Match Preview for Arsenal vs Chelsea
A third consecutive London Derby in a row for Arsenal sees neighbours Chelsea visiting The Emirates Stadium on Saturday. Had Arsenal won against West Ham last week, Chelsea could be coming into this with a lot of pressure. But a defeat for The Gunners last week means Chelsea hold a six point advantage over their rivals.
Moreover, Arsenal could end the day sitting sixth in the Premier League table, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester ReUnited just behind the Gunners on goal difference.
Arsenal will be without Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Rob Holding and Danny Welbeck. Emery hinted of a potential return of Mesut Ozil to the team, but the manager was not quite clear of the German World Cup winners’ availability for selection.
The Blues will be without Ruben Loftus Cheek, who is out long term. Alvaro Morata is also a doubt with a hamstring issue and with talks of the Spaniard’s potential move back to Spain in the coming days, there is no chance Sarri would pick him over the alternatives he has.
Goalkeeper: Bernd Leno
Petr Cech announced his retirement from football earlier this week. The Arsenal keeper will have a final chance of playing against his former club this weekend. But I believe Unai Emery will stick with his new signing Bernd Leno in goal instead.
Kepa Arrizabalaga will start for Chelsea in goal. The young Spaniard has had a very good debut season in the Premier League and Sarri will expect him to continue that run.
Defence: Laurent Koscielny, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Shkodran Mustafi
Unai Emery looks determined to play three at the back with the return of his first choice defenders. Arsenal are expected to start the same back three that started against West Ham last week. Laurent Koscielny, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Shkodran Mustafi will all retain their places. Nacho Monreal and Konstantinos Mavropanos will also be available for selection, but the chance of them starting the game is meagre.
For Chelsea, the Blues have had a dependable back four throughout the first half of this season. Sarri will not at all try to experiment in the defence and Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Antonio Rudiger and Marcos Alonso are expected to start. All eyes will be on Marcos Alonso, who has caused Arsenal serious problems in the past few games when these teams have met.
Midfield: Granit Xhaka, Lucas Torreira, Hector Bellerin and Sead Kolasinac,
Granit Xhaka and Arsenal’s best player this season Lucas Torreira will cover the Gunners’ midfield. The signing of Torreira has helped Xhaka a lot this season and these two have performed very well when played together. So the duo will surely be the first two names on Arsenal’s team sheet ahead of the game. The duo will be helped by wing backs Hector Bellerin and Sead Kolasinac, both in good form.
Chelsea will continue with their midfield three of Jorginho, N’golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic. Kante has played a more advanced role this season after the arrival of Jorginho and so far, it has worked out excellently for The Blues.
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Forwards: Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Alexandre Lacazette will lead the line for Arsenal with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, up front and most likely see Mesut Ozil getting the nod. Emery will surely have to start either Ramsey or Ozil in the number 10 position considering how big a game this is for Arsenal. In case both fail to make it to the starting XI, Matteo Guendouzi will start in a more defensive midfield three for the Gunners.
Alvaro Morata looks like he is on his way out of the club. And with the prolonged arrival of Gonzalo Higuain, Sarri will have to start Eden Hazard in the false nine role. This has worked well for Chelsea so far this season. Alternatively, Sarri could hand former Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud a surprise start against his former teammates. Willian and Pedro are expected to start on the flanks alongside Eden Hazard.
Prediction for Arsenal vs Chelsea
Arsenal have their problems defensively and Eden Hazard, involved in 20 League goals this season will punish them for every single mistake they make on the day. And with Emery not wanting to start Ozil and Ramsey, it is going to be difficult for The Gunners to create anything up front and get a result. I expect Chelsea to win 1-2 on this occasion.
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