Thomas Tuchel‘s hosts are all but assured of a top-four place following a 2-1 victory over champions-elect Manchester City last time out, while Arsenal kept their fleeting European hopes alive by beating West Bromwich Albion 3-1.
The Blues are third in the table before Wednesday’s game – although they could drop to fourth before kickoff – while the mid-table Gunners are languishing in ninth before the short trip across the capital.https://d-39853689622172072191.ampproject.net/2104302228000/frame.html
In what may have been a sign of things to come in the highly-anticipated Champions League final – wherever it may be held – Chelsea’s astonishing away record saw them over the line against soon-to-be champions Man City, who are still being kept waiting for the Premier League crown.
A 44th-minute effort from Raheem Sterling put Pep Guardiola‘s men into the ascendancy, but in the most untypical of Sergio Aguero fashions, the Argentine failed to build on his prolific record against Chelsea as his Panenka penalty failed to fool a grateful Edouard Mendy in the middle of the goal.
The Blues took advantage of Aguero’s mishap as Hakim Ziyech levelled the scores in the 63rd minute, and as the final whistle approached, Marcos Alonso scrambled home a late winner over the reaches of Ederson to propel Chelsea to a 2-1 win in the dress rehearsal of the European showpiece event.
The Champions League crown is of course the ultimate prize for Chelsea and the charismatic Thomas Tuchel, who also has an FA Cup final showdown with Leicester City on May 15 to take into account, but the Blues’ top-four standing is all but wrapped up and a derby win would cement their position among the big boys.
Chelsea welcome Arsenal to Stamford Bridge on a seven-game unbeaten run across all competitions – during which time they have shipped a mere two goals – and Tuchel’s side have found the back of the net twice in successive triumphs over Fulham, Real Madrid and Man City over the past few weeks.
The unforeseen 5-2 thrashing at the hands of now-relegated West Bromwich Albion has been the only blot on Tuchel’s Chelsea notebook so far, with the former Paris Saint-Germain boss overseeing 10 wins and five draws from his other Premier League matches in charge.
Notwithstanding their humiliation at the hands of the Baggies, Tuchel’s staunch defence have navigated 630 minutes of top-flight football at Stamford Bridge without conceding a goal, and they currently occupy third spot in the table before kickoff, but Leicester have the chance to temporarily leapfrog them when they face Man United on Tuesday night.
Furthermore, the Blues certainly seem to have a penchant for success against their capital rivals, as they have claimed 22 points from 27 on offer in London derbies this season, and the chances of them making it 25 from 30 seem pretty high against the Gunners and their wholly inconsistent nature.
Barring an end-of-season miracle, Arsenal’s 25-year spell on the continental stage will come to a bitter end in the 2021-22 campaign, and it is not just the much-maligned owners KSE who are coming under increasing scrutiny in North London.
Gunners fans once again protested against the American-led regime before Sunday’s Premier League battle with West Brom, but the pressure continues to pile on rookie coach Mikel Arteta, who is already planning for a major summer overhaul after a dismal season.
The Europa League represented the Gunners’ best opportunity to keep their remarkable European run going, but Unai Emery returned to the Emirates to conquer the team who relieved him of his duties as Villarreal easily nullified Arsenal’s toothless attack to dump them out 2-1 on aggregate.
A seventh-placed finish in the Premier League is surely out of Arsenal’s reach too, but they at least head to Chelsea on the back of a much-needed Premier League win, as a 3-1 triumph over West Bromwich Albion handed Sam Allardyce his first-ever Premier League relegation.
Emile Smith Rowe‘s well-worked goal preceded a thunderbolt from Nicolas Pepe and a stunning free kick from Willian – his first goal in an Arsenal shirt at the 37th attempt – and Arsenal managed to leapfrog Leeds into ninth by ending their Emirates drought.
A spot in mid-table is unacceptable for a club of Arsenal’s stature, though, with 13 Premier League defeats representing an alarming downturn since the glory days of Arsene Wenger, and they remain three points behind eighth-placed Everton having played a game more.
It is not entirely doom and gloom for Arsenal, though, as they travel to West London on a five-game unbeaten run in the Premier League away from home – scoring at least twice in four of those matches – and they now have a chance to win three in a row with three clean sheets on the road for the first time since May 2013.
The Gunners also have an unbeaten Stamford Bridge record to maintain, as they have managed to hold Chelsea to four consecutive draws in West London during midweek fixtures, and they are yet to lose to the Blues on a Tuesday or Wednesday night in the Premier League.
While all the signs may point towards a Chelsea triumph in this game, Arteta’s Arsenal have proven capable of springing a surprise against the Blues, who will have a chance to rectify their defeat to Arsenal in the FA Cup final last year both on Wednesday and in this year’s showpiece event against Leicester City a few days later.Chelsea Premier League form:
Chelsea boss Tuchel has conceded that Mateo Kovacic will not return in time to face Arsenal, and the midfielder is fighting to be fit for the FA Cup final as well.
The hosts’ only other injury concern is the rejuvenated Andreas Christensen, with Tuchel bemoaning the defender’s unfortunate thigh injury as he prepares to take his place on the sidelines for this game.
As he has done week in week out this season, Tuchel’s policy of rotation is set to strike again in midweek, with Kurt Zouma expected to take Christensen’s place as Thiago Silva enjoys an extended break.
Billy Gilmour held his own for 90 minutes against Man City but could make way for the returning Jorginho here, while Ben Chilwell could provide fresh legs on the left despite Alonso’s winner at the Etihad Stadium.
Arsenal, on the other hand, are expected to cope without former Chelsea man David Luiz as he nurses a hamstring issue, while Pablo Mari (ankle) and Granit Xhaka (groin) are not expected back just yet either.
Arteta confirmed that Smith Rowe was withdrawn against West Brom due to hamstring pain, and while it remains to be seen how serious the issue is, Martin Odegaard will almost certainly replace him at Stamford Bridge.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – the hero of last season’s FA Cup final against Chelsea – should earn a recall to the fold having fully recovered from malaria, and Alexandre Lacazette could feature up front as Gabriel Martinelli makes way.
Thomas Partey was also named among the substitutes in midweek so could come in to replace Dani Ceballos in the middle of the park, while Kieran Tierney should be fit enough to start at left-back, allowing Bukayo Saka the chance to rest.
Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Mendy; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Rudiger; James, Jorginho, Kante, Chilwell; Ziyech, Mount; Havertz
Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Leno; Chambers, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney; Partey, Elneny; Pepe, Odegaard, Aubameyang; Lacazette
Head To Head
Wednesday’s game represents the 203rd meeting between Chelsea and Arsenal in all competitions, with the Gunners boasting 79 wins compared to the Blues’ 65.
A 3-1 success over a Chelsea team led by Frank Lampard saw the Gunners stretch their unbeaten run against the Blues across all competitions to three games, but they have not won at Stamford Bridge since the 2011-12 season, when Robin Van Persie bagged a hat-trick.
Having overseen a win at the Emirates Stadium earlier in the season, 39-year-old Arteta could become the youngest manager to win both top-flight games in a season against Chelsea since then-Sheffield Wednesday boss Trevor Francis did so at the age of 37 in 1992.
We say: Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal
While Arsenal enjoyed success against Lampard’s Chelsea, they are yet to face the resilient and free-flowing unit marshalled by Tuchel, whose side are the clear favourites for this derby.
Arteta will continue to be scrutinised following every underwhelming result from hereon in, but the Spaniard’s side may simply be overwhelmed by Chelsea’s strength in depth and dogged defence, so we can only back the hosts to comfortably get the job done