This weekend sees two top four contenders face each other in Chelsea and Arsenal, offering a great opportunity for one to set an early marker. Both of these sides have lost to Liverpool already and it is important that they don’t suffer another defeat to a rival this early into the new season. Chelsea have had the better of the fixture over the last five years and will be hoping for the three points this weekend to put their title challenge firmly on track.
Arsenal have had a mixed start to the season and need to add consistency if they are to challenge at the top of the league. In the matches against Liverpool, Leicester City and PSG, the Gunners have looked ordinary and that will concern supporters. This weekend brings another chance for Arsene Wenger to impress against a big side and he needs to take it. The pressure is slowly building on him as the fans grow restless at their lack of success in the Premier League and a loss against Chelsea will only compound that. There hasn’t been a side to emerge this season that looks capable of challenging Manchester City, but Arsenal have the potential to do that.
The visitors had a hugely promising start to the season with three successive league wins before the international break. However a draw and a defeat since suggest that there is more work for Conte to do before they can be considered a top side once more. The defence has looked poor over the past two weeks and Arsenal could target that this weekend. David Luiz hasn’t looked great since returning to the side, while Gary Cahill has struggled during the last two games. Even if John Terry comes back into the team this weekend, Arsenal have the pace in their forward line to cause problems.
Despite their poor campaign, Chelsea still managed to beat Arsenal in both league matches last season, which will provide them with confidence this weekend. In the corresponding fixture last year, Chelsea took the three points, with Diego Costa scoring the only goal. Meanwhile at Stamford Bridge, Kurt Zouma and a own goal from Calum Chambers secured the home side a 2-0 win.
- During the 2015/16 season, Arsenal received three red cards in the two league matches against Chelsea.
- Arsenal have failed to score in their last six Premier League games against Chelsea.
The Arsenal playmaker has had a slow start to the season as he settles back into football after Euro 2016. It has been Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla who have been impressing over the first month of the season. However, Ozil is central to their attack and it is only a matter of time before he starts contributing on a consistent basis. He has incredible vision, which allows him to see passes that few others can. Chelsea will try and set up with a solid defence to combat the strength of the home side’s attack. They will look to frustrate Arsenal, making Ozil crucial this weekend. He is excellent at creating good opportunities and he will be able to get on the ball a lot against a Chelsea side that will be happy to give Arsenal possession. Although he has yet to supply an assist in the league this season, Ozil remains as one of the best at unlocking defences and he will be the biggest Arsenal threat on Saturday.
After a summer of being linked with a move away from West London, Costa has once again emerged as one of the best strikers in the league. He has five goals in the first five matches and it looks like his aggression is being managed in the correct way by Antonio Conte. There were concerns that the two would clash, but it appears to be the other way and Conte is having a positive effect on the striker’s form. It will be interesting to see how he performs this weekend. He was the match-winner last year, but there is always a possibility that his aggression will go too far and he will get himself sent off. Arsenal defenders will look to rile Costa up and it will be up to him to let his football do the talking. He is in a great run of form, but he needs to perform in the big matches, like the one this weekend.
Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey are both doubts this weekend for the home side. Per Mertesacker, Danny Welbeck and Carl Jenkinson remain on the injury list. Lucas Perez could be in line to retain his place after impressing in the EFL Cup.
John Terry is set to return to the squad this weekend, providing Antonio Conte with a timely boost. Kurt Zouma remains injured, but could finally be in line to feature again next month. Marco van Ginkel is the other player missing for Chelsea.
It is going to be a tight match, where Chelsea look to play on the counter-attack and they have the players to punish Arsenal when given the chance. The home side have struggled whenever they have met a good side this season and the pressure will be on them to prove they can beat a challenger. It is a crucial match, with both sides needing to avoid defeat, rather than pick up the three points. A loss would be disastrous for either side and for that reason, a draw looks to be the most likely result.