When Wenger’s men dismantled Chelsea 3-0 at The Emirates Stadium on September 24th 2016, they looked like genuine title contenders and The Blues looked listless and lacking in direction. Since that humbling defeat, Chelsea have been virtually untouchable while the Gunners have been painfully erratic. It was a watershed moment that necessitated a change in formation for Conte’s Chelsea that resulted in an immediate change in fortunes.
Arsenal will have to do without a host of central midfielders for today’s clash. Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla are injured, Granit Xhaka is suspended and Mohamed Elneny is preparing to represent Egypt in tomorrow’s African Cup of Nations final. Chelsea’s N’Golo Kanté was peerless in a sleeves-up performance at Anfield on Tuesday night where he seemed to complete the work of two men. It’s often said that football matches are won and lost in midfield and this grudge derby is unlikely to be an exception.
Doubtful: Luiz, Hazard
Injured: Cazorla, Debuchy, Ramsey
Unavailable: Elneny (AFCON duty)
Chelsea centre back David Luiz will undergo a late fitness test and Antonio Conte will be hoping that the ball-playing defender will be fit to continue at the heart of Chelsea’s backline. The Brazilian scored at Anfield with a free kick but his real importance to the team is his ability to build attacks after collecting the ball off his more conservative colleagues. Operating just ahead of him is Chelsea’s midfield lynchpin N’Golo Kanté. The Frenchman made 14 tackles against Liverpool last time out (more than any other player has achieved in a Premier League match this season).
Quite how Arsenal choose to deploy playmaker Mesut Özil at Stamford Bridge might provide clues as to how they approach the game. Arsenal’s lack of available central midfielders could necessitate that the German is shifted wide and Nigerian starlet Alex Iwobi drops into a more conservative midfield role. Outstanding centre back Laurent Koscielny is likely to be a busy man at the Bridge and if Arsenal have any hope of getting a result, much will depend on the Frenchman’s balance of aggression and composure.
Key Match Stats
- Chelsea have won 15 of their last 17 Premier League matches.
- Chelsea have won their last 8 home matches in the Premier League.
- Chelsea have conceded only 7 goals in their last 13 Premier League matches.
- Chelsea have scored at least 2 goals in their last 7 home matches against Arsenal in all competitions.
- Chelsea have kept a clean sheet in 6 of their last 8 home matches in the Premier League.
- Chelsea have won 6 of their last 7 home matches against Arsenal in all competitions.
- Arsenal have won on only 1 of their last 7 visits to Stamford Bridge in the Premier League.
- There have been over 2.5 goals scored in 9 of Arsenal’s last 11 Premier League games.
- Arsenal haven’t won at Stamford Bridge since 2011.
- Arsenal haven’t done the Premier League double over Chelsea since 2003/2004.
Verdict & Picks
Chelsea are the overwhelming favourites for this one but Arsenal’s unpredictable nature means that they always offer some value to punters. A draw is available at 3.45 on ClickaBet and that could prove mildly tempting in a feisty London derby.