Arsenal vs Chelsea : Five Battles to look forward to

Srinivasa Praveen
|Published September 23, 2016

Arsene Wenger will be celebrating his 20th year as an Arsenal Manager this week and he faces a Chelsea side at Emirates, a team he developed an intense rivalry with in the past 20 years. This would be 55th meeting against Chelsea for Arsene, second highest matches against an opposition. He has only faced Manchester United more than Chelsea with 56 matches. The Frenchman failed to win vs Pensioners in the last 9 Premier league matches and wants to change this poor record when Conte’s men visit Emirates this Saturday. We at The Sportsrush review the five battles to look forward to in Arsenal vs Chelsea

  1. Diego Costa vs Shkodran Mustafi

Diego Costa has started this season on a high by scoring 5 goals in the league so far. He is looking the like the old Diego, that helped Chelsea win the league in 2014-15. Without a doubt he will be the key ace for Conte this Saturday. On the other side, Mustafi has started his Arsenal career with solid performances at the back. He formed a good partnership with Koscielny and the pair is complementing each other well. But so far in his short Arsenal career, Mustafi has not faced a beast like Costa.

Diego is a constant threat and the physical battle between the both will be very crucial in deciding the fate of the tie. Diego will definitely target Mustafi with his physical strength and looks to continue the tradition of getting Arsenal defenders sent off. Also Arsenal have had 4 players sent off in the past 5 league games vs Chelsea and have been show red card 7 times, greater than any other opponent.

Mustafi needs to be at his best and should try to avoid committing silly mistakes in and around the box. He would be the one who will be given responsibility of marking Diego and in addition to this threat he also needs to stop the forward runs of Eden Hazard and Willian near the box. A mouth watering battle between these two will lighten up the Derby.

  1. Eden Hazard vs Hector Bellerin

After having a season to forget, the ex PFA player of the year, started this season just like he had ended the 2014-15 season. His creativity, pace and trickery will be crucial, if Conte’s side wants to bring back the league title to SW6. The one who will be taking up the responsibility to stop him, on contrary has started this season on a low.

After Mane got the best out of Hector on the opening day, he had recovered and put in some decent performances but was nowhere closer to the last season form, which earned him the applause and praise for being one of the best right backs in the premier league. Bellerin is crucial in building the attacks from the back and his clever forward runs are crucial for Arsenal’s success. But tomorrow, he would be faced with the task of stopping Hazard’s forward runs down the wing and stopping him from providing supply to Diego.

Both these exciting young players have good pace and will try to take on one another. Eden Hazard needs to be involved, If Chelsea wants to take away anything from Emirates. Even at home, they have suffered drastically vs Liverpool, when Eden Hazard struggled to get involved in the game, thanks majorly to good shift put in by Clyne. Bellerin will definitely try to keep Hazard on a back foot with his forward & overlapping runs. This is one of the five battles to look forward to in tomorrow’s derby.

  1. Fabregas & Xhaka. The midfield Battle

Even though the season is just 6 weeks older, Xhaka looks like a great signing by Wenger. Finally Arsenal midfield now have a solid tough tackler with a good passing range and an eye for goal from outside the box. He will be trying to dictate the game, sitting deep in the midfield and with Conte preferring a 4-1-4-1 formation, Xhaka will try to stop Matic and Cesc dictating the game from the center.
Cesc Fabregas, with that solid display vs Champions, clearly proved to Conte that he still has the eye for a key pass and can pull the strings from midfield. Clearly something that Chelsea lacked last week vs Liverpool. Kante will do all the hard work, covering each and every yard but someone like Fabregas is needed to open up the Arsenal defense with his passes and clever runs. If Cesc can provide good supply to Eden and Diego, then it will be a tough time for Arsenal defense.

Arsenal have failed to score in any of their last six league matches vs Chelsea and to change this they need their midfield to step up for the occasion. Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil need to have a good game. Mainly Ozil usually goes missing in big games and his record vs Chelsea is something to forget. Arsene will hope that his star midfielder will be at his best providing good supply to Alexis and Giroud, if he comes on in the second half.

  1. Chelsea Defensive Woes

Conte is still without club Captain John Terry and Kort Zouma. Both have recovered from injuries but lack match fitness to start the Derby. So Luiz will partner Cahill in the center of the Chelsea defence, which will excite Alexis and co. With Oliver still lacking match fitness, Perez will most probably lead the line for Gunners with Alexis and Iwobi playing on wings.

The Blues have conceded 10 goals in 7 matches in all competitions and coming up against the likes of Mesut & Alexis, a poor defensive outing could be their undoing. Ivanovic vs Iwobi & Cesar vs Alexis are two key battles on wings. Iwobi has impressed a lot since his debut last season and he is most likely to start over Theo. He has a good eye for goal and will be a constant threat, with his overlapping runs on the left and with Ivanovic not at his usual best, he can have a tough time.

Alexis will be crucial for gunners. His pace and goal scoring ability can be the difference between these two London sides. He will be changing positions with Perez and can cause all sort of problems to Luiz & Co. Luiz had a decent outing on his second debut for Blues but he will face an absolute beast in Alexis. Not only Luiz & Cahill needs to look out for beautiful threw balls but also needs to close down the Gunners attack, More space means more trouble for Conte’s men.

  1. Arsene vs Conte

Arsene will be facing 14th different Chelsea manager in Conte, when these two Managers meet on Saturday. Arsene’s record vs Blues can be divided into pre and post Roman era. Arsene did not lose a premier league outing vs Chelsea till 2005, a sequence of 17 matches, with 10 of them ending in victory.

After the quarter final loss vs Raineri’s men in 2004, Arsene has won only 5 times in the last 29 matches vs Chelsea in all competitions. On the other hand Conte had never gone winless in 3 domestic matches since 2012 and had not lost successive league games since December 2009. Both the managers need 3 points desperately and a loss for either team means 8 point lead for City at the top.

Arsene will be without Ramsey, Per and Welbeck whereas Terry & Zouma are notable absentees for Conte. A 4-3-3 vs a 4-1-4-1, with both mid fields boasting some match winners, another brilliant derby is on cards at Emirates. This will be the first official meeting between Arsene and Conte, and both will need to leave their mark on the match at Emirates. All of the above reasons make this the most intriguing of the five battles to look forward to Arsenal vs Chelsea.

My Prediction will be a 2-2 draw with Hazard and Diego scoring for Chelsea and Iwobi and Perez for Gunners.

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