MIKEL SET TO EMULATE OSAZE'S GUNNERS DEMOLITION
Both Arsene Wenger and Carlos Ancelloti would be in a hurry to dispel the lingering memories of their teams, performances in the English Premier League last week.
The highly successful Italian coach watched in agony as Manchester City overpowered Chelsea with 1-0 victory penultimate Saturday. It was a day that the Blues were expected to consolidate on their leadership position on the log having remained unbeaten since the commencement of the current season, but that was not to be as Carlos Tevez scored the only goal of the game to ensure victory for Manchester City.
The story of Arsenal and Wenger was even more pathetic as they were tipped to run over newly promoted West Brom at the magnificent Emirate Stadium, a result that would have helped the Gunners assume the leadership of the Premier League table considering that Chelsea had earlier that day lost against Manchester City.
Instead of winning, Arsenal had to make a spirited effort to score two goals in the dying minutes of the game to lose 3-2 to West Brom. Today, the two coaches have an opportunity to grab some points when their teams clash at the Stamford Bridge in a top-of-the-bill game.
Having truncated their unbeaten run last weekend, Chelsea and Arsenal would battle to make up for the best points in today's game. For Wenger and his players, this encounter presents another opportunity for them to avenge the humiliating defeats they suffered in the hands of Chelsea last season. The Blues conquered Arsenal both home and away last season on their way to being crowned Premier League Champions.
There has been this notion that in the absence of mercurial playmaker, Cesc Fabregas, Arsenal finds it difficult to stamp its authority over its opponents, especially in midfield, and that was reflected in its last Premier League game against West Brom. With Fabregas likely to feature in today's tie against Chelsea in Stamford Bridge, maybe the Gunners could discover the tonic to dominate the midfield against Chelsea, which parades solid midfielders like Mikel Obi and Michael Essien.
Wenger, who admitted that his team deserved to lose against West Brom, would be hoping for an improved performance from his team, specially, the goalkeeper, Lucasz Fabianski, whose calamitous display was partly responsible for the defeat. Already, the Gunners appeared to have overcome the West Brom loss if their display in the UEFA Champions League in Belgrade last Tuesday was anything to go by. Arsenal handed Partizan Belgrade a 3-1 defeat to put the club in the right frame of mind for this encounter.
Chelsea too, had an impressive display against Olympic Marseille in the Champions League, recording a 2-0 win against the French side at the Stamford Bridge. Nigeria's interest at Chelsea, Mikel Obi, would be hoping to continue where another Super Eagles' star, Osaze Odemwingie stopped in inflicting more misery on Arsenal.
Odemwingie was inspirational for West Brom penultimate Saturday in their shocking 3-2 win over the Gunners. Apart from winning a penalty for his team, which was eventually saved by Fabiansky, Odemwingie equally served one of the goals for the Premier League newcomers against Arsenal.
Mikel, who is still looking for his first Premier League goal desperately, could do well to follow the footstep of his compatriot, Odemwingie, who posted a five-star performance last weekend.
Undoubtedly, the two teams are not bereft of world-class stars, who could deliver if they strike the right rhythm, and having lost their first games of the season, it has become increasingly difficult to predict the likely winners.
In the other two games in the Premier League slated for today, Manchester City will host Newcastle United with Nigerian-born Sola Ameobi hoping to put up another impressive outing for the St James' Park side, while misfiring Liverpool welcomes debutantes, Blackpool to the Anfield.