How does Wenger break his Mourinho hoodoo this evening?

By Avenell Dave

One draw and two defeats in the last three games is hardly the sort of form one would hope for ahead of a massive London derby.

Friends of mine who admire Arsenal keep telling me that, for all that they want to see us win the title, the way we bottle the big games and the paucity of our squad make it highly unlikely we will lift the Premier League trophy at the end of the season.

It's hard to argue even though our early season form has given a cause for optimism not seen in N5 for many a year.

We should have got something at Old Trafford against possibly the poorest Manchester United - albeit hampered by flu affecting a number of the squad.

We should have drawn against Napoli at the very least but looked so confused and uncertain that we ended up coming second in the Champions League Group.

And we showed the sort of defending against Manchester City that typified the last few seasons when we won nothing.

We've gone from possibly being seven or more points ahead in the table to third ahead of the Chelsea game and you suspect anything less than a win will not only give pundits and neutrals more reason to doubt us - it will give our own fans and indeed the players further concern that we have what it takes.

As Arsene Wenger said, we have to win our home games and let's be honest, this Chelsea side are far from the impenetrable outfit that Jose Mourinho oversaw in his first spell at the club.

We know that in Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard they have players capable of hurting us - and even Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto'o on their day have done us damage.

As we saw in the League Cup game, Mourinho seems to know how to nullify Arsenal's attack and somehow we have to find a way around that.

Wenger will probably shield the defence, whether Laurent Koscielny makes it or not, with Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini, hopefully with Aaron Ramsey given the freer midfield role to try and make things happen.

Further forward, if Mesut Ozil is certain to start alongside Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott proved last weekend that he has to be given the opportunity to carry on his goalscoring return.

Walcott is the key here.

He may be hot and cold but he has a fine scoring record against Chelsea and his pace has always caused them problems.

Arteta has to move the ball fast, avoiding his tendency to slow the play down unnecessarily and Ramsey has to rediscover the form that had people purring about him a few weeks ago.

John Terry is creaking and Petr Cech is not the keeper he once was.

But if a poor Chelsea side could win the Champions League two seasons ago by playing defensive football, there is no reason that they cannot shut us out again this evening.

We know we are good enough to beat Chelsea comfortably.

They key is to believe that we can and to go out there and prove it.




Sagna Mertesacker Koscielny/Vermaelen Gibbs

Flamini Arteta Ramsey

Walcott Giroud Ozil