Chelsea vs Arsenal: Preview & Combined XI
The pressure could be potentially heaped on Arsene Wenger’s shoulders in Sunday’s first Super Sunday clash as he takes his side to Stamford Bridge to face Champions, Chelsea.
Arsenal have a torrid record against last season’s top six failing to win in the last 13 outings to them as well as losing seven of their last eight at Stamford Bridge.
The Gunners have lost two on the bounce on their travels and have not lost three straight league away games since 1954.
Chelsea meanwhile, have looked more their usual self since losing on the opening weekend against Burnley.
Alexis Sanchez is fully fit to play Sunday after featuring in Thursdays win over FC Koln in which Theo Walcott (calf) limped off, whilst Santi Cazorla (ankle) and Francis Coquelin ( hamstring) are definitely out.
Chelsea’s only injury problem is midfielder Danny Drinkwater who is expected to be out until the end of October after sustaining a calf problem; Eden Hazard however, is in contention for his first start.
Arsenal’s last win against last season’s top six was a 2-0 win away at Manchester City back in 2015 and have since drawn five and lost eight on their travels against these clubs.
Chelsea have won their last five home Premier League games against Arsenal since 2011 and the Gunners have not kept a Premier League clean sheet away to Chelsea in twelve attempts.
Goalkeeper: Petr Cech (Arsenal)
There is no doubt Thibaut Courtois is now one of the best goalkeepers in the world, but Cech for me who of course is a former Chelsea favourite has to get the nod. The nine-time Czech player of the year is the all time clean sheet record holder in the Premier League and I felt I had to include him despite current form which you could argue a case for Courtois.
RWB: Hector Bellerin (Arsenal)
Whilst it has to be said Moses had a stellar season last year after it looked his Chelsea career was over, Bellerin for me is the better of the players.
The Spaniard scored in Arsenal’s 3-1 over FC Koln on Thursday night and will need a top display against Chelsea on Sunday.
CB: Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal)
The French international on his day is crucial for Arsenal and just about beats Gary Cahill in to this team. A solid performance from Koscielny could be the difference for the Gunners on Sunday and he will be pivotal in Arsenal’s chances.
CB: David Luiz (Chelsea)
My first 3 choices in this XI may have been Arsenal but unfortunately for Arsenal fans this is where it goes fairly Chelsea based! There is no doubt that most people and even Chelsea fans must have thought it seemed rather a panic buy from Chelsea when they re-signed David Luiz for a reported £34 million. However, lo and behold, the Brazilian international came up trumps last season and was crucial in Chelsea’s success.
CB: Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
Azpilicueta, or ‘Dave’ as he is known to the Chelsea fans has been an extremely versatile signing for them since arriving from Marseille for just £7 million, a fee which seems an absolute bargain with how good he has been. The nineteen-capped Spanish international can play anywhere across the defence has been utilised heavily in back three under Antonio Conte.
LWB: Marcos Alonso (Chelsea)
It was quite remarkable the impact the Spaniard had on his arrival to Chelsea. The fomer Real Madrid prodigy arrived last summer from Fiorintina for around £24 million and has started this season in fine form once again already scoring two goals.
Midfield: N’golo Kante (Chelsea)
Gary Lineker famously said before the 2016/17 season that if Chelsea were to sign Kante from Leicester City they would win the league which they ended up accomplishing. He has since been likened to former Chelsea midfielder Claude Makélélé due to his playing style and role. The French international has also been named in the PFA team of the year two years running.
Midfielder: Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea)
There is no doubting the ability of the former Arsenal man, he has been there doing it for years in the Premier League, minus his stint at Barcelona, he can easily control the play of any team he is in and is the second all time assist holder in the Premier League behind Ryan Giggs.
Forward: Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
Hazard has had his doubters in his time at Stamford Bridge in terms of the heights he will reach but there is no question he put them to sleep with an incredible 2016/17 campaign. Hazard is one of the best players in the world currently and will be a menace for Arsenal to defend against with the Belgian international in contention to start for the first time.
Forward: Alvaro Morata (Chelsea)
We haven’t seen enough of Morata and Alexander Lacazette in the Premier League so far this season to judge who will have the better season Morata has just edged it in terms of who I have been most impressed with so far. His clinical finishing and excellent movement will cause Arsenal problems on Sunday if he is at his best but equally it will be interesting to see how Lacazette does in the battle between the two.
Forward: Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)
Finally we have Chilean international Alexis Sanchez. One of the most talked about summer transfers which involved a reportedly ‘done deal’ for him to go to Manchester City, Sanchez remains professional and scored a wonderfully struck hit against FC Koln from outside the box on Thursday night. The Gunners would have been in real trouble this season if Sanchez was to leave.
I have actually been rather kind to Arsenal with this XI a lot would still argue Moses over Bellerin and perhaps Cech isn’t the ‘keeper he used to be. I don’t believe there is a case for Ozil in this side it would mean substituting Hazard or Sanchez which even Arsenal fans wouldn’t agree with. Then in terms of midfield I can’t find any case for putting Aaron Ramsey, Granit Xhaka or Mohammed Elneny, over the two chosen.