Arsenal Take on Chelsea in a Crucial Top Five EPL Clash on Saturday
There seems to be a shift in how things are at the top of the Premier League. The top two, Liverpool and Manchester City have now opened up a gap on Tottenham and Chelsea in third and fourth, while fifth placed Arsenal have dropped off the pace of their two London rivals and now hold onto fifth place by virtue of goal difference only.
The reason for that is Manchester United’s surge in form since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over the helm, steering the team to six successive victories, five of them in the Premier League and the last one an exceptionally good win on the road against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley.
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Therefore as we head into Matchday 23 in the Premier League, there is now a distinctive divide at the top of the table between first, second and third and fourth and also between third and fourth and fifth and six. Which makes everything somewhat interesting as we head deeper into the second half of the Premier League season.
This weekend the leaders Liverpool face a tricky home game against a Crystal Palace side who defeated Manchester City at the Etihad over Christmas, while Manchester City themselves face bottom club Huddersfield hoping to secure a win.
Spurs play Sunday in the London derby against second bottom Fulham, while Manchester United have the chance to put right their defeat to Brighton earlier in the season when they take on Chris Hughton’s men at Old Trafford. Other key games include Southampton’s clash with Everton, a real relegation battle as Newcastle take on Cardiff City and an intriguing clash as faltering Bournemouth take an improving West Ham.
However, the big game of the weekend comes at the Emirates Stadium where Arsenal will defend their strong home record against a Chelsea side that have dropped off the pace a little from the start of the season.
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Arsenal v Chelsea
After losing last week to West Ham United, Arsenal have dropped six points adrift of Chelsea in fourth place in the Premier League and with Manchester United now level on points with them, Unai Emery’s hopes of returning Arsenal to the Champions League next season now look in real trouble and as such, they need a positive result here in order to claw back some of that deficit to Chelsea.
The problem is that the Gunners have lost four of their last ten games, albeit those losses coming away from home but at home Arsenal have proven very strong with their only defeat at home this season coming against Manchester City on the opening day of the season.
Chelsea’s form is just a little better than Arsenal and they have had some problems in recent games, suffering defeat to Leicester, Wolves and Tottenham in recent weeks. Chelsea do seem to be struggling in attack where Eden Hazard is operating as an emergency striker, with Mauricio Sarri making it clear the Blues need to sign someone to play in attack during the Transfer Window (with Gonzalo Higuain the name most closely linked).
The teams last met on the second weekend of the season and the game at Stamford Bridge finished in an exciting 3-2 win for Chelsea. The home side took the lead after a fine opening 20 minutes spell which saw Pedro and Morata grab the goals for the home side but after that Arsenal bounced back well with goals from Iwobi and Mkhitaryan pulling the Gunners level before the interval.
The second half of the game was generally even but Chelsea had the better of the chances and late on it was left back Marcos Alonso who grabbed the key goal to hand Chelsea the victory.
Predicted Line Up – Arsenal
Having lost last weekend at West Ham, will Unai Emery ring the changes for the home game with Arsenal. Although Gunners fans love to see Lacazette and Aubameyang in the line up together, it hasn’t really worked as well in the tighter games and I can see the Arsenal boss slightly tweaking his team a little and perhaps playing an extra man in midfield with Torreira coming in and perhaps Lacazette being the man to drop out.
- Gk – Leno
- Dc – Papasthatopoulos
- Dc – Koscielny
- Dc – Mustafi
- DMr – Bellerin
- DMl – Kolasinac
- Mc – Xhaka
- Mc – Torreira
- AMl – Mkhitaryan
- AMr – Iwobi
- Ac – Aubameyang
Predicted Line Up – Chelsea
Mauricio Sarri will likely go with his tried and trusted 4-3-3 formation for this game, while the keeper, back line and attacking trio will likely pick themselves, there could be changes in midfield, although with this game being away to Arsenal, I think Sarri may opt for a more defensive minded midfield which would mean the likes of Ross Barkley and Callum Hudson Odoi starting on the bench, allowing Kovacic and Pedro to start.
- GK – Arrizabalaga
- Dr – Azpilicueta
- Dl – Alonso
- Dc – Luiz
- Dc – Rudiger
- Mc – Jorginho
- Mc – Kante
- Mc – Kovacic
- AMl – Pedro
- AMr – Willian
- AMc – Hazard
Arsenal v Chelsea – Tips
Let’s begin our tips on this game with the Full Time Result bet and remember, all odds are correct with bet365 as of 6.30pm on Wednesday 16th January 2019.
Full Time Result – Draw 5/2
Games between these two teams do tend to be entertaining and have produced a fair few goals of late. Arsenal have had the upper hand most often recently, but before that it was Chelsea that had a long run of better results. I think with everything on the line today, Arsenal won’t succumb to another home defeat but I also feel Chelsea are strong enough to avoid a loss too, hence a draw is the sensible option.
Correct Score – Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea – 13/2
Having back the draw above then it is a question of simply picking the right one of those available, while 3-3 or above seem to me to be far too high scoring, this fixture has tended to produce goals in recent times. I can’t see a repeat of the open game on the second week of the season and nor can I see this finishing in a 0-0 draw, which makes the 1-1 result the clearest and most obvious option.
Anytime Goalscorer – Willian (Chelsea) – 11/5
With speculation linking him to Barcelona, I feel Chelsea’s winger has been a little below his very best over the last few weeks, but the thing with Willian is that he does show up in the big games (something that is not always true of Eden Hazard) and I am backing the Brazilian to be a key man for Chelsea here and grab a goal, perhaps from a set piece.