Chelsea vs Arsenal Preview

Chelsea vs Arsenal Preview

London rivals Chelsea and Arsenal face off at Stamford Bridge on Saturday night. New Blues boss Maurizio Sarri will be looking to win his first home game of the season and inflict a second straight defeat on Unai Emery’s side. The Gunners will be aiming to bounce back and pick up their first points of the season.

I’m expecting both of these teams to compete for fourth place this season and Arsenal cannot afford to lose this game and be six points behind their rivals so early in the campaign.
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English Premier League
Chelsea vs Arsenal
Saturday 18 August
Stamford Bridge 
18:30

To Win 
Chelsea 8/10
Draw 29/10
Arsenal 33/10

Chelsea

Maurizio Sarri made a winning start as Chelsea boss as his side cruised to a 3-0 victory away to Huddersfield last Saturday courtesy of goals from N'Golo Kante, plus a penalty from new boy Jorginho and another from Pedro. It wasn’t a spectacular performance but rather efficient. 

Chelsea’s new No.1 Kepa Arrizabalaga, the world's most expensive goalkeeper, barely had a save to make on his debut against the Terriers, but it’s going to be a much bigger test for the Spaniard against the Gunners. 

Sarri has abandoned Antonio Conte’s 3-4-3 formation and has gone with his favoured 4-3-3 system that he used so successfully in the Serie A with Napoli. His first-choice centre-back pairing looks to be David Luiz and Antonio Rudiger, with pass-master Jorginho as the deepest central midfielder due to his playmaking ability, with Kante playing a more advanced role. 

Forgotten man Ross Barkley was given the nod in the Blues' Premier League opener, having impressed in pre-season, and he’ll be hoping to retain his place in the side. Mateo Kovacic, who joined on loan from Real Madrid, isn’t fully fit to start but he could be a real game-changer coming off the substitute’s bench. 

Despite getting on the scoresheet last weekend, Pedro is likely to make way for Eden Hazard. The Belgian, who won the Silver Ball at the recent 2018 FIFA World Cup, will be key to helping his side to three points.

This will be Olivier Giroud’s first time facing Arsenal since he left for the Blues in January and if Alvaro Morata isn’t up for it then the World Cup winner will be an excellent option for Sarri. The 31-year-old is reliable and has a tremendous impact when coming off the bench.

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Arsenal

Unai Emery’s reign as Arsenal manager started with a 2-0 defeat at home to defending Premier League champions Manchester City. Uninspiring performances from key players such as Petr Cech, Granit Xhaka, Aaron Ramsey, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Mesut Ozil couldn’t be overshadowed against a side of City’s calibre as Pep Guardiola’s men strolled to victory. 

Emery has some big decisions to make ahead of the clash against Chelsea. Alexandre Lacazette didn’t start against City but looked sharp when he came on, providing a much-needed focal point for the Gunners. Emery will need to make a call on whether to start the Frenchman against Sarri’s side. 

Another decision the Spanish boss needs to make is whether to stick with the midfield duo of Xhaka and Matteo Guendouzi or bring in Uruguayan midfielder Lucas Torreira. Stephan Lichtsteiner, who signed from Juventus, is expected to replace Ainsley Maitland-Niles at left-back. 

One new signing who won’t make the starting XI is German goalkeeper Bernd Leno, who joined from Bayer Leverkusen. Emery has hinted that Cech will still be first-choice despite an unconvincing display against City. The 36-year-old will need to repay the manager's faith in him with a solid performance against his former club. 

I know it’s only the second week in the season, but this does feel like it's a must-not-lose sort of game for Arsenal. If they lose at the Bridge, they’ll be six points behind their rivals. Emery will be desperate to avoid a second straight defeat. 

Probable line-ups:
Chelsea: 4-3-3
Arrizabalaga; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, David Luiz, Alonso; Jorginho, Kante, Barkley; Willian, Morata, Hazard.

Arsenal: 4-2-3-1
Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Sokratis, Lichtsteiner; Xhaka, Torreira; Ramsey, Ozil, Mkhitaryan; Aubameyang.

Prediction: Double Chance & Both Teams to Score – Home-Draw/Yes (1/1)
Arsenal were dreadful away from home last season (P19 W4 D4 L11) and they haven’t won at Stamford Bridge since October 2011. That is a long time! I’m expecting Chelsea to win here, but I suggest taking them on the Double Chance & Both Teams to Score at even money – it’s a safer bet and offers more value.

Written by Chad Nagel

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