Arsenal are hosting Chelsea on Sunday, with both teams looking to beat a rival early in the season. In the last 20 years, this fixture has been one of the biggest in the Premier League. It is the West London outfit that have maintained their place at the top of the division, with the Gunners in transition under Mikel Arteta. However, the better team doesn’t always win. Tottenham showed that last weekend when they overcame Manchester City. The home side will be looking to produce something similar to overcome one of the title favourites.
There are big problems in North London, following the opening day defeat to Brentford. The result was very poor, but the manner of performance was even more troubling. Arteta has had over 18 months to produce winning football and the team look like they remain in transition. Although the Gunners have spent big money this summer, it is difficult to see what the plan is under Arteta. Ben White, Martin Odegaard and Aaron Ramsdale aren’t signings that make you think they will re-emerge as a contender for the top four. They need a much stronger showing this weekend, or supporters may start to lose faith in their manager.
Chelsea started the season in electric form, easing past Crystal Palace. It was a dominant display and many believe they are capable of winning the league title this season. Thomas Tuchel has done excellent work since arriving in the capital. The signing of Romelu Lukaku adds another star to what is already an incredible squad. They will go into this weekend as the overwhelming favourites and it is difficult to see how Arsenal will be able to compete with them.
- Arsenal have only lost their opening two matches of the Premier League season on two previous occasions.
- Chelsea have kept 12 clean sheets in the Premier League since Thomas Tuchel took charge. No other team has kept more during this period.
It is likely that Bukayo Saka will return to the team after being eased back into action from the bench last weekend. There are a lot of issues to address for Arteta, but Saka is a player he can build his team around. The teenager showed his qualities both in defence and attack during the European Championships for England. Many wouldn’t have included him in the squad. By the end of the tournament, he was one of the first names on the team sheet and that underlines how good he is already. Last season, he contributed five goals and three assists in the league. He will be looking to improve these numbers significantly during the coming campaign. Chelsea do leave space in the channels due to the attacking intent of their wing-backs. Saka has the pace, trickery and intelligence to cause them problems when Arsenal are counter attacking.
Unlike Saka, Mason Mount didn’t get the fully show his quality during the summer with England. His tournament was interrupted by Covid and he will feel like he failed to deliver on the biggest stage. However, he is one of the most important players for Chelsea under Tuchel. It was no surprise to see him start last weekend, despite a shorter pre-season. His performance against Crystal Palace was all action. Mount attempted three shots and made three tackles, showing his ability both in and out of possession. Most impressively, he completed 96% of his passes. His quality on the ball was evident in the build-up play, as Crystal Palace couldn’t get near him. Arsenal are vulnerable at the back, as they showed last weekend. This is an opportunity for Mount to show his class in a big game.
It is hoped that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be back to feature for Arsenal after missing the opening game. Alexandre Lacazette is unlikely to feature. Willian won’t be available to face his former club. Martin Odegaard and Aaron Ramsdale weren’t signed in time to play.
Romelu Lukaku is available to make his second debut for Chelsea. However, Christian Pulisic has tested positive for Covid-19, which means he will miss out. N’Golo Kante and Hakim Ziyech are in contention to feature at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal need to be better than they were against Brentford. Under Arteta, they have had some good performances against the rest of the top six. That said, it is difficult to see they getting anything from the game. Chelsea are a much better team at the moment and they have a settled tactical set-up. If Lukaku starts and goes up against Ben White, he could cause the new Arsenal defender a lot of problems. The visitors will have enough to take the three points.
Arsenal 0-2 Chelsea