This coming weekend in the Premier League sees a full complement of matches taking place across Saturday and Sunday, with a nine or ten day break for teams following this game from league action as the FA Cup Fourth Round takes place the following Saturday.
As such, as with any slight break in the calendar, all the teams will be hoping to go into this longer than usual period without a Premier League game on the back of a win, particularly the teams at the top of the table, which now seems to number Manchester City and Liverpool, after Tottenham’s disappointing 1-0 home defeat to Manchester United last weekend.
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That game could prove especially costly for Spurs as not only was it Son Hyeong-Min’s last game before he departed to the Asian Cup, but in the last minute Harry Kane picked up an ankle ligament injury which has purportedly ruled him out until March, which means he could miss 11 games, including Spurs crucial Champions League Round of 16 first leg clash with Dortmund on the 13th February.
This weekend’s games though see the 23rd Matchday of the season and the action kicks off at Molineux with Wolves, who will be without the suspended Willy Boly, taking on an out of sorts Leicester City, for whom Claude Puel is believed to be under real pressure to keep a hold of his job. The majority of games take place at 3pm on Saturday with leaders Liverpool facing a tricky home tie against Crystal Palace, who beat Manchester City away over Christmas, while other games include Watford v Burnley, Man Utd v Brighton, Bournemouth v West Ham and Southampton v Everton.
However the big game of the weekend comes on Saturday evening at the Emirates Stadium as Arsenal host Chelsea in what could well be a pivotal game in deciding whether the Gunners have the quality to make the top four and earn that coveted Champions League qualification spot.
Arsenal v Chelsea Preview
Given how things have gone in the Premier League in recent weeks, this game has taken on an added importance for both the teams involved.
For the home side Arsenal, it is a must win game as they have been caught by Manchester United and are now level on points with the resurgent Red Devils, Arsenal’s slightly better goal difference being the only thing keeping the Gunners in fifth place in the table. Last week’s defeat to West Ham was a real blow to Unai Emery’s hopes of keeping close on Chelsea’s tail and keeping United at arms length.
Chelsea are a place above Arsenal in the table in fourth but are now six points clear of the Gunners. Furthermore, after their win last weekend, Chelsea are now just one point behind Tottenham in third place in the table and six and ten adrift of Manchester City and Liverpool respectively in the top two places.
For Arsenal then this is a game which is about them closing the gap on Chelsea and Spurs and staying ahead of Manchester United, while for Chelsea, this is a game about increasing the gap on Arsenal to nine points and heaping plenty of pressure on Tottenham in third place in the Premier League table.
Chelsea 3-2 Arsenal
The second game of the season for both these teams saw Chelsea roar into a two-goal lead in front of their home support with Pedro and then Alvaro Morata giving the home side the advantage. However, Arsenal regrouped and at the end of the first half, two goals in quick succession from Mkhitaryan and Iwobi pulled the Gunners level at half time.
In the second half, the game was much tighter and appeared to be heading for a draw until Chelsea full back Marcos Alonso turned in an 81st minute winner which handed the points to Chelsea.
Current Form – Arsenal
- V West Ham (A) – L 0-1
- V Blackpool (A) – W 3-0 (FA Cup)
- V Fulham (H) – W 4-1
- V Liverpool (A) – L 1-5
- V Brighton (A) – D 1-1
- V Burnley (H) – W 3-1
- V Tottenham (H) – L 0-2 (Carabao Cup)
- V Southampton (A) – L 2-3
- V Qarabag (H) – W 1-0 (Europa League)
- V Huddersfield (H) – W 1-0
Played 10, Won 5, Drew 1, Lost 4, Goals Scored – 16, Goals Conceded – 15
Current Form – Chelsea
- V Newcastle (H) – W 2
- V Tottenham (A) – L 0-1 (Carabao Cup)
- V Nottm Forest (H) – W 2-0 (FA Cup)
- V Southampton (H) – D 0-0
- V Crystal Palace (A) – W 1-0
- V Watford (A) – W 2-1
- V Leicester (H) – L 0-1
- V Bournemouth (H) – W 1-0 (Carabao Cup)
- V Brighton (A) – W 2-1
- V Vidi (A) – D 2-2 (Europa League)
Played 10, Won 6, Drew 2, Lost 2, Goals Scored 12, Goals Conceded 7
Arsenal (5-3-2) – Leno, Bellerin, Kolasinac, Koscielny, Papastathopoulos, Mustafi, Xhaka, Torreira, Guendouzi,, Iwobi, Aubameyang
Arsenal will likely adopt a more cautious approach with their usual 3-4-2-1 formationa adapting into a more defensive minded 5-3-2, with Torreira coming into midfield and Lacazette dropping to the bench to facilitate the extra body in midfield.
Chelsea (4-3-3) – Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Alonso, Luiz, Rudiger, Jorginho, Kovacic, Kante, Pedro, Willian, Hazard
I can’t see Mauricio Sarri making too many, if any, changes to the team that earned a win over Newcastle last weekend. I am not sure Barkley has done enough to get into the team ahead of Kovacic, while Eden Hazard will likely continue in the false-nine role in attack.
Arsenal v Chelsea Tips
*All the odds shown are with bet365 Sport and were correct as of 1.40pm on Wednesday 16th January 2019.
- Full Time Result – Draw – 5/2
There was little between these two teams when they met at Stamford Bridge in August and I think although Arsenal’s recent form is not great, their defeats have been on the road, while Chelsea’s away form has also been better than their home. I think home advantage hands Arsenal a slight edge but I can’t see them beating Chelsea, hence I think a draw is a good value bet.
- Correct Score – 2-2 – 11/1
The games between these two teams in recent times have tended to produce goals and I think there is enough attacking talent on show, plus also some defensive vulnerabilities, which mean that this game could well go a similar way to the others. I am sure this won’t be a 0-0, and while 1-1 is possible, I feel that an early goal will be scored and hence 2-2 may be a better option.