Date: Tuesday 21st January 2020
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Kick-off: 20:15 GMT
My heart’s still aching a bit after the defeat to Newcastle at the weekend, but we go again tonight, this time at home to Arsenal. These games against sides in a poor run of form have come thick and fast – and our response for the most part, seems to be to give them all a breather from whatever poor run they arrive with. Ok, we didn’t let it happen against Burnley, but one game does not a season make – and all that.
After Newcastle, there was plenty of noise and calls for everyone from Kepa to Frank Lampard to be shown the door, and I get the reactionary stuff, if not because of the defeat itself, at least because of the manner of that defeat. The reality is, St James Park isn’t our favourite place in any season, never mind in a season where we’ve a manager new to the league, to the position in the club and to management itself realistically. Add to that the relative inexperience of some of our players, the weariness of maybe one or two more who may not even be in the positions they’re in if we’d had a transfer window in the summer – and then add the fact there’s no Eden Hazard bailing the team and the manager out either like the last couple of seasons – and that’s where the extended tantrums make less sense.
We’re not clinical enough up front, we know that, and Frank knows that, but this isn’t a new thing that’s just come about this season and it’s highly unlikely to be sorted within a season, so the only certainty is that there’ll be more inconsistency to come. Will that inconsistency show itself again tonight though? God only knows.
Arsenal are not so much running hot and cold, as tepid since Emery’s departure – and quite probably for similar reasons. Coming into this game off the back of a couple of draws, they also have Aubameyang suspended.
We should fancy this one really… shouldn’t we?
Going into tonight’s game, Chelsea manager Frank Lampard, says “This league is so competitive. I know that they [Arsenal] are a good team with good players. There has been a change when Mikel Arteta came in, we must be on guard and at our best. His effect is very quick and sudden, we felt that when we first played them. He is a good coach and he will get time.”
Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta “A lot of things have changed that are positive [since last month’s defeat by Chelsea]. The way we have changed the energy with our fans has been massive. In terms of results we have been unlucky. I loved the first 30-35 minutes against them and how much we wanted to put them under pressure. They changed the system and started to defend deep, and physically it was harder to maintain that energy. Against Chelsea that is vital. We will go with the same intention.”
For Chelsea, Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Achilles), van Ginkel (ACL), Christian Pulisic (adductor) are out and N’Golo Kante (hamstring) continues to be assessed. Marcos Alonso (thigh) and Reece James (knee) are expected to be in contention.
For Arsenal, Reiss Nelson (hamstring), Sead Kolasinac (thigh), Kieran Tierney (shoulder) and Calum Chambers (knee) are injured and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sits out the second game of his three-match suspension, whilst Sokratis (illness) will be assessed.
CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Kepa; James, Rudiger, Zouma, Azpilicueta; Kovacic, Jorginho, Mount; Willian, Abraham, Hudson-Odoi
ARSENAL (Possible line-up): Leno; Maitland-Niles, Luiz, Sokratis, Saka; Xhaka, Torreira; Martinelli, Ozil, Pepe; Lacazette
Chelsea 3-2 (18th August 2018)
CURRENT FORM (PL)
- Chelsea have won six of the past seven league meetings at Stamford Bridge, drawing the other.
- No team has won more Premier League away matches at Chelsea than Arsenal (7)
- Arsenal’s last league triumph at Stamford Bridge was October 2011.
- Chelsea have lost six of their past 11 top-flight games (W4, D1).
- Chelsea have lost eight times in the league this season
- Chelsea have conceded 10 league goals at Stamford Bridge this season – only Liverpool have let in fewer at home.
- Chelsea have won three of their four London derbies this season.
- Arsenal have won two of 10 league games since sacking Unai Emery
- Arsenal have dropped 13 Premier League points from winning positions this season.
- Arsenal are unbeaten in their last five top-flight matches on the road, albeit four of those have ended in draws.
- Arsenal have won just one of their last 10 away league games (D6, L3).
BBC Sport: Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal
Sky Sports: Chelsea 2-2 Arsenal
Sportsmole: Chelsea 1-1 Arsenal