Can the Gunners start 2018 with a win?

Arsenal host Chelsea in the Premier League at the Emirates Stadium tonight (7.45pm kick-off UK time).

The Gunners go into tonight’s match in 6th position in the Premier League table, with 38 points from 21 matches.

They are six points behind Liverpool, who occupy the final Champions League spot, after the Reds beat Burnley 2-1 at Turf Moor on New Year’s Day.

Arsenal have so far picked up five points from their three festive fixtures (1W, 2D).

A controversial late penalty awarded by referee Mike Dean denied the Gunners ending 2017 with a win. They drew 1-1 with West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns on Sunday.

Arsene Wenger has now been charged by the Football Association over comments made to match officials after the match with the Baggies.

It is alleged Wenger’s conduct in the match officials’ changing room was abusive and that he questioned the integrity of the referee.

He has until 18:00 on Friday 5th January to respond to the charge.

Chelsea are in 3rd position in the Premier League table, with 45 points from 21 matches.

The Blues have won four of their last five games – and can climb back above Manchester United into second spot with three points.

The reigning Premier League Champions are though a whopping 17 points behind runaway leaders Manchester City.

They have so far picked up seven points from their three festive fixtures (2W, 1D).

Antonio Conte’s side rounded off 2017 with a comprehensive 5-0 victory over Stoke City in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Chelsea have conceded just four goals in their last 12 Premier League games, keeping eight clean sheets on the way.

Head-to-Head

Arsenal will look to go unbeaten against Chelsea in a Premier League season for the first time since 2011/12 (W1 D1), while the last time they stopped them scoring was in 1998/99.

The teams drew 0-0 in the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge on 17 September 2017.

In all competitions, no team have won more away matches at Emirates Stadium than Chelsea’s five (level with Manchester United).

Key Men

Arsenal

Alexis Sanchez has had a hand in 13 goals in his last 15 Premier League London derbies (10 goals, 3 assists).

Chelsea

Five of Pedro’s last seven Premier League goals have come from outside the box.

The Managers

Arsene Wenger

Wenger took charge of his 811th Premier League game – more than any other manager in the competition (W468 D198 L145).

This is what Wenger had to say at his pre-match press conference yesterday on the challenge of facing Chelsea, the quick turn around between matches and his growing injury crisis.

“The gap (with Chelsea) is not big at the moment. We know that our home form will be absolutely vital and we just come home from West Brom frustrated because we lost two points.

“We know it puts us under even more pressure to deliver a big result tomorrow.

“We’ve played Chelsea many times and the results were always tight, apart from at home last year, we beat them 3-0. We’ve played them many times and they were always big battles.

“Chelsea are coming back into good form. They’ve been consistent recently so it’s a big challenge for us tomorrow.

“I believe that the Premier League is very even and very difficult for everybody. The target in 2018 is to win every single game, and the next one is Chelsea.

“We dedicate our time to recovery.

“To work a little bit today to prepare for tomorrow’s game. 80 per cent recovery and 20 per cent training.

“We have a squad that is equipped to deal with injuries – we’ve shown that in the Europa League and the Carabao Cup… but we cannot lose any more players now.”

Antonio Conte

This is what Conte had to say at his pre-match press conference yesterday.

“Every game against Arsenal is important. Tomorrow’s game is important and we’ll try our best to get the points. Arsene wants to do the same.

“I don’t like to complain! (about the festive fixture schedule). You need to give the same chances for all the clubs. Someone has to think and not close their eyes and continue this way.

“For us, it’s important, in my plan, to involve all my players. I think that they’ve done a really good job in this situation. All my players are working well. My main target is to have all my players at top form for the second half of the season.

“I think this league is very strong and physical. You can see a lot of contact with the players. This type of football is exciting. At the same time, the referee must pay attention if there is intention. In this case you have to punish the player with a red card. Referees must pay great attention.”

Team News

Arsenal

Mesut Ozil is a doubt after missing the 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion on Sunday with a knee injury.

Sead Kolasinac is out for two weeks, and Laurent Koscielny is unlikely to feature tonight, after both picked up injuries against West Bromwich Albion.

Nacho Monreal (ankle), Aaron Ramsey (hamstring) and Olivier Giroud (hamstring) all remain sidelined.

Chelsea

Eden Hazard is set to return after being rested for Saturday’s win over Stoke City at Stamford Bridge.

David Luiz and Charly Musonda are closing on a return to action and are likely to feature in the FA Cup third round tie against Norwich City at the weekend.

Match Officials

Referee: Anthony Taylor
Assistants: Adam Nunn, Lee Betts
Fourth official: Craig Pawson

Prediction

A draw for Arsenal to start the New Year – 1-1.