Arsenal V Chelsea
Sunday 24th January. 4PM. Sky Sports 1
All eyes will be cast to the Emirates on Sunday afternoon as high-flying Arsenal look to underlined their title credentials by piling more misery on bitter rivals Chelsea.
The visitors are already out of the title race, but the champions are improving under Guus Hiddink and the Blues could confirm their intentions to battle for a top four spot by beating this season’s best side.
This rivalry has become particularly feisty over the past decade, and we don’t expect this instalment to be any different. Prepare yourselves for a classic.
Champions Elect Out To Prove Their Worth
Arsene Wenger’s men enter the weekend atop of the Premier League table. If they can remain their with another three points on Sunday, then belief in the Arsenal camp will hit fever pitch. The incentive is there, and the Gunners certainly have enough quality to perform.
The hosts will be looking to the returning Mesut Ozil for inspiration once more. The German has been the architect of so much this season, and his assists have been gladly accepted by the likes of Oliver Giroud. With Chelsea’s backline looking particularly vulnerable, Arsenal have absolutely nothing to fear in the final third.
Meanwhile, after a terrible debut, Petr Cech has been brilliant since arriving from Stamford Bridge. Eyebrows were raised when Jose Mourinho sanctioned the sale last summer. If Arsenal do clinch the title, their goalkeeper will certainly deserve his medal. He should be fired up against his former club too, and that could have a telling influence here.
Arsenal have endured a difficult head-to-head record against the champions in recent years, but they’ve never had a better chance to register a win against the Blues. Expect a big performance from the champions elect.
Blues Bidding To Continue Resurgence
Nobody could have predicted Chelsea’s awful first half of the campaign. However, the departure of Mourinho has galvanised the club somewhat and they make the short trip across London in their best form of the campaign thanks to a seven-game unbeaten streak in all competitions.
Nevertheless, the holes in their armour are still clear for all to see. Conceding five goals in two home games is not like the Chelsea we’ve become accustomed to in recent years, and those issues have continued on the road too. After 10 matches away from Stamford Bridge, the Blues have won just twice.
A return to scoring form for Diego Costa is a major boost, as is Chelsea’s dominance in the fixture. At the Emirates, though, the Blues have won just one of the last six league games. It might take something extra special to register another here.
Can former Gunner hero Cesc Fabregas come back to haunt his ex-club? Whatever happens, it should be an absolute cracker.
Arsenal V Chelsea Betting
With home advantage on their side, Arsenal have been established as the pre-match favourites with Bet365 pricing them at 11/10. Chelsea, however, can be backed at 29/10 while the draw is available at 5/2.
Things have improved for Chelsea in recent weeks, but there it’s Arsenal that hold all the aces here. If they can get over the mental challenge, there’s no reason that they can’t give their title bid a serious boost on Sunday.
If they are going to do that, they need to assert themselves early on. Scoring first will settle the nerves, and we’re backing them to break the deadlock before half-time. Once their noses are in front, there should be no looking back for the Gunners.
HT/FT: Arsenal/Arsenal @ 12/5 with William Hill
Right now, the Gunners have far more in-form players to rely on. However, nobody has been as inspirational as Ozil this season, and a big performance against the champions could secure him the PFA Player of the Year award.
Questions have been raised over the German’s influence in big games. Expect him to put those suggestions to bed in style with a Man of the Match display.
Mesut Ozil to be named Man of the Match @ 15/2 with Betfred