Friday, September 21, 2018

Prediction: Arsenal vs Chelsea

Verdict: Both teams to score – yes

Best Odds: 11/21

Bookmaker: 888sport

London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea kick off 2018 with a bang as they lock horns in first of their three clashes scheduled for January. Before they square off in a two-legged Football League Cup semi-final tie, Gunners and Blues will collide in a most important fixture of the three, however.

Arsenal

Gunners’ frustrating draw at West Bromwich on Sunday left them three points behind the Champions League spots and Arsenal will, without a doubt, be highly motivated to close the gap to the top four on Wednesday.

Arsenal will be extremely keen to bounce back from the WBA setback they have blamed referee Mike Dean for, following his decision to award a controversial penalty on Calum Chambers’ handball after his elbow made contact with Kieran Gibbs’ attempted cross in dying minutes of the match. Jay Rodriguez was successful from the penalty spot to deny Petr Cech with his milestone 200th Premier League clean sheet and, more importantly, rob Gunners their victory. Arsene Wenger, who marked the milestone of his own by surpassing Sir Alex Ferguson’s record with 811 Premier League matches managed, did not miss the chance to fire a shot towards Mike Dean himself. The Frenchman will urge his players to channel their frustration to the pitch and we should expect an energized Arsenal.

Team News

Mesut Ozil missed the WBA draw due to a knee problem but should be fit to feature against Chelsea.

Sead Kolasinac is also a fitness doubt after hobbling off the pitch at the Hawthorns, whereas Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla, Olivier Giroud and Nacho Monreal remain unavailable through respective injuries.

Chelsea

Criticized for the lack of consistency at the beginning of the season, Antonio Conte’s Chelsea appear to be back in business big time. The Blues kept a clean sheet in last four Premier League matches and will have a five-match unbeaten run in the Premier League to thank for overtaking Manchester United in second during the holiday season.

With a game in hand, Antonio Conte’s men are still 14 points adrift of City and currently below Red Devils, but will try to once again sit in second with three points at the Emirates. The 5-0 smashing of Stoke City on Sunday has been the best warm-up they could get for the high-profile clash against the fellow Londoners. Antonio Conte will find plenty of optimism in the fact Arsenal managed only one win in last 12 Premier League meetings between the two sides and will be extremely keen to kick off the three-match mini-run against Gunners on a positive note.

Team News

Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas and Tiemoue Bakayoko were all rested against Stoke and are expected to get back in the starting line-up.

Andreas Christensen is fully recovered from his illness and is set to start the London derby, whereas Davide Zapacosta is pushing for a starting berth. David Luiz remains sidelined with his knee injury.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Arsenal and Chelsea will play three games in January 2018
  • Arsenal shot-stopper Petr Cech is one clean sheet away from his 200th in the Premier League
  • Gunners won only one of last 12 Premier League meetings with Chelsea
  • Chelsea did not concede a goal in their last four Premier League matches
  • Blues won only one of their last 4 PL matches on the road

Conclusion

The Emirates clash is of huge importance for both Arsenal and Chelsea who will look to use three points against direct rivals as huge motivation for the second part of the season. The hectic New Year schedule brings first of three matches between the two rivals and arguably the most important one which will see both Arsenal and Chelsea go full force forward. Cech and Chelsea’s clean sheet record is bound to be put aside for this forthcoming fixture.

Verdict: Both teams to score – yes

Best Odds: 11/21

Bookmaker: 888sport

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Milos Markovic


Formerly a Chief Editor at the largest sports site in Serbia Sportske.net, Milos Markovic is an avid football writer who contributes to a variety of online football magazines - most prominently Soccernews.com and Futbolgrad.com. His feature articles, editorials, interviews and match analyses have provided informed opinion and views, helping the football aficionados keep up to date on relevant events in world football.

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