Arsenal Three key battles to watch out for at Wembley as Arsenal face off with Chelsea Published 8 months ago on May 27, 2017 By William Pearson Share Tweet Premier League champions Chelsea will be looking to complete the double and add to their league title when they take the trip across London to face rivals Arsenal in the FA Cup final on Saturday. Antonio Conte’s men surged to the Premier League title with two games remaining when they beat West Brom in early May and are now aiming to regain the famous trophy that they last won back in 2012. Yet despite Arsene Wenger’s future still being in the balance after missing out on the top four, he will have the chance to win the FA Cup for a record seventh time with victory over their near rivals. Embed from Getty Images See below for the three key battles that The Boot Room will look out for on Saturday teatime. Petr Cech vs Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and Pedro Undeniably the driving force behind Chelsea’s title success this season has been the prolific trio of Eden Hazard, Pedro and Diego Costa in front of goal. Between them they have managed 45 (53%) of Chelsea’s 85 goals in the Premier League and, at times, they have been an unstoppable force during the Blues’ rampant season. Embed from Getty Images Add to this the 21 assists that they’ve chalked up this season and some 171 chances created across just 38 Premier League games and it’s already looking like a long afternoon for Arsenal supporters. The man tasked with keeping them at bay for the Gunners is likely to be veteran goalkeeper Petr Cech, a man who will want to forget the last time he lined up against his former club in February. On that occasion, an individual error from the 35-year-old led to Cesc Fabregas adding a third at Stamford Bridge on the way to a 3-1 win for Chelsea, in a game that also included a moment of world-class brilliance from Hazard who scored an exceptional solo goal from inside his own half. Embed from Getty Images Yet Cech has been at his obdurate, consistent best for Arsene Wenger’s side this season, keeping 12 clean sheets in 35 appearances including four in his previous seven matches. The worry for Arsenal though is that Hazard, Costa and Pedro have huge confidence and momentum on their side, and on a fast-paced Wembley pitch there’s a chance the trio could cause havoc. Aaron Ramsey vs N’Golo Kante The middle of the Wembley pitch on Saturday has the potential to turn into a mouth-watering encounter between the immense figure of N’Golo Kante and the unfulfilled potential of Aaron Ramsey. There’s little that can be said about the 26-year-old French midfielder that hasn’t already been said this season, setting the Premier League alight once again and controlling the middle of the park. Yet since making his return to the starting line-up in the middle of April, Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey has silently impressed and played a key part in pushing Arsenal so close to a top-four spot. Embed from Getty Images Injuries have plagued Ramsey’s career at the Emirates but he’s beginning to build a solid partnership with Granit Xhaka in the Arsenal midfield, and the duo could give Kante a run for his money. Whilst Ramsey offers more in an attacking sense than Kante does, often making late runs into space around the edge of the area to stretch a defence, the Chelsea man lends himself extremely well defensively and on average makes four times as many defensive actions each match than Ramsey. Embed from Getty Images Despite the attacking fire-power that both sides possess, it’ll be in the midfield where the match will be won and it could boil down to which of Kante or Ramsey turns up on the day and dominates most. Alexis Sanchez vs David Luiz If there’s one man who will carry Arsenal’s hopes of ending the season with a piece of silverware it’s their talisman Alexis Sanchez, who has been a shining light in a dismal season at the Emirates. Extra-time hero in the Gunners’ semi-final victory over Manchester City the Chilean featured in every single Premier League match this season, being directly involved in 44% of Arsenal’s goals. This tally of 28 goals and 10 assists stands head and shoulders above any of his teammates this year, and with speculation over his uncertain future set to continue into the summer transfer window there’s a chance that the FA Cup final could potentially be his final farewell for Arsene Wenger’s side. Embed from Getty Images There can be no doubt that David Luiz will have something to say about his however, lining up in the heart of a dogged Chelsea defence determined to secure his second FA Cup winners’ medal. It seems a long time ago that there were question marks over his move back to Stamford Bridge from Paris Saint Germain, as an excellent campaign has