Arsenal vs Chelsea: Match prediction and preview
It’s North London against West London as Arsenal host Chelsea in an all-important Premier League encounter.
Mikel Arteta will make his Emirates Stadium debut as manager while Frank Lampard will also be facing the Gunners for the first time as a manager.
Chelsea, despite starting the season on a positive note, have faltered in recent weeks. The Blues have lost three and won two in their last five Premier League games.
Lampard’s men did pull off an impressive win over Tottenham last weekend but fell to Southampton in midweek Premier League action.
Arsenal are undergoing their worst run of form in 42 years. Unai Emery’s lack of a coherent plan coupled with a shoddy defense condemned the Gunners to a winless streak that stood at nine games until the win over West Ham.
Things have been somewhat same since then as the Emirates Stadium outfit has drawn two and lost one since the win over West Ham. There is, however, optimism around Arteta’s appointment and a good performance today will help him in pacifying a borderline toxic fanbase.
Interestingly, Chelsea have lost more games (W10, D2. L7) than Arsenal in the 2019-2020 Premier League but are still in the hunt for a top four spot. The Gunners, on the other hand, are languishing in the bottom half due to a disappointing tally of five wins, nine draws and five defeats.
Arsenal’s issues at left-back will continue as both Kieran Tierney and Sead Kolasinac will not be fit for this game. Expect Bukayo Saka to play on that position. Gabriel Martinelli, Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding and Dani Ceballos will be assessed for this game. Sokratis Papastathopoulos will also be out due to concussion but Calum Chambers is back from his suspension.
Lampard surely has more luxury than Arteta in picking players for this game as only Reece James will not be available. Mateo Kovacic will also be back from his one-game suspension.
Bukayo Saka vs Willian
Willian put Tottenham to the sword as he feasted in the acres of space that was afforded to him by a slow Jan Vertonghen.
With Saka’s inexperience at left-back, Lampard will likely turn to Willian for creativity and attacking impetus. The Brazilian is one of the most experienced members of this Chelsea squad and on his day, a terror to deal with.
Arteta will have to instruct his left winger to track back and help Saka because Willian is clearly at an advantage in this game.
Granit Xhaka vs N’Golo Kante
For all his failings, Granit Xhaka does possess a superb passing range that can disorient opposing players.
The Swiss midfielder, however, needs time and space to spray his majestic long passes across the field.
Against the embodiment of energy that is N’Golo Kante, the most optimistic person would put Xhaka’s chances at a bare minimum.
The Swiss midfielder is error-prone when closed down and his mistakes often lead to goals. Do not be surprised if Kante and Chelsea would be looking to capitalize on the former Borussia Mönchengladbach man’s tendencies to create attacking opportunities.
Xhaka will also have to stick to his man considering that Kante’s offensive game has improved by leaps and bounds.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang vs Antonio Rudiger
While Chelsea look to be in better shape than Arsenal at the moment, the Gunners do have a bailout plan in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The Gabonese forward’s 12 goals are the reason why Arsenal is not in the relegation zone. Like he has done this whole season, Aubameyang again saved Arsenal in the draw at Bournemouth.
The former Borussia Dortmund striker relies on his pace and attacking instincts to trouble defenses. Antonio Rudiger does have the skillset to contend with Auba’s pace but marking him out of the game will be a tougher task.
In addition to the defensive troubles, Arsenal’s attacking output has also reduced significantly this season and the goals scored regularly, are scrappy to say the least. Dealing with Aubameyang in such situations will help turn the game for Chelsea.
The last five Premier League games against both these sides have been very close. Chelsea has won two, Arsenal one and two games have been draws.
At the Emirates, Arsenal has been victorious against its London rivals in the last two instances.
Considering the poor run of form for both clubs and Arsenal’s slight home advantage, this game should ideally end as a stalemate. Both sides will, however, find the net.
Predicted score: Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea