Chelsea - Arsenal Preview: Motivation is key

Chelsea welcomes Arsenal to Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon coming off the back of a convincing win to open its European campaign. ...

Chelsea welcomes Arsenal to Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon coming off the back of a convincing win to open its European campaign.

Although the Blues are far from on a roll, Jose Mourinho suggests the midweek win over an inspired opponent gives us a vital confidence boost ahead of the London derby. In contrast, Arsenal fell to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Dinamo Zagreb on Wednesday, putting them in an awkward position in Group F alongside Bayern Munich and Olympiacos.

Our last meeting saw the Gunners lift the Community Shield at Wembley back in August. Prior to the 2015-16 season curtain raiser, Arsene Wenger had failed to oust Mourinho in 12 attempts across all competitions.

Recent history would suggest Chelsea is the favourite for this one, but current form throws up an interest twist. Arsenal will be hurting from its abysmal Champions League outing on Wednesday, whereas the Blues look in good nick having shaken off their poor domestic form to secure a comprehensive three points. With that being said, there’s no changing the fact Arsenal occupy fourth position on the Premier League table, while Chelsea dwell in 17th place.

Neither squad is significantly depleted by injuries or suspensions, and both managers have cause to experiment with personnel and tactics. Form aside, all signs point to another memorable Chelsea - Arsenal clash.

Chelsea Form

(W) Chelsea 4-0 Maccabi Tel Aviv (Champions League, September 2015)
(L) Everton 3-1 Chelsea (Premier League, September 2015)
(L) Chelsea 1-2 Crystal Palace (Premier League, August 2015)
(L) West Bromwich Albion 3-2 Chelsea (Premier League, August, 2015)
(L) Manchester City 3-0 Chelsea (Premier League, August 2015)

Arsenal Form

(L) Dinamo Zagreb 2-1 Arsenal (Champions League, September 2015)
(W) Arsenal 2-0 Stoke City (Premier League, September 2015)
(W) Newcastle United 0-1 Arsenal (Premier League, August 2015)
(D) Arsenal 0-0 Liverpool (Premier League, August 2015)
(W) Crystal Palace 1-2 Arsenal (Premier League, August 2015)

Last Five Meetings

Arsenal 1-0 Chelsea (Community Shield, August 2015)
Arsenal 0-0 Chelsea (Premier League, April 2015)
Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal (Premier League, October 2014)
Chelsea 6-0 Arsenal (Premier League, March 2014)
Arsenal 0-0 Chelsea (Premier League, December 2013)

Chelsea Team News

Willian will not feature against the Gunners this Saturday after suffering a muscular injury 24 minutes into the 4-0 win over Maccabi Tel Aviv. Mourinho has also confirmed a knock will prevent Pedro from seeing any involvement.
Radamel Falcao remains sidelined with a slight tendon problem, while Thibaut Courtois is still a long way from resuming his place between the sticks due to a torn meniscus.

Arsenal Team News

Olivier Giroud could be given a spell on the bench following his ill-disciplined sending off during the 2-1 loss to Dinamo Zagreb in midweek. His absence could see Wenger throw Theo Walcott up front in a bid to hurt Chelsea on the break away from home.

Jack Wilshere faces a long period away from the pitch after reports indicated he requires yet another operation, this time on a hairline fracture in his left leg. He’s expected to be out for around three months.

Tomas Rosicky, who hasn’t played for Arsenal this season, is likely to remain out until January with a knee injury. Likewise Danny Welbeck is expected to return in March once he recovers from a similar injury.

Probable Lineups

Score Prediction

The 4-0 thumping of Maccabi Tel Aviv is extremely welcome news for Chelsea players and fans alike, but hardly cause to believe we’re out of the woods just yet. Mourinho touched on the importance of breaking our losing streak in his post-match press conference on Wednesday evening – he’s spot on.

Apart from Eden Hazard continuing to falter in the shadow of his stellar form last campaign, the win gave rise to improved performances from a handful of our stars who’ve gone missing so far this season. Cesc Fabregas, Oscar and Diego Costa all made a significant contribution to sealing the three points. Furthermore, Baba Rahman produced a fantastic debut to prove shifting Azpilicueta to right back is a more than viable option.

This is a tricky fixture to follow a confidence-building win. A 4-0 victory over the Israeli champions could work both ways: some players will feel buoyed by the convincing performance, while others may think less of it simply because the opponents weren’t Barcelona or Bayern Munich.

If things go awry against Arsenal on Saturday, we could very easily feel we’re back to square one. In this sense, Mourinho faces a crucial task to motivate his men.

I believe we can come out on top with a 2-1 win. What are your score predictions?

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