Welcome to a new feature on Arsenal.com - Talking Heads.

Before and after every first-team fixture our MatchDay Show team - and an Arsenal blogger - will have their say on the match.

Arsenal take on Chelsea in the Premier League on Saturday and our Talking Heads for this game are Dan Roebuck, Arsenal legend Kenny Sansom and David Faber of Goonerholic.

Read on for their pre-match comments and come back later for their post-match thoughts.

Dan Roebuck - Arsenal Live

In a way this was like Wigan all over again - without the handicap of conceding two early goals. Arsenal huffed and puffed but, for the second consecutive home game, they lacked cohesion going forward. Mikel Arteta's midfield control was missed but too many attacking players were just below what is required to break down the most stubborn of Premier League defences - and Chelsea certainly fall into that category. The visitors used the game as a dress rehearsal for their imminent rearguard action in Barcelona but they were certainly a threat on the counter-attack with Sturridge a particular concern. Koscielny and Vermaelen made a number of last-ditch interventions in the first half and overall it was encouraging to see Arsenal keep a clean sheet even if they weren't quite as sharp at the other end of the pitch.

What should have been an eight-point gap between Arsenal, our north London neighbours and Newcastle going into this game is now five with a game less to play. Arsenal responded so well against Manchester City after their similar disappointment at QPR and Wenger will be desperate for a repeat when Chelsea head to Emirates Stadium. They must forget about Monday's display and instead concentrate on getting the job done against a Chelsea side with the small matter of a Champions League semi-final second leg against Barcelona on their minds. Roberto di Matteo's side may have been up and down in their bid to secure European football but Arsenal know about their strength in depth. The Gunners need only look to last season's dazzling 3-1 victory over the Blues at Emirates for inspiration, when Theo Walcott in particular was magnificent. Get this one right and Arsenal should be smiling when May 13 arrives.

Kenny Sansom

I think it was a very tight game and both teams will most probably settle for a point. Chelsea defended very well and made it difficult for Arsenal to break them down. It was a little bit frustrating because we needed a spark from somewhere but we didn't get it. Normally someone like Robin van Persie or perhaps one of the wingers will step up but it didn't really happen on Saturday. Overall when you look at chances and possession, I imagine that a draw was a fair result. From Arsenal's point of view it was maybe two points dropped but Tottenham's defeat at Queens Park Rangers definitely softened the blow.


A surprisingly subdued affair, given the importance of the result in terms of Champions League qualification. While we could have reasonably expected Chelsea to adopt a cautious approach I was surprised at the lack of ambition they showed. Unfortunately, although we fashioned more than the one opportunity I had predicted, it was not our day. The newly-crowned PFA Player of the Year had chances in either half that he might have buried just a few short weeks ago. He has earned an off-day or two, and could still have been celebrating had Mike Dean spotted Gary Cahill's push on him in the second half, or if the crossbar had not denied man of the match, Laurent Koscielny, in the first.

The loss of Theo Walcott, along with Mikel Arteta, Per Mertesacker and Jack Wilshere, for the remainder of the season is another blow as we approach three huge games. For the second successive home match a delayed substitution proved costly. An opportunity now presents itself to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as the likely starter on the right-hand side next week. At least our destiny still lies in our own hands. Three wins will guarantee third place, and it wasn't so very long ago that looked extremely unlikely. We have come a long way - now let's finish the job.

With four victories required in the closing weeks to mathematically ensure third place, the visit of Chelsea evokes a wide range of emotions. On the plus side we have won the last two meetings in the Premier League, scoring eight goals in the process. However the Chelsea of April appears to be defensively more aware than the side we hit for five at Stamford Bridge in October. Chelsea's rotation options are limited by injuries and suspension, but they are bound to rest some of the players who beat Barcelona. We welcome back Koscielny, but of course a huge miss will be Arteta because his contribution alongside Song has been immense. Likeliest to step into the breach is Ramsey, who never shirks responsibility. And with Benayoun unable to face his former club there will also be a start for Gervinho or Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Anybody who considers the result against Wigan to be a pointer to the outcome of this game has forgotten the way this Arsenal side has raised itself for so many big challenges this season. For me if Rosicky gets to influence the midfield, and Walcott and Van Persie are on song, we have a very good chance of making it three in a row against our west London neighbours.

* The views expressed in Talking Heads do not necessarily reflect those of Arsenal Football Club or Arsenal Broadband Ltd.

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23 Apr 2012