Thursday, December 13, 2018

Prediction: Chelsea vs Arsenal

Milos Markovic in Free Soccer Predictions 9 Jan 2018

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Verdict: Both teams to score – yes

Best Odds: 7/11

Bookmaker: 888sport

Chelsea and Arsenal continue their three-match January battle with the second clash in just a week. Wednesday night will see London rivals lock horn in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final tie which promises to be a hotly-contested affair.

Chelsea

Meetings between Chelsea and Arsenal have become quite tense over the past couple of years and last Wednesday’s Premier League game most certainly maintained the standard given that we witnessed a pulsating clash which ended in a 2-2 draw.

Expectations are high ahead of this week’s clash as both sides head into the semi-finals knowing that this competition could very well be their biggest chance of landing a piece of silverware this season. Antonio Conte’s men needed a last-minute Alvaro Morata winner to see off Bournemouth in a nervy 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge to set up a tie against Gunners and Blues will need another inspiring display if they are to maintain their chances. The temperamental Italian Antonio Conte will undoubtedly instruct his players to do their best to get up back up on their feet following a disappointing goalless draw at Norwich in the FA Cup last time out. The Blues got stifled at Carrow Road and the rematch turned out to be the last thing they needed at this point in the season. Premier League race remains the top priority for reigning champions who currently sit in third but face a genuine struggle to keep hold of their top-four spot with Liverpool and Tottenham breathing down their neck.

Team News

Eden Hazard missed his team’s FA Cup draw but his ankle should be fine for Arsenal.

January signing from Everton Ross Barkley is out of contention through a groin injury whereas the Blues have no other concerns ahead of the match.

Arsenal

January is traditionally a tough period for Arsenal who are once again facing plenty of problems and headaches both on and off the pitch. With only one win in their last five encounters and disappointing 4-2 defeat at Nottingham still fresh in their memory, Gunners have only one thing on their mind ahead of the trip to Stamford Bridge.

Arsenal missed the chance to break into the top five and put more pressure on top-four contenders as they were forced to claw their way back for a 2-2 draw against Chelsea last time out. Wenger’s men failed to recover from a physically demanding challenge and ended up losing their FA Cup clash at Nottingham Forest afterwards. The Frenchman once again rotated his squad but without desired effect as a brace from Lichaj, penalties from Brereton and Dowell pushed his team out of the FA Cup. Arsenal qualified for the Carabao Cup semi-finals thanks to a 1-0 win over West Ham but are very much aware that the forthcoming challenge will require a clear mind and a top performance against a very strong rival.

Team News

Wenger faces a selection dilemma knowing that there are no less than seven players on his injury list.

Cazorla, Giroud, Kolasinac, Ramsey and Monreal are confirmed absentees whereas Koscielny and Xhaka are unlikely to feature against the Blues.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Chelsea won nine of their last ten home matches
  • Arsenal managed only one win in last five attempts away from home
  • Last three encounters between Chelsea and Arsenal ended in a draw
  • Arsenal could have up to seven first-team regulars unavailable for selection
  • Conte will continue with fringe players in Cup competitions

Conclusion

The hosts have no real selection issues but Antonio Conte had promised he would give his fringe players a chance once again. On the other side, Arsenal don’t have the luxury to calculate as they risk fan wrath especially at a moment when they are likely to lose their first-team star Alexis Sanchez to Manchester City.

Verdict: Both teams to score – yes

Best Odds: 7/11

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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