Arsenal hosts Chelsea in a London derby full of implications in the race for the top four in the Premier League.

By 90Min
January 02, 2018

Arsenal host London rivals Chelsea looking to keep pace with the top four. The Gunners currently six points off the pace in fifth, and after dropping points at home to Manchester United and Liverpool in December, Arsene Wenger's men need to pick up a result against one of their top-six rivals to try and rescue their season.

Their visitors travel to the Emirates in much higher spirits, with Antonio Conte's men breathing down the necks of the two Manchester clubs and are in sterling form heading into 2018. 

After Manchester United's comfortable win at Everton on New Year's Day, the Blues will be looking for three points to take them back into second place and in pole position to capitalize on an improbable collapse from the blue half of Manchester.

Classic Encounter

The Blues' last trip to the Emirates in September 2016 was one to forget for Antonio Conte's men, as they suffered an embarrassing 3-0 defeat. However, it was notable for triggering the tactical change that would define Chelsea's season and their subsequent run to the title.

Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott scored in the space of three minutes to give the Gunners a two-goal lead inside 15 minutes. The advantage was nothing more than they deserved, as they were able to effectively capitalize upon the west Londoners' lethargic and sloppy defensive play. Mesut Ozil added a third before the break to leave the visitors shell-shocked at half time.

Image by Jordan Sen

Faced with damage limitation, Antonio Conte abandoned Chelsea's tried and tested 4-2-3-1 and switched to his favored 3-4-3 system, which had brought him such success at Juventus. Cesc Fabregas was sacrificed for left-back Marcos Alonso, and it had an immediate effect to stop the flow of attacks on Thibaut Courtois' goal, keeping the score at 3-0.

Following that game, Conte persisted with three at the back, and the Blues went on to record 13 successive victories - at the time a joint Premier League record - which was the foundation for winning the title at a canter in May.

Recent Form

Chelsea come into the game having recovered from their early-season blip, winning ten out of their last 13 games, with only one defeat in that run. The Blues remain two points behind second-placed Manchester United, having played one game less.

Arsenal have been wasteful in recent weeks, drawing four of their last six Premier League games. Failing to emerge victorious against the likes of West Ham, and Southampton, has left Arsene Wenger's men in fifth, six points off the top four.

Team News

Arsene Wenger could be without no fewer than six first team players, with Laurent Koscielny and Sead Kolasinac hauled off due to injury at the Hawthorns. Both defenders will be assessed before the game

Santi Cazorla, Olivier Giroud and Nacho Monreal remain out with long-term injuries. Mesut Ozil missed the trip to West Brom on New Year's Eve and Arsene Wenger seemed pessimistic about his chances of playing against the west Londoners. 

The Frenchman remarked that the German had 'little chance' of playing a part on Wednesday, according to the Daily Mail

Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas were rested for the 5-0 win over Stoke, and should return on Wednesday. Andreas Christensen missed the Boxing Day match against Brighton due to illness, and was an unused substitute against the Potters. 

The Dane should be available to start against their rivals. Otherwise, Antonio Conte has no new injury concerns ahead of the derby.

Predicted Arsenal Lineup: Cech; Chambers, Mustafi, Koscielny; Bellerin, Xhaka, Wilshere, Kolasinac; Welbeck, Lacazette, Sanchez.

Predicted Chelsea Lineup: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Morata, Hazard.


Chelsea are in great form and have a rested Eden Hazard primed to trouble the Arsenal back line, which is shaky at the best of times. The men from the King's Road have historically had a good record against their north London counterparts, and will be confident of continuing that on Wednesday.

In the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge in September, the Gunners produced a resolute performance to see out a goalless draw, and probably should've taken all three points with several missed chances. 

This time, however, Arsenal's injury problems and inconsistent form will play right into the hands of Antonio Conte, an expert in big-game management. The Italian and his charges will surely have too much for their depleted hosts, prevailing in a tight game.

Prediction: Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea

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