Fixtures between Arsenal and Chelsea have proved pivotal in the past, with key clashes ushering in new eras or providing a catalyst for change.
One such meeting was last season’s affair at the Emirates, where the Blues were humbled 3-0 at the hands of the Gunners. The result persuaded Antonio Conte to change his side’s formation, with a switch to a back three kick-starting a run of 13 consecutive league victories which ultimately proved the platform for title success.
Football betting expert Dan Roebuck talks us through this one…
This time around, it’s highly unlikely either manager will come out of the game with a tactical eureka moment to implement for the remainder of the campaign, and given the bookmakers list the London duo at sizable odds (Chelsea 50/1, Arsenal 300/1) to overhaul Manchester City, there’s little to suggest either side will match the Stamford Bridge club’s sequence from last year.
What impact does that have on our preparation? pic.twitter.com/03ECT6xfHq
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 2, 2018
Instead, a five-way battle for three Champions League spots should keep Arsenal and Chelsea fans interested in league performances.
Conte’s team briefly climbed to second in the league after an easy 5-0 win over Stoke last time out and will leapfrog Manchester United again if they can land odds of 8/5 and claim a third straight top-flight win for only the second time this term – Arsenal are 7/5, with the draw 49/20.
It’s worth pointing out, though, that both of Chelsea’s away league defeats this term have come in London derbies (although they haven’t lost three in a row since 2001).
Numbers Game Could Fail to Add Up
In each of Arsenal’s last three home games, Arsene Wenger has employed a back four, picking up two wins and a draw. But the reversion to a back three against Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion arguably brought more fluent performances.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 2, 2018
It’ll be interesting to see which formation the Gunners boss will use on Wednesday night, although I get the feeling it’ll be three at the back, which will match up to Chelsea’s tried and trusted formation.
That could make for a stalemate – something we saw when the pair played out a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge in September. Another scoreless affair is priced at 23/2.
The Gunners have produced some of their best attacking football against other top six sides at home this term but with mixed results, and a more cautious approach might be expected in this game, with under 2.5 goals looking a fair punt at 6/5.
Contract Rebels Time to Shine
This, of course, is the first of a tripleheader between Arsenal and Chelsea, as they have been paired together in the two-legged semi-final of the Carabao Cup – the Blues are 11/4 second favourites to lift the trophy with the Gunners 5/1.
Squad rotation for those fixtures will make tipping in the player special markets ahead of the teams being announced tricky, but it is certain first choice line-ups will be retained for this game.
Two Arsenal players that could have productive outings are Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil. The Chilean can boast 10 goals in last 15 London derbies and, whether you believe he has upped his game recently to impress potential suitors or not, there is no doubt he still offers Arsenal’s best goal threat – back him at 5/1 to open the scoring and 17/10 to net in the 90 minutes.
Mesut Ozil, almost certain to return after a minor knee injury kept him out of the Gunners trip to The Hawthorns, will give Arsenal a much-needed boost in terms of creativity and, if he plays as well as he did at home against Tottenham, Manchester United and Liverpool this term, then the 11/5 he provides an assist could look a steal. The German averages 3.5 key passes per game in the league this campaign – a higher figure than any other player.
Refreshed Pair to Provide Profit
As both Tottenham and West Ham didn’t play over the weekend, the London duo should be well rested and look the pick of the Tuesday bets away at Swansea and at home to West Brom respectively.
Spurs are 7/20 to win at the Liberty Stadium – a venue they have never lost at – and have a won eight, drawn one, conceded one record against teams in the relegation zone over last 18 months.
At the London Stadium, Alan Pardew’s side will have to snap a winless run of nine on their travels if they are to shock West Ham, an unlikely scenario given David Moyes’ team, 22/25 to pick up the three points, are unbeaten at home in eight games versus the Baggies.