Thierry HENRY is leading scorer of club goals among Premiership players with 17, five ahead of Ruud VAN NISTELROOY of Manchester United.

HENRY also leads the way in the Barclays Golden Boot standings with 13 Premiership goals, four ahead of clubmate Robert PIRES and Andy JOHNSON of Crystal Palace.

HENRY did not score against Chelsea in the Premiership last season, but he did get at least one goal in each of the previous five seasons, totalling six League goals in all against the Blues.

Robert PIRES became the 15th foreign player to score 50 Premiership goals, when he netted against Birmingham last Saturday. He's also the fourth Frenchman, following HENRY, Eric CANTONA and Nicolas ANELKA.

Fredrik LJUNGBERG is one short of totalling 50 goals across the European leagues. The Swedish International has scored 39 Premiership goals for Arsenal, in addition to 10 top flight strikes for Halmstads BK in Sweden.

If on the field at kick off, Sol CAMPBELL will be making his 350th career League start.

CHELSEA

Squad profiles

Frank LAMPARD continues to break the Premiership's record for successive appearances by an outfield player. Should he figure, the England midfielder, will be making his 125th consecutive League appearance.

There is some argument as to whether LAMPARD has already reached 50 career League or is on 49. This relates to West Ham's opening goal in the away Premiership match against Crystal Palace on 5 May 1998. Some sources give the goal to Lampard, others credit it as a Curcic own goal. (The Premier League Dubious Goals Panel had not been instigated in 1998.)

If he plays, Njitap GEREMI will be making his 50th appearance for Chelsea.

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LAST SEASON'S CORRESPONDING GAME:

Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea

18 October 2003 - Ref: Paul Durkin

Arsenal scorers: Edu 5, Henry 75

Chelsea scorer: Crespo 8

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HEAD TO HEAD TOTALS

League: Arsenal 57 wins, Chelsea 37, Draws 40

Prem: Arsenal 14 wins, Chelsea 3, Draws 7

HEAD TO HEAD at Arsenal

League: Arsenal 34 wins, Chelsea 16, Draws 17

Prem: Arsenal 9 wins, Chelsea 0, Draws 3



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