Will Arsenal have learned enough in the last week to propel them to points at Stamford Bridge this evening?

Last Sunday’s season-opening defeat at the hands of Manchester City was a timely reminder of the amount of work there is for Unai Emery to do in order to shape this team in his image.

But there were plenty of signs against Pep Guardiola’s side that the seeds of change had been sown and the first shoots of a new way of life have begun to take root.

In truth, though, there is no way of knowing if we will see the first shoots until the final whistle blows somewhere around 7.15pm, all we can do in the meantime is speculate.

If naught else, we can rest assured that the level of opposition we face today will be nowhere near as good as City were last week. The Blues are as much a work in progress as we are and will be a different beast entirely to the largely defensive outfit that existed under Antonio Conte.

In that sense, there is plenty to be optimistic about. This trip across London should prove a worthy test of where we are as a side and how much we have come on in the last six days or so.

Given the obvious gulf between City and Arsenal that was shown up last week, I would wager Emery and his staff have been working double time to make strides with this team and I am confident that will show up this afternoon. In short, the Gunners will not lack for effort.

For me, the deciding factors in the clash will be team selection, with a few possible permutations for the Spaniard to ponder.

Chief among them will be whether to play both Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the same line-up.

There are some who feel we sacrifice too much defensively by accommodating both in the side but, for me, if you have that much attacking talent available, it is important that you use it.

In truth, I see no reason not to play both together as there has yet to be a performance from them that suggests they cannot co-exist. Yes, one of the pair may lose five or six goals a season by having to play wider or deeper, but the partnership that started to blossom last season is surely too good to ignore.

There are two possible candidates to make way for the aforementioned attacking change, either Henrikh Mhikitaryan or Aaron Ramsey could drop to the bench.

Or, failing that, Ramsey could be pushed further back and Granit Xhaka could join the ranks of the substitutes for a while.

The Swiss did not enjoy his best game against Manchester City and showed on a few occasions that he has not yet shaken some rather bad habits he acquired last season – giving the ball away in near-suicidal positions chief among those.

The other selection conundrum, as I see it, is the centre of midfield. Will Emery continue with Xhaka and Matteo Guendouzi or will he look to change things up?

Were it me, I would start Ramsey and the Uruguayan Lucas Torriera in the centre of the park and make their brief a simple one: search and destroy.

While Guendouzi played admirably in the most daunting of full debuts, he is still a young man and needs time to learn his craft before he can be trusted in a position that offers him little protection. In the heart of the pitch, there is nowhere to hide while the battle rages.

Ramsey and Torriera will offer experience and grit in what is sure to be a key area of the pitch at Stamford Bridge, allowing the likes of Mesut Ozil and the two strikers license to do what they do best.

Other than that, I see no reason to change what was a fairly solid looking Arsenal side. The back four, with the addition of Stefan Lichsteiner at left back, looked pretty organised and unfussy, while Petr Cech showed his class with the gloves in goal against City.

While I am by no means confident of getting any sort of result against Chelsea, I am confident that we will see a hard-working, industrious performance from the Gunners and I am confident they will, at the very least, be in the game enough to fashion some good opportunities of their own.

Written by blogonyougunners

Journalist, blogger, and long suffering Arsenal fan, bound for all time to share the pain and misery, and occasional pin-prick of joy, that comes with following North London's finest exports.

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