Of all the London rivalries, the one between Chelsea and Arsenal has been the bitterest in the past few years. It was mainly due to the Blues’ former manager Jose Mourinho’s acrimonious relationship with Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger.
But with Mourinho no longer in the Chelsea dugout, Arsenal will be hoping to score a derby win at Stamford Bridge to bring their Premier League campaign truly back on track.
A 3-0 win over Bournemouth last week would have done well for Arsenal’s morale. The Gunners were previously demolished 4-0 at Anfield by a rampant Liverpool side, leaving manager Arsene Wenger with much to consider regarding the state of his squad.
At the Emirates Stadium, the comprehensive win served as a note of confidence, yet Arsenal is still to win away from home this season. On Sunday, they may face their toughest challenge so far this season. And this particular fixture has drawn greater success for the home side.
Chelsea’s last loss at home against Arsenal was a 3-5 defeat in October 2011. Since then, the Blues have registered five consecutive wins over Arsenal. At the same time, Chelsea, now managed by Antonio Conte, has scored in each of the last 23 games played at Stamford Bridge. This included Chelsea’s 6-0 humbling of Azerbaijani club Qarabag in the midweek Champions League tie.
In the upcoming tie, Chelsea are again favourites to win given their impressive form, and Arsenal’s poor record away to the Blues – the Gunners have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 12 appearances at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea’s form in the Premier League too has been impressive. After the shock opening day defeat against Burnley, the Blues have bounced back with three consecutive wins – against Tottenham Hotspur, Everton and Leicester City. Subsequently, they sit in third position.
Arsenal, meanwhile, languish in the bottom half, placed 11th for their tally of two wins and as many losses so far. There may also be a concern for Wenger because his players will be playing a Europa League game against Cologne on Thursday night, leaving the Chelsea squad fresher among the two for the match.
What will be interesting to see is who Wenger names in his squad. Against Liverpool, the veteran coach had left out talented wing-back Sead Kolasinac, whom Arsenal had signed over the summer. The Bosnian may provide a good contest against the likes of Pedro Rodriguez in the Chelsea ranks, or the in-form Alvaro Morata, who has scored three and assisted twice in his Premier League career so far.
Similarly, Eden Hazard will be a hurdle for the Gunners, having scored in three of his last home games at the Bridge.