Chelsea vs Arsenal Preview

Chelsea will look to distance themselves even further from Arsenal when they clash this weekend.
English Premier League | Saturday 4 February | Stamford Bridge | 14:30

Arch-rivals Chelsea and Arsenal will lock horns at Stamford Bridge on Saturday in what looks to be a mouth-watering encounter. Despite Antonio Conte’s men sitting nine points clear of the Gunners, Arsenal will feel they hold the bragging rights after winning the reverse tie 3-0 at the Emirates Stadium. Goals from Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil gave Arsene Wenger’s side a three-goal lead at half-time. But what happened next changed Chelsea’s season for the best.

Conte reverted to his proven formula of success with three at the back, shutting out Arsenal for the rest of the match and the Blues went on to win 13 games in a row – equalling the Gunners’ record set in the 2001/02 campaign. Only Tottenham have stopped Chelsea since, with Conte’s men winning 15 of their last 17 games and keeping 12 clean sheets. The Blues want their revenge this Saturday and their record at Stamford Bridge bodes well for their chances. Wenger is banned from the touchline but all the top teams will be cheering on Arsenal to blow this title race wide open.

To Win (90mins)
Chelsea 11/10
Draw 49/20
Arsenal 47/20

Chelsea

I can’t see anyone beating Chelsea to the title this season following their 1-1 draw away to Liverpool in midweek. The Blues are oozing confidence and are the most organised team. In N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic, they have the league’s two best holding midfielders who work relentlessly to protect that rearguard. Sitting behind them is the league’s hardest defence to breach, one that went an astonishing 601 minutes without conceding a goal and has now recorded 12 clean sheets in their last 16 games.

Chelsea have won 15 of their last 17 games, turning what was supposed to be the most feverish Premier League race in 15 years into a leisurely title stroll. Conte has done great work to turn the Blues into a force again this season after last term’s difficulties. Chelsea come into this fixture having won eight on the trot at Stamford Bridge, scoring 24 goals while conceding three times – keeping six clean sheets in the process. 

The attacking trio of Pedro, Eden Hazard and Diego Costa have been outstanding. Pedro has become one of Conte’s most important players this season and he looks like the player he was at Barcelona – a nightmare to play against. Hazard has been in top form this season with nine goals and three assists to his name, while Costa has looked frightening having scored 15 goals – level with Alexis Sanchez – and recording five assists.



Arsenal

Arsenal will be desperate to claim maximum points against Chelsea and should that happen, Arsene Wenger will become the first manager to do the double over Conte in the Premier League. The Gunners haven’t got the double over Chelsea since the 2003/2004 campaign when they still had the likes of Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry. Arsenal haven’t had much success at Stamford Bridge. They’ve lost their last four meetings there, shipping 12 goals while scoring once – failing to score in their last three. Arsenal’s last victory at Chelsea came in 2011 when Wenger’s side won 5-2 – despite being 2-1 down at half-time – thanks to a hat-trick from Robin van Persie.

Arsenal come into this derby off a disappointing 2-1 home defeat against Watford in midweek. Prior to that, the Gunners went unbeaten in their last seven matches (across all competitions), winning six times – including four on the spin. In that run, they netted 19 goals while keeping four clean sheets. However, their form on the road leaves a lot to be desired, with just one win and two defeats from their last four games in the Premier League.

Wenger has been boosted by the return to form of Theo Walcott and fit-again Danny Welbeck. Walcott slammed in a hat-trick and Welbeck added a brace as the Gunners recorded a 5-0 FA Cup win over Southampton last weekend. Arsenal have been reliant on the goals of Sanchez and Olivier Giroud, but Wenger now has an attack with diversity and potential.

Granit Xhaka will miss the clash with Chelsea due to suspension while Aaron Ramsey is sidelined with a calf strain.

Probable line-ups:

Chelsea: 3-4-3
Courtois; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill; Moses, Kante, Matic, Alonso; Pedro, Costa, Hazard.

Arsenal: 4-2-3-1
Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Iwobi; Walcott, Ozil, Sanchez; Giroud.

Prediction: Costa to Score Anytime and Chelsea Win (5/2)
Chelsea have won eight of their last 10 home meetings with Arsenal, including four on the bounce. I’m backing the Blues to oust their London rivals which will take them closer to clinching their fifth Premier League title. Back Conte’s men and Costa to Score Anytime at 5/2.

Written by Chadley Nagel