Arsenal against Chelsea is always one of those special Premier League fixtures that seems to have that added edge, and with a new manager in the dugout at Stamford Bridge, this weekend’s game between the pair will be no different. These are a duo of talented squads who’ll be expecting to challenge for the title come May, and this game provides a real opportunity to throw down an early marker.
The form of The Gunners has dramatically picked up over the last few Premier League games. They have won their last three games on the spin, meaning they’ve forced their way into the top four which is a familiar sight for their fans. The run started with a 3-1 victory away to Watford, and they backed that up with impressive performances against both Southampton and Hull City.
Their opponents Chelsea have gone the other way. They started the season brilliantly collecting nine points out of a possible nine, but we’ve seen a dip over the last couple of weeks. They drew 2-2 away at Swansea City, and were then beaten at home by Liverpool thanks to an absolute stunner from Jordan Henderson.
Arsenal predicted line-up Chelsea predicted line-up
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Wenger has plenty of options for this one, but the big question is whether Granit Xhaka will start. The Swiss international will likely have to play from off of the bench again as Coquelin and Cazorla have been playing well. An injury to Olivier Giroud could see Lucas Perez start as the lone striker, with Alexis Sanchez shifted out wide.
I’d be surprised if we see any changes from Antonio Conte’s last Premier League game. David Luiz should keep his place in the starting XI as John Terry is expected to miss the clash with injury. N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic are two brilliant midfield enforcers, and they’ve probably done just enough to warrant a start despite an excellent Fabregas performance against Leicester.
Suspensions and injuries
In typical Arsenal fashion, the North London club are riddled with injuries and niggles going into their biggest game of the season so far. Aaron Ramsey’s hamstring injury seems to be ongoing, and there is no return date as of yet for the Welsh midfielder. Danny Welbeck and Carl Jenkinson are long-term casualties with a knee injury and an ACL problem respectively. Per Mertesacker has also been ruled out until the new year. Olivier Giroud is a doubt with a slight toe issue.
Chelsea’s captain John Terry is sweating on his fitness ahead of the visit to The Emirates, as his ankle injury looks set to keep him sidelined. Conte will be without the talented Kurt Zouma for at least another month after that horrific injury he picked up in the game against Manchester United last season.
It’s a tricky one to call, but you cannot look past the home side here. Arsenal have found their feet since that early home defeat against Liverpool and have looked pretty good since then. I’ll go for a narrow 2-1 victory with Perez and Sanchez getting another goal a piece. Costa will score late on for the visitors, but it won’t be enough for Conte and co.