There is a lot to not like about Chelsea, which makes tomorrow a really important game for us. Points-wise, this game is not an absolutely vital one but, should we win, we strengthen our grip on second place, and send a really strong message to our rivals. While we are not going to catch Chelsea to win the title this year, a win would make it 9 on the bounce in the league and show that we really are capable of beating anyone. If we could remain unbeaten for the rest of the season then it would put us in a really good place for the start of the next campaign.
It's a sign of our improvement that, for the first time in ages, it feels like we're in with a good shout of beating Chelsea in this game, and are perhaps the better team at the moment. Having said that, we haven't won the game yet, and it's exactly this kind of fixture that has proven to be our downfall in the past - playing against an arrogant, anti-football team who will try all the gamesmanship they can muster to try and frustrate us. It's such a shame that Fabregas, who used to be our symbol of hope and of playing football the right way, has turned to the dark side. I think Chelsea have perhaps even overtaken Man United now in my rankings of most hated teams.
We will need to be right on our game and maintain our focus for the full 90 minutes so as not to concede a goal on the counter-attack, and need to maintain positivity, belief and momentum when attacking. Mourinho will be very aware that Alexis could every important in these aspects, so I await some dubious tactics from the arrogant one in stopping him play. At least Diego Costa, one of the most vile and abrasive players I have ever seen, is unlikely to be playing tomorrow, although we haven't exactly fared brilliantly against Drogba in the past. I suspect that he is not the same player he once was, but Gabriel will need to avoid any slips in concentration to keep him out and likewise with Bellerin and Hazard.
Predicted starting line-up: Ospina; Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Cazorla; Ramsey, Özil, Alexis; Giroud
I feel that our starting line-up pretty much selects itself at the moment, which is interesting given that the majority of our squad is back to fitness, so our bench will contain the likes of Wilshere, Welbeck, Walcott, Debuchy, Gibbs, Chambers and Szczesny. Even with Ramsey playing out of position, wide on the right, it's difficult to see how these players are going to get back in the team. I wonder whether Oxlade-Chamberlain, when fit, might ultimately be a better option on the right than Ramsey, and whether Ramsey then might replace Cazorla in the middle. I also wonder about the futures of Wilshere and Walcott, as it feels like they both have plenty to offer, given the chance.
Right then, back to the game tomorrow... Let's wipe that smile off Mourinho's face and await the whinging and moaning about anything and everything in the aftermath. COYG.