Last updated & checked: 10/08/2021
There are plenty of subplots to the pick of this midweek’s fixtures, as Arsenal visit Stamford Bridge a little over three weeks after these clubs last met in the league. It will represent the sixth league game of Mikel Arteta’s managerial reign, 33% of which will have been against Frank Lampard’s Chelsea. The Blues, for their part, will be looking to rebalance their league form, which has been erratic; the weekend saw them lose to relegation-threatened Newcastle.
Arsenal have yet to show a distinct identity under Arteta, other than “slightly better than we were under Unai Emery”. Saturday’s home game against Sheffield United was never going to be easy, but the Gunners once again took a lead they could not hold. There is every chance they will be fielding the comedy defensive duo of David Luiz and Shkodran Mustafi here, which will be a fillip to Chelsea and to Tammy Abraham, whose early-season goalscoring form seems to have temporarily deserted him.
Chelsea vs Arsenal Prediction: Chelsea 1-1 Arsenal
This year’s Premier League has been full of moments that confound the pundits, with the weekend just passed having seen at least three shocking results, of which Chelsea’s was one. Looking on the surface, between Arsenal’s one win in five under Arteta and the result of the sides’ last meeting, this should be a home banker for Chelsea. Then again, the result at the Emirates was a deeply fortunate one for the Blues, who have had their own issues with consistency – and as the Gunners seem to be improving under the new boss, they could well pick up a point here.
Our recommended tip: Draw and BTTS
Even in the absence of striker and talisman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal were dominant against Sheffield United at the weekend, and with a bit more luck could have been out of sight long before the Blades’ late equaliser. They certainly have the players required to exploit the gaps in a green home defence. With the Gunners’ own back line as it is, though, they can never expect to keep a clean sheet, and although they’ll be competitive here, a second win for the boss will remain elusive. Unibet have 18/5 on the score draw – that’s worth a look.
Amid the festive fixtures, these sides met on the 28th of December at the Emirates in Arteta’s first home game as boss. The initial signs were good as the hosts dominated the first 30 minutes, taking a lead just before the quarter-hour through Aubameyang. They would hold on to that margin until the 83rd minute, when Bernd Leno fumbled a simple take at a free kick, giving Jorginho a simple tap-in. Worse was to follow when Abraham ran on to a pass in the penalty area, turned Mustafi inside-out and slotted the winner to send Chelsea’s London rivals home empty-handed.
Top 3 Premier League Bookies
Players to watch: Cesar Azpilicueta & Nicolas Pepe
Signed in the same summer as Eden Hazard, Azpilicueta’s arrival at the club attracted little fanfare, but he is now in his eighth consecutive season at Chelsea and is club captain. He’s more than that, though – a strong-running full-back whose primary instinct is to defend, but is comfortable getting forward as the situation demands. Particularly in the Lampard era, with a tranche of youngsters being promoted to the first team, the captain’s leadership and calm approach to the game have been essential.
In the first few months of the season, it would have been fair to look at Nicolas Pepe’s contribution and ask precisely why Arsenal had parted with £72million to get him on board. Right now, the signing of the Ivoirien winger is looking more and more like good business, with the departure of Emery seeming to free Pepe to play at the top of his game. A standout performance at the weekend deserved more reward than the draw his team managed, but there’s a feeling we’ve yet to see the best of him – in a good way.