By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes
Arsenal are set to abandon their usual gung-ho attacking style in favour of a more cautious approach against Chelsea on Sunday, Football Insider sources understand.
Arsene Wenger will attempt to beat his rival Jose Mourinho at the 13th time of asking by ordering his players to be compact, disciplined and not commit too many players forward when they attack.
The Gunners manager, who has an appalling record against Mourinho’s Chelsea teams, has been criticised in the past for tactical naivety against the Portugese’s well-drilled teams.
But Wenger will set his side out with the initial intention of being hard to beat on Sunday in what could well develop into a tight, tactical match if everything goes to plan for the Frenchman.
In 12 matches, Mourinho has never endured a single defeat against Arsenal, winning seven and drawing five. The aggregate scoreline is 21-6 in the Portugese’s favour, with the most memorable being the 6-0 demolition that Chelsea inflicted at Stamford Bridge last season on the occasion of Wenger’s 1000th Arsenal game.
Wenger is likely to select his more experienced players on Sunday, with Nacho Monreal, Olivier Giroud and David Ospina returning to the team in place of Kieran Gibbs, Danny Welbeck and Wojciech Szczesny. He is weighing up whether to select Mathieu Debuchy ahead of young right-back Hector Bellerin.
As revealed by Football Insider, Per Mertesacker has passed a late fitness test on the ankle injury that forced him to be substituted in the FA Cup semi-final win over Reading last weekend.