Arsenal v Chelsea Preview

Barclays Premier League | Monday 23 December | Emirates Stadium | 22:00




English Premier League leaders Arsenal have so far struggled with their tough December fixtures, drawing to Everton and losing to Manchester City last weekend. Next up they host Chelsea in the north London derby in a vital clash as the Blues lie just two points off them.

To Win (90mins)
Arsenal 27/20 
Draw 23/10 
Chelsea 21/10

ARSENAL

Manchester City exposed the first cracks in Arsenal’s title challenge, beating the log leaders 6-3 at the Etihad
Stadium.

For Arsenal this was a result they feared even if they still sit three points ahead of the team who demolished them.

It capped a bad week for Arsenal after losing 2-0 to Napoli in the Champions League.

Per Mertesacker and Mesut Ozil ended up arguing after the latter’s lax pass had gifted City one of their goals.

Before Saturday Arsenal were the only team who have put anything like a title-winning run together, but after dropping points at home to Everton and City it will be interesting to see how they react in this important derby.

In a game where they conceded six goals, they still demonstrated great quality, and will surely be in the reckoning for the title come May.

With Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Mezut Ozil and Theo Walcott, Arsenal possess inventiveness, pace, passing and skill in abundance.

Their home form has been strong with just one loss from eight games and six wins.

The Gunners are fearing that they could be without central defender Laurent Koscielny and midfielder Jack Wilshere.

Koscielny was forced out of Arsenal’s defeat at Manchester City with a deep gash on his right knee and Wilshere is expected to be handed a one-match ban for improper conduct after raising his middle finger towards the City fans.

CHELSEA

Arsenal’s failure to pull clear at the top was encouraging for Chelsea but struggling Crystal Palace proved
trickier opponents than expected and manager Jose Mourinho ended the match grateful to Petr Cech for helping them over the finish line.

The Chelsea keeper made a string of fine saves to keep the visitors at bay after Chelsea went 2-1 up.

The hosts went in front courtesy of Fernando Torres' second Premier League goal of the season, but Marouane Chamakh's equaliser on the half-hour mark stunned the home crowd.

However, Ramires ensured the Blues regained their one-goal cushion just six minutes later and the Blues hung on for the all important three points.

Mourinho has said he wants to get more end product from Eden Hazard this season and there are signs his message is getting home as the Belgian winger has been Chelsea’s key player.

The Belgian created one goal and made six more chances in Chelsea’s win over Palace and before that match he made an average of just over two per game, while last season it was only 1.6.

Betting Prediction: DRAW 23/10
Chelsea have quite a superb record against the Gunners losing on just one of their last seven trips to the Emirates. In fact, they have won eight times in the last 11 derby matches, although Arsene Wenger will be thankful Didier Drogba is no longer a Blue - he scored 13 times against them during his time at Stamford Bridge. Mourinho's men did also win a Capital One Cup tie between the sides 2-0 earlier this season to progress to the quarter-finals. That success ensured the Portuguese had never been beaten by Wenger in nine matches between the two bosses. The corresponding fixture between them last season ended 2-1 to Chelsea, courtesy of goals from Fernando Torres and Juan Mata. Arsenal have failed to perform at their best against the Premier Leagues top teams this season and that especially evident in their last two league matches. The draw is tipped. 

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