Chelsea vs. Arsenal
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Kick off: 5:30PM
Unai Emery will be hoping to get his Arsenal tenure up and running at the second attempt when his side take on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge this evening.
The Gunners were well beaten by champions Manchester City on the opening weekend of the Premier League season, while this weekend’s opponents cruised to three points at Huddersfield Town.
The ease with which Chelsea came away from the John Smith’s Stadium with victory last weekend left new boss Maurizio Sarri wondering whether his side will click into gear sooner than he anticipated.
Rather than taking three or four months to adapt to his high-intensity style of play, the Italian admitted that the Blues may find their groove this side of October.
Time is not something that Chelsea managers tend to be afforded, of course, but even Roman Abramovich will have some sympathy for Sarri, who was appointed with less than a month’s preparation for the new campaign.
After the disappointment of finishing fifth last time out, softened somewhat by the FA Cup success in Antonio Conte’s final game in charge, Sarri has rolled out a new system, new style of play and has integrated some new players into the side.
Jorginho has adapted well to English football, helping to create attacks from deep and freeing up N’Golo Kante to play a little higher up the field, while Kepa Arrizabalaga kept a clean sheet on what proved to be a quiet debut in West Yorkshire.
Chelsea know that tougher tests lie ahead, however, including today’s showdown with fellow top-four hopefuls Arsenal. The Blues may have racked up passes galore against Huddersfield, yet it was a different story six days beforehand when being outplayed by Man City in the Community Shield.
While Sarri has spent the week celebrating his first three-point haul in English football, Emery has had to dissect Arsenal’s 2-0 loss at the hands of last season’s runaway champions Man City.
The Gunners, much like Chelsea a week prior, were unable to compete at times as the Citizens picked up from where they left off in 2017-18 by adding three points to their tally.
Returning to the top four of the Premier League is ultimately the main target for Emery. Against a Chelsea side also expected to challenge for a European berth, already this fixture could have a huge say in which of the newbie managers will have the last laugh next May.
Chelsea possible XI: Kepa, Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso, Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic, Pedro, Morata, Willian.
Arsenal possible XI: Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal, Torreira, Xhaka, Ozil, Ramsey, Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang.