It is no secret that Chelsea have become Arsenal’s bete-noir in recent seasons, and the Blues have not tasted defeat in this fixture since autumn 2011. The Gunners have not scored a league goal against Chelsea in any of the last three seasons, which really gets to the heart of the matter. There is plenty of rhetoric around this fixture about Chelsea ‘dominating’ Arsenal physically and ‘bullying’ them, but the reason for their recent stranglehold on Arsene Wenger’s side is less dramatic. Simply put, Arsenal’s football has not been good nor slick enough to disturb Chelsea’s well manned defence. The last three league games at the Emirates have finished 0-0, 0-0 and 0-1. Chelsea have not pummelled Arsenal into submission, but rather sparred with them while keeping them at arm’s length.
The big unknown going into this clash is Antonio Conte. Under previous Chelsea managers, their game plan at the Emirates was easy to predict. They would sit off Arsenal allowing them the majority of possession, while holding a deep defensive line and clogging up central areas. Conte though, has spoken in the past about his desire to prove that there’s more to Italian football than catenaccio and wants his players to press when possible. They were curiously passive against Liverpool last Friday, either by design or through sluggishness. With the Italian in the Chelsea dugout, this game might have a different pattern to the ‘usual’ Arsenal vs Chelsea game. We suggested three things Arsenal need to do to end their hoodoo.