From left to right: Alexis Sanchez, Arsene Wenger, Antonio Conte, and Alvaro Morata, Photo Credit: Metro UK
Chelsea is set to face Arsenal in another London derby that would test their complete and rejuvenated lineups at Stamford Bridge on September 17.
The Blues recently won 2-1 against Leicester after impressive performances from Alvaro Morata and N’Golo Kante sealed the result. While a 6-0 drubbing of FK Qarabag gave their side an opening fixture win in the Champions League.
On the other hand, the Gunners got a comfortable 3-0 victory over AFC Bournemouth in their latest Premier League fixture. While they looked in danger of losing their first Europa League game at the hands of FC Cologne but a major second half change helped them grab a 3-1 win.
FW – Willian, Alvaro Morata, Pedro
MF – Marcos Alonso, N’Golo Kante, Tiemoué Bakayoko, Davide Zappacosta
DF – David Luiz, César Azpilicueta, Gary Cahill
GK – Thibaut Courtois
FW – Alexis Sanchez, Alexandre Lacazette, Mesut Ozil
MF – Sead Kolasinac, Aaron Ramsey, Granit Xhaka, Hector Bellerin
DF – Nacho Monreal, Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi
GK – Petr Cech
Chelsea’s depth is still an issue
From left to right: Andreas Christensen and Pedro, Photo Credit: Independent UK
Antonio Conte’s side can’t seem to shake their issues regarding the depth of their squad this year but this time in a good way. Antonio Rudiger’s emergence amidst captain Gary Cahill’s three game suspension could foster a healthy competition within the defensive third. While Davide Zappacosta surprised many with his effort and knowledge of Conte’s system when they won against Qarabag in their first Champions League game of the season. So, Zappacosta could continue to start ahead of Victor Moses since the latter failed to deliver in their FA Cup final defeat at the hands of the Gunners last season.
Meanwhile, Cesc Fàbregas stood out in their first Champions League match as well after he contributed to the buildup of their first goal and proceeded to set up César Azpilicueta for a header to give them a 3-0 lead. On the other hand, Eden Hazard continues to appear out of their bench to allow Willian and Pedro to flourish while he works his way up to regain his form from last season.
Yes, depth is still a problem for Conte’s side early in this season but it seems this issue has turned out to be a welcomed puzzle to have for the Blues.
Arsenal to switch to 4-4-2
Arsene Wenger, Photo Credit: The Sun UK
Arsene Wenger has this habit of playing his players out of position and his stubbornness got the best of him when his preference to play with a 3-4-3 formation backfired in their first Europa League fixture against Cologne. His side simply looked confused as if they had never even played before during the first half of the match.
However, it appeared Wenger saw the error of his ways after halftime and decided to switch to a 4-4-2 formation. The likes of Sead Kolasinac and Hector Bellerin both scored a goal after they returned to their natural positions as fullbacks to reward Wenger’s change of heart. While the decision also saw the dual threat of Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud wreak havoc.
Only time would tell if Wenger learned something from their previous matchup but after his triumphs with the use of the 3-4-3 formation in the FA Cup last season and the Community Shield recently, both against Chelsea, it’s highly unlikely Wenger would change his tactics. Unfortunately, his side’s five game losing streak at Stamford Bridge should be enough to bring in some changes but if he doesn’t, a loss to Chelsea on the road again should be a wakeup call for the Gunners boss.
Chelsea’s record at home against Arsenal should be a foreboding sign for Wenger and his team while the Gunners’ lack of cohesion recently puts a damper to their success. The return of Sanchez does provide Arsenal a glimmer of hope but if the Blues continue their reign of terror with the recent improvements of multiple players on their team, they might be well on their way to their fourth victory of the season.
Projected Outcome: Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal