Can Arsenal Close the Gap on Chelsea?
Last updated: February 2, 2017 by Leon Marshal
|Coverage:||Sky Sports 1|
|Last season:||Chelsea 2 – 0 Arsenal|
|Competition:||The Premier League|
The Premiership is straight back this weekend after a full round of fixtures just a few days ago in midweek. Neither of the teams had ideal preparation in those games, but Chelsea will be by far the happiest with the point they took away from Liverpool. The Blues could have won it too, had Diego Costa been able to convert a second half penalty. Arsenal on the other hand fell to a shock defeat at home to Watford. With Chelsea drawing, that match represented a fantastic chance for Arsenal and all the other chasing teams to tighten the gap between them and and the league leaders. Of all 5 chasing teams, only Manchester City could manage a win, though Arsenal were the only team to lose.
Though Chelsea were perhaps not the best team last week against Liverpool, they could – and perhaps should – have walked away with all 3 points. A missed penalty from Diego Costa cost the Blues, who despite the dropped points, still sit 9 points above second place. Chelsea will go into this one once again with a full strength squad, as it becomes clear just how useful not being in other competitions is. A win here would put Chelsea a clear 12 points in front of Arsenal and probably end any hopes Arsenal may still hold of winning the title. There’s plenty of inspiration and motivation for Conte and Chelsea then, not that they need any extra. Though a win here won’t seal the title, it will put them a step closer and essentially rule out one of their biggest title contenders. A huge matchup awaits.
Arsenal are third but had they won against Watford they would be in clear second place and just six points off Chelsea. It was a poor performance in a match they were expected to win and many Arsenal fans have seen this all before. For many, an Arsenal collapse in the second half of the season is standard procedure and chants of same old Arsenal may be heard around the ground. It’s not all doom and gloom in North London though. The Gunners were on a 5 game unbeaten streak before the loss, although in fairness, they faced no teams in the top eight in any of those matches. Hector Bellerin returning will be a huge boost, as well as the likes of Theo Walcott being available for selection. Arsene Wenger has options then, but will likely field a lone striker, with Alexis Sánchez and Mesut Özil supporting, while Wenger himself could be somewhere in the stands, due to his touchline ban.
There are no new injury concerns for Chelsea to deal with. David Luiz appeared to pick up an inury at one point in the midweek match against Liverpool, but he finished the 90 minutes and is passed fit for this encounter.
Antonio Conte has generally stuck to the same starting 11 throughout the season. The main source of rotation seems to be between between Pedro and Wilian, with the Brazilian starting the last game.
Arsenal on the other hand have a number of issues in midfield. Ramsey and Oxlade-Chamberlain are doubts, while Cazorla is injured, Elneny at the African Cup of Nations and Granit Xhaka suspended.
Due to this, it’s very likely Alexis Sánchez will continue in midfield with Olivier Giroud up front, despite the ineffectiveness of this against Watford in midweek.
|Chelsea (3-4-3):||Courtois, Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill, Moses, Kanté, Matic, Alonso, Willian, Diego Costa, Hazard|
|Subs:||Begovic, Fàbregas, Zouma, Pedro, Batshuayi, Terry, Chalobah|
|Arsenal (4-2-3-1):||Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal, Coquelin, Ramsey, Iwobi, Özil, Sánchez, Giroud|
|Subs:||Gibbs, Pérez, Ospina, Walcott, Gabriel, Maitland-Niles, Oxlade-Chamberlain|
|Doubtful:||Debuchy, Ramsey, Chamberlain|
|Not available:||Xhaka, Elneny|
So far this season
|Chelsea this season||Arsenal this season|
|10 (8)||(at home) Wins (away)||8 (6)|
|5-0 vs. Everton||Biggest win||5-1 vs. West Ham|
|0 (2)||(at home) Draws (away)||2 (3)|
|0-3 vs. Arsenal||Biggest Defeat||3-4 vs. Liverpool||Diego Costa (15)||Top scorer||Alexis Sánchez (15)|
|Nemanja Matic (6)||Assist Leader||Alexis Sánchez (8)|
|Y46, R0||Discipline||Y37, R2|
|2||Failures to score||2|
|16||Both Teams to Score Games||16|
|14||Over 2.5 Games||16|
|9||Under 2.5 Games||7|
- Astoundingly, Chelsea have dropped points at home just once this season. Since that defeat, they’ve dropped points on just two more occasions. The omens seem bad for Arsenal then, but with one caveat. Arsenal were the team that beat Chelsea at home way back in September.
- These two teams have remarkably similar stats. Both have failed to score just twice, had 16 both teams to score games and a difference of just 2 matches in which over 2.5 goals were scored. The stats predict goals in this one.
- Interestingly, in the last five meetings, both teams have won twice and there has been one draw. There’s nothing to split the teams in this respect then, but Chelsea appear the stronger team this season.
- Arsenal have beaten Chelsea once already this season, but can they do it again. They will need to significantly improve their recent form if so. A surprising loss in their previous game at home to Watford is far from the preparation they would have wanted going into the match.
Head to Head
|Last 5 meetings between the two sides|
|Date||Competition||Game Result||First Goal-scorer|
|24/09/2016||Premier League||Arsenal 3 – 0 Chelsea||Sánchez 11′|
|24/01/2016||Premier League||Arsenal 0 – 1 Chelsea||Costa 23′|
|19/09/2015||Premier League||Chelsea 2 – 0 Arsenal||Zouma 53′|
|02/08/2015||Community Shield||Arsenal 1 – 0 Chelsea||Oxlade-Chamberlain 24′|
|26/04/2015||Premier League||Arsenal 0 – 0 Chelsea||—|
Conclusion & Betting Tips
It’s difficult to look past Chelsea here. Arsenal have to be up for this one, as their title hopes will essentially be ended with defeat, but the Chelsea machine of recent weeks appears just too strong. Especially at home, where the Blues have lost just once, although that was against Arsenal earlier in the season.
It’s still a tough clash though and due to this, you can Chelsea to win at 19/20 at Betway. But, we think Chelsea will have too much for Arsenal to handle and as such, will be backing Chelsea for the win.