Chelsea are a team in transition that have invested heavily to achieve success and they visit Arsenal tonight at the Emirates, with just six points off the top of the Premier League. They have scored over double their rival’s goal tally and have conceded just four less, which shows that the problems in the attack are less than their defensive issues.
Meanwhile, their hosts Arsenal are in the middle of their worst run of form in years and are hovering just four points off the relegation zone. They aren’t fluent, nor are they managing to score or even create decent chances to reverse the trend and there are no signs that a recovery is imminent.
Frank Lampard, is the latest Blues manager attempting to convince his employer that Chelsea can live in the same company as Liverpool and Manchester City but he has the luxury of being able to recruit from football’s top table. Mikel Arteta has no such luxury and is having to wait to raise funds before revamping his ailing side, yet as uninteresting as this may seem, football tends to write scripts that aren’t in keeping with the bookmakers’ odds or the preferences of pundits.
Arsenal’s goal drought must end at some point and their luck has to return because luck, as we all know, comes and goes in cycles. Chelsea were heavily favoured in last season’s FA Cup but still managed to lose to the less accomplished Arsenal, who offered up a mixture of endeavour and fighting spirit.
That’s not been evident for some time but as the football Gods debate the outcome, we mere mortals can only speculate about the result. Chelsea should win comfortably on recent form and with the wealth of talent at their disposal by a similar margin to that of Manchester City in the EFL Cup quarter-final against the same opponents.
However, the Gunners aren’t averse to bucking form and have won more games in this fixture’s history, with 77 wins to their name against Chelsea’s 65 and 59 draws. Of course, trying to apply any type of prediction other than another Arsenal defeat seems fairly ridiculous, but it’s not exactly out of the question. The task is to blunt the threat from Chelsea which includes Werner, Giroud, Havertz, and Abraham, whilst fashioning chances at the other end, and many will say that both are unlikely.
Arsenal fans are waiting for Arteta to act out of character and take chances with his selection by bringing in a handful of kids. Saka could easily be joined by Maitland-Niles, Reiss Nelson, Gabby Martinelli, William Saliba, Folarin Balogun and he should already have seen the inclusion of Emile Smith Rowe.
Pablo Mari needs to come into partner Gabriel so that we can assess the potential partnership at the heart of defence. Willian and Lacazette should take a place on the bench but I’d persevere with Pepe or Nelson as the long term option when fit. Arsenal need a result and even though a win against Chelsea looks out of the question, I believe that the Gunners can still nick this game.
Predicted Side: Leno; Maitland-Niles, Mari, Gabriel, Tierney; Ceballos, Xhaka, Smith Rowe; Pepe, Aubameyang (if fit) or Balogun and Martinelli.