Chelsea are in a difficult situation. They play three vital games against top-quality opponents in a seven-day stretch, and they can't play their best lineup in all of them. They're dealing with multiple injuries and suspensions in addition to that issue, so Roberto Di Matteo is going to have to weigh his options and take some calculated risks against Arsenal ahead of the Champions League match against Barcelona. Some of his stars will need to go 90 minutes on Saturday and on Tuesday, while some players need to be rested. Here's a look at what Chelsea might do.
Already out: Didier Drogba
Drogba picked up a knock in the Barcelona match on Wednesday and will not make the 18-man squad against Arsenal. He's doubtful to play in the second leg of the Champions League tie as well. Fernando Torres will take his place.
Must-rest: John Obi Mikel
With Mikel Arteta out for Arsenal and Jack Wilshere uninvolved as well, there's basically no incentive for Di Matteo to risk Mikel. Michael Essien and whoever partners him are more accomplished at keeping the ball than Alex Song and Aaron Ramsey. Mikel has been in great form and will be vital against Barcelona. He shouldn't be risked, and there's no scenario in the Arsenal game in which he'll absolutely be required.
Shouldn't start: Frank Lampard
Lampard will also be vital against Barcelona -- he provided the assist in Chelsea's 1-0 win Wednesday -- but he could be very useful off the bench in this match. In the event Chelsea need a late goal, he'd make a good sub for the last 20-30 minutes, but he shouldn't go 90.
Good to go: Ramires
Based on his performances over the last couple of years, his pace in every game he plays and the ridiculous amount of ground he covers, it is quite possible that Ramires is an alien who does not get fatigued. His fitness appears to be absolutely impeccable. Nothing about his age, his play or his history suggests that he can't go 90 minutes against Arsenal, then do it again on Tuesday against Barcelona. He's a freak,.
What to do? Start Solomon Kalou, Daniel Sturridge and Fernando Torres
Much has been made of the fact that Torres liked playing at a fast pace under Rafael Benitez, and that Chelsea have not played at a fast pace for most of the time that Torres has been on the team. Since Didier Drogba, John Obi Mikel and Frank Lampard are likely to be rested, there's no reason not to give Torres exactly what he says he wants. Di Matteo should put Solomon Kalou and Daniel Sturridge on either side of him and try to kill Arsenal with speed.