Scotland V England Saturday 24th February. 4:45PM. BBC One Scotland v England renew their rivalry…
Chelsea V Arsenal
Saturday 19th September. 12:45PM. BT Sport 1
This weekend’s Premier League schedule starts with an absolute thriller at Stamford Bridge as the wounded champions welcome Arsene Wenger’s Gunners to SW6.
The derby between London’s two biggest clubs is always a huge affair but this edition seems to carry more importance than most. It’s a huge match for both clubs and each will be equally determined to grab the points.
Whatever happens, it should be an absolute cracker at the Bridge. Bring it on!
Can Blues On Midweek Champions League Victory?
Let’s not kid ourselves, it has been a disastrous start to the season for Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea. The Blues have made the worst start of any defending Premier League champion and, even at this premature stage, they already look out of the title race. Quite frankly, if they fall to another defeat against the Gunners, there could be serious questions as to whether they’ll even reach the top four.
The champions haven’t suddenly become a poor side over the summer, but the Blues are clearly facing a lot of problems right now. Those issues haven’t been helped by off-field matters, although they will take some comfort from their 4-0 demolition of Maccabi Tel Aviv on Wednesday night.
Chelsea will also take confidence from their record over Arsenal. Mourinho often tends to have Wenger’s card marked, and you’d expect the Special One to have something up his sleeve ahead of Saturday’s showdown.
The Blues haven’t seen days like this for a few years, but they are more than capable of pulling themselves out of the mire. Expect a big performance against their London rivals.
Gunners Hoping For A Repeat Of Season Opener
Ironically, it was the Gunners who started Chelsea’s poor form as they beat the Blues 1-0 in the curtain-raiser at Wembley. More importantly, though, that Community Shield win proved that Arsenal are able to beat their title rivals and Wenger’s men will be eager to fire another signal of intent by claiming a first win at Stamford Bridge since that memorable 5-3 win in 2011.
The visitors suffered a disappointing midweek defeat in Zagreb, but their overall form has been pretty solid in the opening weeks of the campaign. A win in this lunchtime fixture would catapult the Gunners into second, at least on a temporary basis, which would underline their aspirations as genuine title contenders.
While results have been good, there is a strong feeling that Arsenal haven’t hit top form yet. Star man Alexis Sanchez is still lacking a little sharpness after a long summer at the Copa America. However, the visitors will be pleased to see Theo Walcott back amongst the goals while goalkeeper Petr Cech will be eager to equal David James’ record of 170 clean sheets. How ironic would it be if he did it against his former club, especially with Thibaut Courtois currently sidelined through injury.
There are plenty of subplots happening all over the pitch. It should result in a cracking battle at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea V Arsenal Betting
Despite their poor start to the season, the champions are still considered slight favourite by the bookies with Bet365 pricing Mourinho’s men at 13/10 to get the victory. However, Arsenal certainly shouldn’t be ruled out at odds of 2/1 while a price of 12/5 will appeal to plenty of punters too.
Neither team can afford to lose this one. On the other hand, relying on defensive qualities is not an option that the two respective squad can afford to take given the current circumstances. Both units have seen their deficiencies highlighted in the last week or so, and we wouldn’t fancy backing either to keep a clean sheet.
Meanwhile, the attacking quality at both ends of the pitch does make us confident about goals. As long as there’s no European hangover, we’d expect both teams to create plenty of chances. The neutrals will be hoping to see goals, and that’s exactly where we’re placing our money too.
Over 2.5 match goals @ 4/5 with Bet365
The champions have disappointed in every department thus far, but last year’s PFA Player of the Year has come under the most intense fire. The Belgian has been short of form and will be bitterly determined to get his season up and running here.
Hazard is still one of the most talented attacking players in the league and will be Chelsea’s main attacking focus. It’s a big game for the 24-year-old and we’re backing him to have a massive impact. At 6/1, he could be a great shout for the end-of-match bubbly.
Eden Hazard to be named Man of the Match @ 6/1 with Paddy Power