After losing the FA Cup Final and Community Shield to Arsenal over the summer, Chelsea will look to set the record straight and extend their Premier League win streak to four games against the Gunners at the Bridge tomorrow.
The Blues are fresh off a comfortable 6-0 victory over Champions League opponents Qarabag in midweek which followed a hard-fought 2-1 win at Leicester last weekend that has put Chelsea just a point off the top of the Premier League. London rivals Arsenal have also won their last two games, with two wins at the Emirates over Bournemouth (3-0) in the Premier League and Koln (3-1) in the Europa League partly making up for an embarrassing 4-0 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield a couple of weeks ago.
Matchweek 5️⃣ Chelsea will host Arsenal this Sunday at Stamford Bridge! Come on you Blues! 🔵
Despite this meaning Arsenal are perhaps in slightly greater need of a result on Sunday, they have a slight edge over Chelsea if the last two meetings are anything to go by. This summer, Arsenal stole two trophies from Chelsea, lifting both the FA Cup and Community Shield at Wembley in games that each saw the Blues reduced to ten men. Chelsea will be looking to make amends and secure a victory tomorrow at Stamford Bridge, which would see them further pressurise Manchester City and Manchester United at the top of the Premier League. The game kicks off at 13:30 BST and will be broadcast live on Sky Sports.
Chelsea look to finally be back at near full strength this week, following months of questions over the Blues’ squad depth. Eden Hazard looks to be in contention for a starting spot for the first time this season, while new signing Davide Zappacosta has proven himself to be a fantastic alternative to Victor Moses after a great display in the Champions League on Tuesday. However, Danny Drinkwater has been confirmed to have an issue with his calf and will be out for around three weeks. Chelsea have also brought Jake Clarke-Salter up to the first team for more defensive depth.
As for Arsenal, Francis Coquelin suffered a hamstring injury and is out for three weeks, while Santi Cazorla remains sidelined with a long-term injury. However the biggest news is that Alexis Sanchez is back firing for the Gunners following heavy transfer speculation this summer. The Chilean came off the bench against Bournemouth last week, as well as starting and scoring in the Europa League match. He may well also start against Chelsea tomorrow.
WHAT THE MANAGERS SAY
Antonio Conte expects his men to perform against a top side like Arsenal and suggests his players should have added motivation given the recent losses against tomorrow’s opposition. The Italian insists that the two extra days that the Blues have had to prepare are no advantage in this match, and that Chelsea should still treat Arsenal like a top-6 team and expect this match to be a crucial one.
“This is a massive game when you play against Arsenal. The same against City, United, Liverpool, Spurs. There are six top teams and when you play it is a massive game. We have to fight and play against a rival.”
Conte also emphasised the fact that the last two meetings with Arsenal each saw a Chelsea player sent off, providing both reason for the defeats and a reminder to his players to remain disciplined at the Bridge tomorrow.
— Breathe Chelsea (@BreatheChels) September 16, 2017
Meanwhile, after some poor away displays in big games over recent years, Arsene Wenger has called for his side to understand that the expectations are no different when playing a game away from home.
“I do no really believe in [home-ground-advantage], I believe the pitch is 105 metres long and 68 metres wide everywhere and never in my life could I accept or understand that is it different away from home. It is just a question of how much you want it, no matter where you play. That is football. So it is a good opportunity to show that we have that quality.”
Chelsea are on a role with a 3-game league win streak and are finally at full strength again, including solid options on the bench. Arsenal’s last game against a top-six team was a 4-0 loss to Liverpool, and a 3-0 win against last-place Bournemouth can’t fully repair that. Regardless of an Alexis Sanchez return, I believe Eden Hazard will have more of an effect in his comeback and help the Blues to a 2-0 win.