Though this year has been awful it doesn’t get any better than this with a big London derby on boxing day. Chelsea is set to visit their fellow Londoners at the Emirates stadium in the latest fixture of the Premier League. There will be nothing less than a victory on the minds of both Mikel Arteta and Frank Lampard.
Both of them know that a victory will give them belief for the second half of the campaign. Arsenal’s troubles have very well documented this season. While Chelsea did show some spark but it was waived off with consecutive defeats to Everton and Wolves. They will be hoping to build momentum after victory over West Ham.
Last season the Blues managed a stunning 1-2 victory at the Emirates. If they again win this one it will be for the first time since 2009 that they have won back to back games at Emirates. Chelsea has just lost twice in the previous 17 games against Arsenal. Though in the previous three games the side that has scored the first goal did not win the game.
Arsenal has an excellent record on the boxing day; they are unbeaten in their previous twelve boxing days fixtures. While Blues had a better record of 14 unbeaten games, however, that was broken last season when they lost to Southampton 0-2. Chelsea hasn’t lost consecutive boxing day games since the 1994/95 season.
Under Mikel Arteta Arsenal were expected to play attacking expansive football. However, that has been far from the case. Rather they have been more pragmatic and defensive, especially in the big games. There are unlikely to be any surprise in this game as well.
Arsenal knows they will only have a chance in this game if they don’t concede. They are not the same team that defeated Chelsea in the FA Cup final this year. Thus despite being the away team, Chelsea is likely to attack and play with pressure and a high line.
Though when given the chance the Gunners will try to retain possession. In their recent game against Manchester City, Laccazatte managed to score from across. It is something that Arteta suggested to be Arsenal’s solution to the current goal-scoring woes.
Chelsea clearly has the upper hand as they have gained some confidence from the West Ham victory. Also, they had more rest than Arsenal, as the home team was involved in the Carabao Cup midweek. Frank Lampard’s side had four days of rest while Mikel Arteta’s side only has two days of rest.
Team News and Injury Update
Thomas Partey is not available for the game. Gabriel Martinelli was injured in the midweek clash against Manchester City. It is not clear whether he will be available for the game or not. Aubameyang was back in outdoor training but it is not clear whether he will play in the derby or not.
Hakim Ziyech won’t participate in this game, Frank Lampard has confirmed. It was reported that Recce James and Ben Chilwell could miss the game but Lampard hasn’t ruled these two out.
Ones to watch out for
Despite the troubling times, Saka has been a very good player for Arsenal. Tierney and Gabriel will be the key in defense. Though it is not clear whether Aubameyang will start or not but he is always a goal threat. Lacazzate sometimes pops up with a goal in the big games. While Berlin is also an experienced player, these two will be the players to watch out for.
Tammy Abraham scored the winner here last season and he is in fine form. Pulisic is capable of dribbling past the Arsenal centre backs. While Kante and Thiago Silva will be crucial for Chelsea’s defense.
Oliver Giroud has often won games for Arsenal after coming off the bench, he could do it yet again but this time for Chelsea. Werner may be going through a goal drought but he is still a threat. Matteo Kovacic can also play a key role. These three will be the players to watch out for.
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Head to Head
Arsenal and Chelsea have faced each other 202 times. The Gunners have won 78 times, the Blues have won 65 times. The rest of the 58 games have been a stalemate.
Predicted Line Ups and Prediction
Arsenal: Bernd Leno; Rob Holding, Gabriel Magalhaes, Kieran Tierney; Hector Bellerin, Dani Ceballos, Granit Xhaka, Bukayo Saka; Nicolas Pepe, Willian, Alexandre Lacazette.
Chelsea:Edouard Mendy; Cesar Azpilicueta, Kurt Zouma, Thiago Silva, Emerson Palmieri; N’Golo Kante, Mason Mount, Mateo Kovacic; Christian Pulisic, Timo Werner, Tammy Abraham
Match Prediction: Arsenal 0 vs Chelsea 2