- Chelsea has lost just 1 of its last 14 against Arsenal
- Arsenal is unbeaten in its last 12 home London derbies
- Chelsea has won just 1 of its last 9 road matches at Big 6 clubs
A monumental battle in the chase for the Champions League places comes our way from the Emirates as Arsenal and Chelsea meet on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC or live online at NBCSports.com.
The two clubs are separated by six points, but with Chelsea in fourth and Arsenal in fifth, the pressure is on the Gunners to earn a result and keep the chase alive. Should Arsenal fall, it would leave them with a monumental mountain to climb and leave the door open for Manchester United to mount a chase of its own. If the Gunners prevail, however, they would be just three points back and in prime position to pounce on any more Chelsea slips the rest of the way.
The Blues have yet to sort out the striker position, with Alvaro Morata not expected to start given the rumors of his departure, but with few other options, Eden Hazard has been utilized in a false-9 role of late. Olivier Giroud could be an option off the bench, but his ankle injury might have the final say.
For the Gunners, Mesut Ozil is healthy but was left out of the squad against West Ham last time out and it’s unclear whether Unai Emery will recall the German playmaker. Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal are both expected to make returns from injuries, bolstering the beleaguered Arsenal back line, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan is still struggling for fitness.
What they’re saying
Emery on Arsenal table position: “After our loss to West Ham it is a big difference to be six points behind Chelsea instead of three points behind. But the next match is against Chelsea and the opportunity we have is not the same, but if we win we have the opportunity to be closer to them. And we can then continue our way in the 38 matches in the Premier League. Every player has this ambition.”
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri on winning close games: “We were superficial I think [against Newcastle] because we thought the match was won. Being superficial is one of the biggest problems a team can have, so we have to counter the superficiality. If you are winning 1-0, you cannot think that the match is easy. So you have to kill the match. Then you have to manage the match.”
These two teams are incredibly evenly matched, and even recent history between these two sides doesn’t give us much to go off. With all the pressure on the home side, Chelsea will likely be content to sit back and frustrate the Gunners, a strategy which has worked against Arsenal in the past. The Blues are excellent off the ball, and will use that prowess to pick its spots up front, finding the right moments to attack. The two teams will score, but Arsenal won’t find the result it is looking for in a 1-1 draw.