Chelsea’s first game of 2018 is a London derby against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night.
The fixture back in September, at Stamford Bridge, didn’t produce a single goal and both teams will be hoping to pick up a massive three points this time around.
Arsene Wenger’s side have been fairly inconsistent this season. They currently sit in sixth place, seven points behind Chelsea, having already lost five games in the Premier League this season.
The Gunners also face an injury crisis going into this fixture, with Santi Cazorla, Olivier Giroud, Sead Kolasinac, Nacho Monreal and Aaron Ramsey all not fit to play. Meanwhile, Mesut Ozil and Laurent Koscielny are also doubts.
Chelsea have beaten Arsenal at the Emirates more than any other side, and the Blues should be confident going into this fixture.
Eden Hazard, who was rested against Stoke City, is expected to start and will cause a makeshift Arsenal backline all kinds of trouble.
Andreas Christensen should also be back to full fitness, having recovered from an illness, and will make that place at the heart of Chelsea’s defence his again.
The Blues have only lost one of their last 12 league meetings with Arsenal and will be hoping to build on that record on Wednesday night.
Antonio Conte rarely has his team constantly attacking in big away games, but he should do exactly that against Arsenal. Chelsea are more than capable of beating a side that has looked far from convincing this season.
- Arsenal’s 3-0 win in the corresponding fixture last season is their only victory in the last 12 Premier League meetings (D4, L7).
- Chelsea have won five away matches at the Emirates Stadium in all competitions, a joint high with Manchester United.
- Arsenal have failed to score in seven of the last nine Premier League encounters against Chelsea.
- There have been six red cards in the last seven fixtures between these sides in all competitions, with Chelsea having a player sent off in each of the last three.
- Chelsea’s only Premier League away win in the last four attempts came at Huddersfield on 12 December.
- Chelsea could lose three successive London derbies in the Premier League for the first time since October to December 2001, when they were beaten by West Ham, Charlton and Arsenal.
- Chelsea could become the first team this season to keep five consecutive clean sheets in the Premier League.
- This is Arsene Wenger’s 60th meeting against Chelsea in all competitions, making them the side he has faced the most as Arsenal manager (W22, D16, L21).
Predicted Line-up (3-5-2)
Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Cahill; Moses, Bakayoko, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso; Hazard, Morata
Considering the number of injuries Arsenal have in defence, Chelsea look like favourites on paper, but that was also the case before the FA Cup final in May. Chelsea rarely dominate big away games from home, and I can see this one ending in a draw. 0-0