Chelsea favorites but Arsenal COULD spring a surprise.
Another London derby looms between two rivals whose recent meetings have been very eventful. While Chelsea had a rude awakening with an opening day 3-2 loss to league minnows Burnley, they have bounced back, winning three matches in a row while winning their Champions League opening day fixture. However, they would face a different kind of challenge in an Arsenal who has also bounced back from a crisis ridden transfer window with a comprehensive win against Bournemouth, and also winning in the continental fixture against Cologne. The Gunners will be buoyed by their recent glorious run against Chelsea with 3 victories in their last 4 games. However, their shambolic away record in the league and particularly at the Bridge makes it a difficult game for Arsenal.
Chelsea should field a 3-4-3 that has been their mainstay since the beginning of last season. Conte would have quite the selection headache having almost all options available, the only exception being new signing Danny Drinkwater (out until October). He would welcome back captain Gary Cahill back from a three-game suspension following an opening day red card against Burnley. He has also expressed doubts over winger Eden Hazard’s full fitness, however he has capable options in Willian and Pedro who would not shy from carrying the creative burden. However, he could opt to field his more favoured 3-5-2 with a midfield three of Cesc Fabregas & Frenchmen Kante and Bakayoko.
Arsenal could also field a 3-4-3 with Sanchez Lacazette and Ozil making up the front three. Big man Petr Cech is a shoo in between the sticks while Sead Kolasianc and Bellerin would take up the usual wingback spots. It would be in the central positions however that Wenger would have a lot of thinking to do as it is the performance in that central area that would be the ultimate decider.
In their last four meetings in all competitions, Arsenal have come out on top…thrice. Conte would hence be wary that the complacency that characterized the past two lossess doesn’t rear its head again. If he can, Arsenal would have a tough time getting anything positive out of today’s fixture.
3-1 to Chelsea FC.
Written by: Chukwukelu Nnamdi, @NnamdiJuugo.