Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.

Former Arsenal midfielder Stewart Robson will give his pre-match view and you can get his post-match verdict in our Talking Tactics feature on Arsenal Player.

Arsène Wenger and his side face Chelsea at Emirates Stadium on Saturday so, to find out more, we also asked Guardian journalist Dominic Fifield for his analysis.

Stewart Robson

"Since Roberto Di Matteo has taken charge of team affairs, Chelsea’s results have improved, not because they have played particularly well, but because they have shown greater resilience and a determination not to get beaten. Of course with so many important fixtures in such a short space of time it is impossible to predict who will start against Arsenal but I expect the shape of the team to remain the same as it has in most matches under Di Matteo.

"Rather than the 4-3-3 formation used by most recent Chelsea managers, Di Matteo has opted for a 4-2-3-1. Within this shape he has constantly rotated his front striker, using Didier Drogba or Fernando Torres depending on the opposition. Their performances have been erratic - excellent one week, ineffective the next, but we know they can produce moments of brilliance.

"At the back, Chelsea have full backs that like to get forward. Ashley Cole has a great understanding of how to time forward runs, particularly when John Terry has the ball and the wide player goes inside to take the opposition’s full back into poor positions. This happened on two occasions in the first five minutes at Stamford Bridge against Arsenal earlier in the season.

"However, due to their desire to get forward from full back areas, it may leave them exposed to Arsenal’s pace on the counter. Unfortunately from an Arsenal point of view, Chelsea do not play such a high offside line as they did in that game at Stamford Bridge. This time I’m sure Terry and co will drop much deeper to reduce the space for Arsenal to get behind them." 

Scouting Report - Tactics

"Since Roberto Di Matteo has taken over Chelsea have always adopted a 4-2-3-1 formation, with a bit more resilience than probably Andre Villas-Boas wanted in his team. It was obviously a bit different in midweek against Barcelona, although they were exceptional circumstances and you would expect them to go back to type on Saturday.

"They usually have one very defensive-minded midfielder sitting deep and another at his side who has a bit more license to go forward. Then they have a creative player, usually Juan Mata, in between a couple of wide men. It is all very familiar really and any Chelsea observer will admit that the team hasn't really changed in three or four years - you have the same personnel with the same big characters.  

"They have made a few changes though, and Mata has made a big difference. He has probably been their player of the year and has just offered them something different. He is very technically gifted and could fit into any top Premier League team. For most of the season he played wide under Villas-Boas and then moved centrally under Di Matteo. He is a good creator and has chipped in with some goals as well.

"Beyond him the most impressive player has probably been Ramires, who has instilled muscular energy into the midfield. Luckily for Arsenal, Branislav Ivanovic is not playing as he is suspended.

"Chelsea haven't really battered anybody this season, maybe Bolton aside under Villas-Boas. But they have been very functional and impressive under Di Matteo and results speak for themselves. He has got the old guard at Chelsea playing well and that is exactly what happened against Barcelona.

"What I would say about Saturday's game is that Di Matteo has already admitted he will rest quite a few players, those who played in that exhausting midweek game. You are more likely to see the likes of Fernando Torres, Daniel Sturridge, Michael Essien and Ryan Bertrand playing. It may be a radically different Chelsea team, although I suspect that the approach will be very similar.

"A few weeks ago I imagine that Arsenal would have steamrolled them but there is something about Chelsea at the moment. They are playing like they have been when successful in previous years and realistically speaking they cannot afford not to win. I think it will be really tight but it wouldn't surprise me if Arsenal had an awkward afternoon."

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    19 Apr 2012