MISC

AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

STAR PREVIEW: Arsenal v Chelsea

Football fans are treated to a truly Super Sunday and Arsenal’s London derby with Chelsea has the potential to be one of the best games of the day. Arsenal will be hoping that Mikel Arteta brings some sort of stability to the club, but the task that the former Arsenal player has is a huge one. The departure of Unai Emery didn’t bring any sort of boost as Arsenal drew 2-2 with Norwich and then lost to Brighton, with a 2-2 draw at Standard Liege to seal top spot in their Europa League group and a 3-1 win at West Ham the bright spots.

Arteta’s first game, a 1-1 draw against Bournemouth on Boxing Day, saw some promising signs – in the first half hour Arsenal moved the ball with zest, and Mesut Ozil looked to be notably improved too; They also had more shots against Bournemouth (17) than they did in their previous two Premier League games combined (12 – six each v Everton and Manchester City).

However, their central issues – one of the league’s leakiest defences and a midfield which, Lucas Torriera aside, can be passed through at will – remain and the Bournemouth game was no different there. Bournemouth’s opening goal came from Bernd Leno and David Luiz coming under pressure when they attempted to pass out from the back, leading the ball to be given to 18 year old Bukayo Saka on the left wing; When Saka lost the ball, Callum Wilson made a clever run and laid off the ball to an overlapping winger, who slid in Dan Gosling to finish.

Arsenal, outshot Bournemouth but lost the shots on target, corners and expected goals count based on data from Between The Posts which is a worrying performance given Bournemouth’s dire recent form.

Chelsea’s problem has been consistency. Frank Lampard’s young side hit a rich vein of form in September and October, winning seven games in a row, but since then they have struggled to match that level. They have alternated between winning and losing their last six games, with two of the losses being home games when they struggled to create anything meaningful against either Bournemouth or Southampton.

Lampard’s had fewer shots than in any game since he took charge during the summer last week and whilst Mason Mount injected some late energy into proceedings, they were clearly second best.

But inbetween those two defeats, Chelsea arguably gave as good a performance as any under Lampard when they swept aside Tottenham 2-0. In a controlled and mature performance, Chelsea overran the Spurs midfield with N’Golo Kante dominating affairs in the middle of the park, whilst Willian took two extremely well deserved goals.

The three-man defence with Rudiger, Kurt Zouma and Fikayo Tomori performed fantastically but crucially Mateo Kovacic and Mason Mount were at their best in midfield.

Arsenal v Chelsea
Premier League
14:00 Sky Sports Premier League / Sky Sports Main Event / Sky Sports Ultra HD

HEAD TO HEAD RECORD*
(Maximum 10 matches, Since 2010)
MAY 2019 EUROPA LEAGUE FINAL Chelsea 4-1 Arsenal
JAN 2019 PREMIER LEAGUE Arsenal 2-0 Chelsea
AUG 2018 PREMIER LEAGUE Chelsea 3-2 Arsenal
JAN 2018 LEAGUE CUP Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea
JAN 2018 LEAGUE CUP Chelsea 0-0 Arsenal
JAN 2018 PREMIER LEAGUE Arsenal 2-2 Chelsea
SEP 2017 PREMIER LEAGUE Chelsea 0-0 Arsenal
AUG 2017 COMMUINITY SHIELD Chelsea 1-1 Arsenal
MAY 2017 FA CUP Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea
FEB 2017 PREMIER LEAGUE Chelsea 3-1 Arsenal

There are a number of angles into the game, but Chelsea arrive here eight points ahead of Arsenal despite losing five of their last seven in the Premier League. Chelsea’s inconsistency does make it a little header to support them but they are notably impressive on the road; only Liverpool have won more games away from home than Chelsea’s six and Chelsea have scored a huge 66% of their goals this season on their travels.

There’s the issue of Arsenal’s defending too – their clean sheet against Everton was their first in 14 games and the week after they gave Bournemouth ten shots on target. Those numbers against most sides aren’t sustainable and if Mikel Arteta is to succeed long term then he’ll have to change that. With both teams having conceded so much recently, it wouldn’t be a surprise if this was a high scoring game with a lot happening the specials could provide value.

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