The most-anticipated Premier League game of matchday 7 sees leaders Chelsea play host to fourth-place Arsenal.
Another London derby that will have big implications at the top of the table. Victory for the hosts would give them a massive nine-point advantage over one of the pre-season title challengers. Anything less would allow Manchester City and co the opportunity to close the gap on José Mourinho’s side.
Form, injuries, manager’s head-to-head records – everything is in favour of Chelsea picking up three points on Sunday. Here are five reasons why the Blues will beat Arsenal this weekend:
1. Chelsea’s attack
Chelsea have scored an astonishing 19 goals in their opening six Premier League games this season – that’s more than three a game on average. Only defending champions Manchester City have held José Mourinho’s side to as few as one goal in any game this season.
Diego Costa is the Premier League top scorer with eight goals in six games. Only a serious or series or injuries will surely stop the Spaniard from ending the season without the Golden Boot.
Creating chances for the £32 million summer signing are the likes of former-Arsenal captain Cesc Fàbregas, Eden Hazard, Oscar, Branislav Ivanović and Willian. It’s enough to scare any defence. How can Arsenal cope?
2. Arsenal’s defence
Statistically Arsenal have conceded as many goals as Chelsea this season. The Gunners have only managed one clean sheet in their opening six Premier League matches though, and failed to shut out either opposition in their two UEFA Champions League group stage matches so far.
Last season the Gunners shipped 17 goals in their three away matches against the fellow top four sides. This included a humiliating 6-0 thrashing at Chelsea back in March. Kieran Gibbs had been sent off at 0-2 very early on.
José Mourinho already knows the four defenders Arsenal will use for this game because there are only four healthy ones available to Arsène Wenger.
3. Counter attack
Will Arsenal be foolish enough to throw numbers forward? Time and time again? If history repeats itself then yes. Wenger’s side don’t appear to learn from their mistakes.
Arsenal were somewhat fortunate that Tottenham were poor on the counter attack last weekend. Their North London rivals had several opportunities to create good chances with acres of space left by the Arsenal defence but only once did Mauricio Pochettino’s side stick the ball in the back of the net.
Will Arsenal be so careless this weekend? At 0-0 perhaps not, but if they’re chasing the game look out for gaps to open up. This Chelsea side have the quality to make full use of the opportunities too.
4. Mathieu Flamini
I wasn’t the only one calling for Arsenal to sign a top holding midfielder in the summer – Arsenal fans were pleading with Arsène Wenger. The French manager disappointed and instead the Gunners were left with Mikel Arteta. The captain is injured which makes it all that worse for the visitors.
Mathieu Flamini looks set to play in front of the back four which spells danger for Arsenal. He’s been exposed on a number of occasions this season and at fault for a few goals already, including Tottenham’s opener last weekend. With the quality running through this Chelsea midfield you can expect Flamini to be shown up in this match.
Wenger could play Jack Wilshere alongside Flamini as two men in front of the back four. It’s an improvement for sure, but the England international who has played this position several times before has previously shown us his position inadequacies, not to mention he’s prone to fouls and collecting cards too.
Arsène Wenger has been dealt a short hand heading into this match. Chelsea have only Ramires and Didier Drogba injured – neither whom are starters for the Blues this season.
Arsenal on the other hand are missing Mathieu Debuchy, Nacho Monreal, Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud from their starting lineup, as well as a few backups. You want your best players available for the big games and Wenger simply doesn’t have all of them this weekend.
6. Mourinho vs Wenger
These two managers have met 11 times in the past in all competitions, always when they have been in charge of these two sides.
It’s a one-sided affair with José Mourinho winning six, drawing five and remaining undefeated against the Arsenal boss. In the Premier League alone it’s W3, D5, L0. Chelsea picked up four points against Arsenal last season.
Anyone think Arsenal have a chance on Sunday?