CHELSEA v Arsenal: Preview

Venue: Stamford Bridge
Date: Saturday, 19 September
Kick-off: 12:45 BST

After a relatively comfortable 4-0 Champions League win midweek, it’s back to the bread and butter of the Premier League today – or should that be stale crusts and dripping given our recent performances?
After woefully inadequate games against Palace and Everton, Jose Mourinho rang the changes for our Champions League game, dropping Ivanovic, Terry, Matic and Costa. Fabregas somehow survived the cull and Willian’s early injury brought a reprieve for Diego Costa. But whilst both Cesc and Costa looked a little livelier than of late, it was the replacements who really made the difference. Oscar looked as inspired as Hazard looked jaded, Baba and Azpilicueta brought balance to our back line and Rubén Loftus-cheek showed us exactly what Chelsea have up their sleeve for the future.
That was the Champions League though and without wishing to be disrespectful, Maccabi are no Premier League side. Although Arsenal are and they also managed to lose in Europe midweek.
Let’s not get carried away though because Arsenal are the champions of pre-season and Wenger lifted a ridiculously long losing streak against Mourinho in the Charity Shield, so he’ll be up for it today. The fact he dropped Cech and took the loss in Europe midweek testifies to how much today’s game means to him.

MANAGER’S VIEWS
Going into today’s early kick-off, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho responded to Steven Gerard’s recent gossip mongering, saying “I don’t have any problem with any one of my players. Normally when bad results happen the first thing that comes into your laptops, iPads and pens is to find a dramatic story: ‘Somebody punch somebody in the dressing room’, ‘The manager doesn’t want to speak with this guy’. You (the media) always go in this direction, which is funny. The other direction you don’t go is the direction which is real.
You lose matches, you are affected, you lose confidence, you don’t want the ball.”

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger meanwhile, says, “I do not think too much about where Chelsea stand in the league at the moment. I focus more on us performing well with full power. I respect everybody in the job and focus on what I love and that is football. All the rest honestly does not concern me much.”

SQUAD NEWS
For Chelsea, Pedro (thigh) and Willian (hamstring) are injured and Courtois is out long term following surgery. Falcao and Oscar (both knee) are given as doubts.
For Arsenal, Per Mertesacker is available again and Petr Cech should return after his midweek rest.

TEAMS
CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Begovic; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Terry, Rahman; Matic, Fabregas; Ramires, Oscar, Hazard; Costa
ARSENAL (Possible line-up): Cech; Bellerin, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal; Coquelin, Cazorla; Ramsey, Ozil, Sanchez; Walcott

LAST SEASON
Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal (5th October 2014)

CURRENT FORM
Chelsea: (league) DLWLL
(all competitions): DLWLLW
Arsenal: (league) LWDWW
(all competitions): LWDWWL

OTHER STUFF
~ We could lose 3 successive Premier League games for the first time since October 1999.
~ Jose Mourinho has never lost three league games in a row during his managerial career.
~ Mourinho has lost back-to-back Premier League games for the first time since May 2006.
~ Chelsea have already equalled their tally of 3 league defeats for the whole of last season.
~ This is our worst start to a top-flight season since 1986
~ Chelsea have conceded a league-high 12 goals this season
~ Arsenal have had a league-high 39 shots on target this season
~ Arsenal have won seven and drawn one of their last eight Premier League away games

PREDICTION
So, Chelsea are unbeaten in seven Premier League meetings against Arsenal but they have never gone eight top-flight games without a win against us – what does that tell you about the result?

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