Antonio Conte’s Chelsea welcomes Arsenal to Stamford Bridge following two successive defeats against Arsene Wenger’s team this season.
However, the second defeat, which had been a 3-0 loss for the Blues at the Emirates stadium had been a wake up call of sorts. With a switch to their current, more effective 3-4-3 formation, Chelsea suddenly found themselves nine points clear at the top of the Premier League table after a record breaking 13-game winning streak.
Arsenal, on the other hand, seemed to be experiencing yet another mid-season dip in performance typical of the Gunners. They lost further ground in their pursuit against Chelsea after they lost 2-1 at home to Watford mid-week. To make matters worse, their fiercest rivals were there to add insult to injury as Tottenham gained a point from a goalless draw against Sunderland to leapfrog Arsenal to second place in the table.
It is hardly difficult to point out Arsenal’s struggles. Against teams that Premier League contenders could have arguably swatted aside, Arsenal could only blame their own carelessness in the face of such teams — namely Watford, Bournemouth, Middlesbrough. Chelsea, by contrast, were only denied points by a single team outside the top six — Swansea City.
While one could argue that Arsenal would be able to muster something in the face of such opposition and the importance the match, it is undeniable that their squad looks ill-equipped for a title charge even if Chelsea’s points stayed the same for a month.
The Arsenal midfield is in the midst of a crisis. With Granit Xhaka out with suspension, Santi Cazorla’s continuing ankle problem and Wenger confirming Aaron Ramsey’s absence through a calf strain, on paper they are simply outnumbered by Chelsea’s squad which has far fewer suspension or injury concerns.
While Willian and David Luiz are amongst Chelsea’s bigger concerns going into the London showdown, should they recover in time the Blues would have a full complement of players available.
Chelsea (2) — (0) Arsenal