Chelsea vs Arsenal
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Referee: Andre Marriner
TV: Sky Sports
Chelsea host Arsenal in a London derby, as the Blues seek to avenge their loss to the Gunners in the reverse fixture earlier this season.
Neither club has had the league campaign they would have hoped for at the start of the season; however, whilst Chelsea continue to put things right under Thomas Tuchel, Arsenal struggle in mid-table with Mikel Arteta. Arsenal are set to finish in their worst position this Millenium, with a top-half finish still under threat for the Gunners.
Chelsea head into the tie in full confidence, arguably the most in-form team in the league alongside Manchester United. They all but sealed their top-four place last time out, securing a 2-1 victory over soon-to-be Champions League final opponents Manchester City, denying the Citizens their league title confirmation with a last gasp victory. Despite both sides resting players and switching tactics, one must admit that it is advantage Tuchel heading into the final at this moment in time. The German has now done the double over Pep Guardiola this season, denying the Spaniard the FA Cup in the process.
Chelsea’s turnaround under Tuchel has been a fantastic watch, with a 5-2 defeat to West Brom the only standout blip in a near-perfect record. Chelsea’s transformation has been crafted through a revolution in defence, with Tuchel leading his London side to 18 clean sheets in all competitions since the German arrived in the capital. Contrasting this to the 54 goals leaked by Lampard’s Chelsea the season before, the difference is astronomical and more than proves why the German has been instrumental to Chelsea’s new-found success. With confidence high and plenty of silverware still to win this campaign, a win against neighbours Arsenal is the most likely result come Wednesday.
Whilst Tuchel has thrived upon his introduction to the English game, Arteta has struggled massively, and has arguably been exposed, now removed from the shadow of Guardiola. The Spaniard is set to lead Arsenal to their worst league finish in well over 25 years. The Gunners’ bright start under their former captain’s leadership after the restart last season was promising but short-lived, as the north London side have been a far cry from the European contending side of Arsene Wenger merely five years ago.
Arsenal’s best chance of salvaging their season was lost in midweek, as they bowed out of the Europa League at the semi-final stage to Villarreal, coached by former Gunners boss Unai Emery. Arsenal do head into the Chelsea tie off the back of a strong Premier League victory against now relegated West Brom. With ninth place the best Arsenal can realistically finish, there is little to play for, as they see out one of the most dismal seasons in the club’s Premier League history.
Arsenal’s opponents have secured 22 points from the available 27 in London derbies since Tuchel’s arrival, meaning Arteta has his work cut out for him against the Blues this week.
Mateo Kovacic could return to the matchday squad, whilst Andreas Christensen will be unavailable through injury.
David Luiz, Granit Xhaka and Pablo Mari are all out. Emile Smith Rowe is a doubt and could be sidelined. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could feature.
Predicted Starting XIs
Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Rudiger; James, Jorginho, Kante, Chilwell; Pulisic, Ziyech; Havertz
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Leno; Chambers, Holding, Gabriel, Saka; Elneny, Ceballos; Willian, Odegaard, Pepe; Aubameyang
Predicted Score: Chelsea 3-1 Arsenal
With the Blues in such fine form, this should be a routine victory for Tuchel’s side as they prepare for their FA Cup and Champions League finals come the end of the month.