seen the Brazilian back at his fluent best. Embed from Getty Images Comfortable in a defensive three alongside Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta, Luiz has been the epitome of consistency but still possesses the desire and commitment that was so evident in his past spell. It’ll be the battle of the South Americans at Wembley and it’s almost inevitable that passions will run high – particularly between Luiz and Sanchez – and it’ll be a clash worth keeping an eye on. Featured Image: All rights reserved by Indolivescore. Related Topics:Aaron RamseyAlexis SanchezArsenalChelseadavid luizDiego CostaN'Golo KantéPetr Cech Up Next Could Alvaro Morata snub Chelsea and Manchester United for the Italian job? William Pearson Will is a Multimedia Journalism graduate from the University of Salford, specialising in the art of sports. Long-time suffering Northampton Town fan who once saw us win a league title. Find him on Twitter - @willypearson. Continue Reading You may like Bournemouth 2-1 Arsenal: Three talking points from the Vitality Stadium Why Manchester United must go all out to steal Alexis Sanchez away from Manchester City Will Mesut Ozil leave or stay at Arsenal in January? Three talking points from Arsenal’s derby-day victory over Tottenham Hotspur How can Chelsea replace the injured N’Golo Kante? Chelsea vs Manchester City: Premier League match preview, likely line-ups and score prediction Arsenal Why Everton are the perfect club for Theo Walcott to rebuild his career Published 2 days ago on January 18, 2018 By Rob Meech It is hard to believe Theo Walcott is only 28 years old. He burst on to the scene aged 16 for Southampton in League One and was snapped up by Arsenal shortly afterwards. His inexplicable selection for England’s 2006 World Cup squad, without playing in a single Premier League game, transformed him into an overnight star. Big things have been expected of Walcott ever since. It’s fair to say that, despite winning 47 caps for England and making 397 appearances for Arsenal, he has failed to live up to the hype. Now, after 12 years, Walcott is bidding farewell to the Emirates and hoping to revive his flagging career under Sam Allardyce at Everton, whom he has joined for £20 million after agreeing terms on a three-and-a-half-year deal. Speculation that Walcott’s days at Arsenal were numbered had persisted for several years, but his desire to prove himself at the club kept him in north London even when admirers came calling. His 21 goals in all competitions in the 2012/13 campaign suggested he had cracked it, but that proved to be a false dawn. In truth, Walcott’s decision to sign for Everton was probably a no-brainer. Now in the prime of his career, he simply has to be playing regularly. The reality of how far down the pecking order he had fallen at Arsenal struck this season, when he often failed to make Arsene Wenger’s match-day squad. His last appearance for the Gunners came as a second-half substitute in the 2-1 defeat to Bournemouth. Everton’s interest in Walcott emerged only recently, but he was clearly one of Allardyce’s top targets. One look at the Toffees’ recent form underlines why. After an immediate upturn in fortunes after the former England boss’s appointment, Everton have embarked on a winless streak that stretches back to December 18. Lack of pace is a pressing concern and this is an attribute that Walcott possesses in abundance. The likes of Wayne Rooney and Gylfi Sigurdsson are intelligent footballers, but not the type that will blitz opposition defenders. Instead, they have relied on chipping balls over the top for the striker to chase. As such, Everton are one-dimensional and easy to play against, with no player capable of launching a counter-attack. Also highlighting their urgent need for more firepower is the grim statistic that only rock-bottom Swansea have had fewer shots than Everton this season. New big-money signing Cenk Tosun has increased competition in the striking department but may take time to settle, whereas Walcott’s Premier League pedigree means no transitional period will be needed. The former Southampton man’s versatility makes him an attractive proposition. For Arsenal, he predominantly featured on the right wing – either in a four-man midfield or a three-man attack – but he is equally adept at playing up top on his own, a position where he tried but ultimately failed to establish himself at the Emirates. Potential is a word that has long been associated with Walcott. It is no longer applicable. At 28, this is possibly his final chance to realise his ambitions, both domestically and internationally. Everton, a sleeping giant, are a perfect fit. Under the auspices of major shareholder Farhad Moshiri, plans are in the pipeline for a brand-spanking new stadium to enable them to compete alongside the Premier League’s elite. After being a peripheral figure at Arsenal for so long, Walcott has become the forgotten man of English football. For the sake of his career, he simply had to leave north London. By joining Everton, Walcott, who will wear the number 11 shirt, has the security of working under a manager who rates him highly. Now, he has the opportunity to become the player he always promised to be. Continue Reading Arsenal Bournemouth 2-1 Arsenal: Three talking points from the Vitality Stadium Published 6 days ago on January 14, 2018 By Rob Meech Photo: Reuters Bournemouth came from behind to claim a much-needed victory over Arsenal, whose hopes of qualifying for the Champions League have suffered another blow. After an insipid opening period at the Vitality Stadium, the action sparked into life when Hector Bellerin broke the deadlock on 52 minutes. But Arsenal’s lead was short-lived, as goals from Callum Wilson and Jordon Ibe – his first for the club – secured the Cherries’ fourth home win of the season, which lifted them to 13th in the table. Arsenal, meanwhile, slipped further adrift in the battle to finish in the top four after their third consecutive league game without a win. Here are three talking points… Alexis Sanchez moves closer to the Emirates exit door All the pre-match talk centred on a player who wasn’t involved in the contest. Not only was Alexis Sanchez not named in the starting XI, he wasn’t even on the bench having not travelled to the south coast. Manager Arsene Wenger was ambiguous when pressed on this in the aftermath of the defeat, but the insinuation was clear; the want-away Chilean will not be an Arsenal player come the end of the transfer window. Both Manchester City and Manchester United have been heavily linked with a move for Sanchez, whose contract at the Emirates expires in the summer. Despite his uncertain future, this match was crying out for his never-say-die attitude. Arsenal controlled the first half and deserved to be in front when Bellerin fired home. However, the Gunners were unable to add a second and Bournemouth capitalised with two late efforts. Arsene Wenger’s side are now without a win in four games in 2018 as their troubles mount. Bournemouth buck the trend against the ‘Big Six’ Before this fixture, Bournemouth had lost all of their matches against the ‘Big Six’ this season, scoring only one goal in seven outings. While those are not necessarily the games that will define their campaign, it was a worrying statistic that Eddie Howe needed to address. Facing an Arsenal team without Sanchez or Mesut Ozil looked like being the Cherries’ best opportunity to buck that trend, and so it proved. With only nine points separating all the teams in the bottom half, an unexpected win can do so much to alter the picture. The Cherries didn’t fold after going a goal behind and they merited the three points for an enterprising second-half display. Having beaten Arsenal for the first time in their history, Bournemouth are now four points clear of the drop-zone. They are by no means safe because of this result, but the psychological impact could be immense. Jack Wilshere getting back to his best Returning to the club at which he spent last season on loan, this was not the afternoon Jack Wilshere would have hoped for. Though it didn’t go well from a team perspective, the 26-year-old was close to his best at the Vitality Stadium. He touched the ball more than any other player on the pitch and also completed more passes. After a frustrating start to the campaign where he struggled for minutes in the Premier League, Wilshere is now establishing himself in the starting XI. He was Arsenal’s best player against Bournemouth and in a team that lacks leaders, he was one of the few who looked like he wanted the ball. Wilshere ran the show in midfield and was always keen to move forward with purpose. England manager Gareth Southgate surely can’t ignore Wilshere’s form and, fitness permitting, he must be a shoo-in for the next squad. In a World Cup year, Wilshere is peaking at just the right time. Continue Reading Arsenal An absence of progress at Arsenal leaves Arsene Wenger in danger of becoming the villain Published 6 days ago on January 14, 2018 By Martyn Cooke Photo: Reuters “You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain”. So says Harvey Dent, a character in the 2008 DC Comics action movie The Dark Night Rises, which portrays the story of the fictional superhero Batman as he fights against organised crime in Gotham City. There may be no men dressed as bats around the Emirates Stadium but it is a quote that might resonate with the thoughts and feelings of a growing number of Arsenal supporters regarding the position of Arsene Wenger in recent seasons. The Frenchman is one of the most influential and successful managers in the club’s history, having secured ten major trophies since his appointment in 1996 and overseen the transition from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium, but has come under increasing pressure over the last three seasons as The Gunners struggle to maintain the pace set by their title rivals. The previous campaign was tainted by calls from from a portion of the Arsenal fan base for the 68-year-old to resign, although the club eventually opted to hand him a new two-year deal. However, eight months on and Wenger’s position has never been more fragile and the number of dissenting voices in the stands is beginning to increase. The frustration around the Emirates Stadium is completely understandable. The Gunners are 23 points behind league leaders Manchester City, face an uphill task to qualify for the Champions League next season and suffered an early exit from the FA Cup at the hands of Nottingham Forrest. Furthermore, Arsenal are in danger of losing two of their prize assets in the summer for nothing after allowing the contracts of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil to run down into their final year. The unwillingness of the duo to remain in North London is a definitive sign that the club are no longer considered to be a significant threat in the domestic game. With the club slipping behind their title rivals and struggling to retain key players, Wenger is in danger of turning from a hero into a villain. A lack of forward momentum The one thing that Arsenal have lacked this season, and arguably for a number of years, is a sense that the club is making progress or moving in the right direction. The Gunners have been on a gradual decline that is only now beginning to come to the fore and there has been nothing to suggest that Arsene Wenger has the vision or prowess to reinvigorate a club that is anchored in stagnation. Even success in the FA Cup has felt like a brief moment of respite rather than a signal that a corner had been turned. The Frenchman has failed to correct the issues that have undermined the team on the pitch, exemplified by his inability to purchase a top-quality central defender or defensive midfielder, and it has now been nearly thirteen years since the club last won the Premier League title. A sense of progress is why Jurgen Klopp and Mauriccio Pochettino have sustained their positions at Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, respectively, despite failing to secure any silverware between them and have retained the favour of their club’s supporters. Both have implemented a clear philosophy and playing style whilst creating the feeling around Anfield and Wembley that the team is moving forward in the right direction. Wenger has secured more silverware than both Klopp and Pochettino combined since 2014 yet he finds himself under increasing pressure due to a lack of any forward momentum at the Emirates Stadium. Whilst there is a general feeling that Liverpool and Tottenham are improving, the perception of many Arsenal supporters is that the club is standing still at best and certainly slipping behind their counterparts. There have been question marks around Wenger’s future for some time and yet this feels like the 68-year-old is on the edge of cliff. Success in the FA Cup has provided him with a degree of respite in recent years which made his team selection for the defeat to Nottingham Forrest appear especially bizarre. With Arsenal already out of the title race you would have thought that Wenger would have put extra emphasis on winning the competition which, arguably, allowed him to negotiate a new contract in the summer. However, such is the obvious disparity in quality between the Gunners and Manchester City that Wenger can no longer hide behind domestic cup success. Failure to qualify for the Champions League for a second consecutive year would signify how far the club has fallen and the pressure on the Frenchman has been further exacerbated by the seemingly imminent departures of Sanchez and Ozil. Whilst Liverpool and Tottenham are moving forward, Arsenal seem to be moving backwards. With Wenger’s position appearing increasingly fragile and the club in decline you have to wonder whether the Frenchman has now become the villain of the piece. Continue Reading Football News 24/7 Advertisement Trending Manchester United2 days ago Paul Pogba defies critics as his incredible Manchester United record marches on Liverpool6 days ago Are Liverpool potential 2017/18 Champions League winners? Champions League6 days ago Are Chelsea potential 2017/18 Champions League winners? Manchester United6 days ago Are Manchester United potential 2017/18 Champions League winners? Champions League6 days ago Are Tottenham Hotspur potential 2017/18 Champions League winners?