Chelsea vs Arsenal preview, betting tips and predictions: Blues to open old wounds for visiting Gunners
Chelsea to win in both halves @ 9/5 with Betfair
Chelsea to win with a -1 handicap @ 21/10 with Betfair
Chelsea to win with over 2.5 goals @ 6/4
When two Premier League heavyweights clash, it is not usual to expect such a one sided affair, but such is Arsenal’s record in games against the top six, it is hard to look past a comfortable Chelsea victory at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
The Gunners went down 4-0 at Anfield a couple of weeks ago and the most worrying thing for their fans was it wasn’t an isolated incident. In recent years, the worst of Arsene Wenger’s side has seen them lose heavily at Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea. The issue isn’t with talent and quality either; tactics have been questionable in these games but the biggest issue is with the mental state of the players. They have been accused of not caring, but a severe lack of belief that they can go to places like Stamford Bridge and win is their downfall. Because Chelsea specialise in mental and physical strength, they should ease to victory. They will assert their dominance early on and control the game, but they will not score hatfuls. Game management is why Arsenal have not won at Chelsea since 2011.
We have tipped over 2.5 goals at 6/4 because of the form Alvaro Morata, who has scored three goals, is in and Arsenal’s dismal defensive record in games like this. But Chelsea have scored two goals in every game they have played in the Premier League this season, and provided Alexandre Lacazette and Alexis Sanchez are kept quiet, 7/2 for Chelsea to win with under 2.5 goals could offer good value.
But the primary bet is Chelsea to win in both halves, just as they did in the corresponding fixture last season in a 3-1 victory. The faster they start, the easier Arsenal will be to face because they will retreat to their goal; the best plan of action is to grab an early goal and force the visitors to chase the game and edge away with it, just as Liverpool did – 9/5 are sensibly short odds from Betfair, but given the right stake it could yield some good results. A -1 handicap in Chelsea’s favour at 21/10 is worth exploiting, given how the history books are crying repeat in this clash on Sunday lunchtime.
Key battle: Cesc Fabregas vs Granit Xhaka
Cesc Fabregas was once an Arsenal hero, but like so many others he left to win trophies. His relationship with Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has not always been smooth, but as time has gone on, he has become more and more important to the Italians cause at Stamford Bridge. He came off with 12 minutes to go in the victory at Leicester last week to be replaced by Eden Hazard, who is continuing his recovery from a broken ankle.
Whether the Belgian starts in this game or not, Fabregas is going to be key in the final third. With N’Golo Kante and Tieumoue Bakayoko in midfield, the Spaniard is given license to link up with his fellow countryman Morata in attack. Given there are fitness doubts over Francis Coquelin, Xhaka could stand in, and given Arsenal’s weakness just in front of the back four, this could be an area Chelsea can exploit with Fabregas pulling the strings. It will important Xhaka keeps his head, and because of his poor disciplinary record, he could be an easy target.