Sunday, September 17th. It’s going to be Blue vs. Red. North London vs. South London. Conte vs. Wenger. Yes, that’s right, that’s the sound of the first big London Derby of the season. The Gunners make the short trip to Stamford Bridge, on the back of a shaky start to the season. Arsenal have won two games and lost two so far, with the 4-0 defeat against Liverpool being the biggest disappointment so far. On the other hand, Chelsea have turned it around after losing on opening day to Burnley. 3 wins on the spin and Conte and Chelsea seem to be gaining confidence.
Prediction: 2 – 1 Chelsea win
Does Sanchez Start?
Right from the beginning of the season, rumors have swirled around Alexis Sanchez. Will he stay, will he leave, where will he go and so on. But the transfer window ended and Alexis stayed put. Arsenal fans can rejoice and can look forward to seeing him carry their team forward. But the big question this weekend is whether Wenger brings him into the starting eleven. Welbeck, Lacazette and Ozil have played well together in the 3-4-3 formation, but one would think that Sanchez would replace Welbeck but that would be harsh. Sanchez has not played much this season, but everyone knows that he can win a game on his own. It will be interesting to see what role Sanchez plays, especially after staring in Arsenal’s Europa League victory against Cologne.
Morata and Hazard Hold the Key to Chelsea’s Success
Last year it was Costa and Hazard running through opposition defenses and striking fear amongst defenders. Costa is gone but he has not been missed. Alvaro Morata has come in and taken to fish like water. 3 goals and 2 assists have been crucial in Chelsea’s recent run, but all this has been without Eden Hazard in the team. Hazard is Chelsea’s best player and his return will only strengthen the team. What all Chelsea fans have been looking forward to is how Morata and Hazard link up and whether they can be as deadly or even more deadly that the Costa-Hazard partnership. If Chelsea want to win important games, starting with this weekend against Arsenal, Morata and Hazard will need to start weaving their magic together.
The Midfield Battle Will Decide This Match
Chelsea and Arsenal are both expected to line up in the 3-4-3 formation. Identical formations usually lead to close and tactical matches. Therefore, key battle this weekend will be in midfield, and this is where Chelsea have the edge. Kante and Bakayoko are expected to start this weekend, with Fabregas providing cover from the bench. Arsenal though, only have Xhaka as a solid holding midfielde. Coquelin is out with a hamstring injury and Ramsey could start alongside Xhaka. This could result in a soft belly in Arsenal’s midfield, with Kante and Bakayoko clearly the stronger pair of the two.
Team News & Expected Line Ups
Home team Chelsea only have one injury concern so far, with Danny Drinkwater recovering from a minor calf injury. The rest of the squad is fit and ready to go.
Expected Starting XI – Courtois, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Rudiger, Moses, Kante, Bakayoko, Alonso, Pedro, Willian, Morata
Arsenal will be without Coquelin and Chamberlain who has moved to Liverpool on deadline day.
Expected Starting XI – Cech, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Bellerin, Ramsey, Xhaka, Kolasinac, Ozil, Welbeck, Lacazette
Chelsea 2 -3 Burnley (L) – PL
Spurs 1 – 2 Chelsea (W) – PL
Chelsea 2 – 0 Everton (W) – PL
Leicster City 1 – 2 Chelsea (W) – PL
Chelsea 6 -0 Qarabag (W) – Champions League
Arsenal 4 – 3 Leicester (W) – PL
Stoke City 1 – 0 Arsenal (L) – PL
Liverpool 4 – 0 Arsenal (L) – PL
Arsenal 3 – 0 Bournemouth (W) – PL
Arsenal 3 – 1 Cologne (W) – Europa League
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