Gunners aiming to end winless streak against Blues
Gunners aiming to end winless streak against Blues

Arsenal host Chelsea in the Premier League at the Emirates Stadium this afternoon (5.30pm kick off UK time).

The Gunners go into the weekend round of matches in 4th position in the Premier League table with 10 points from 5 matches.

They are one place ahead of their visitors on goal difference in the Premier League table.

Arsenal are aiming to record a fourth successive Premier League wins for the first time since October 2015 (a run of five).

Chelsea come into the match having lost at home to Liverpool (1-2) and drawing away with Swansea City (2-2).

Arsenal will hope to keep 11 players on the pitch this afternoon. They were reduced to 10 men in both Premier League matches with Chelsea last season. Gabriel was sent off in the first encounter at Stamford Bridge and Per Mertesacker in the reverse fixture at the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners will also be looking to break a winless run of London derby home matches. Arsenal have failed to win their last five London derbies in the league played at home – they last went six without a win on home soil in October 1974.

Head-to-Head

Arsenal haven’t beaten Chelsea in the Premier League since a 5-3 win at Stamford Bridge in October 2011. That’s a run of nine matches for the Gunners without a win.

Only against Liverpool have Arsenal had a longer winless run without a win (12 matches between 1994 and 2000).

The Gunners have also failed to score in their last six Premier League games against Chelsea – their joint-longest such run in the competition (also against Liverpool between 1997 and 2000).

Chelsea haven’t lost on any of their last five league visits to the Emirates (W2 D3) since a 1-3 loss in December 2010. They have  conceded just one goal in that run.

The Blues have also won more Premier League matches since Arsenal’s move to the Emirates Stadium than any other away side (4).

Key Men

A lack of discipline has cost Arsenal dearly in recent encounters with Chelsea. Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi will be tasked with keeping Diego Costa quiet and with keeping their discipline in combating the abrasive Brazilian born Spanish International.

Arsenal will look to Alexis Sanchez at the other end for goals. The Chilean has found the net three times so far in the Premier League this season.

Diego Costa was the key figure in the two Premier League fixtures between the clubs last season.. He was involved in the incidents that resulted in Arsenal being reduced to 10 men in both matches. He also scored the only goal in the match at the Emirates Stadium.

Costa has scored five goals in five Premier League games this season, scoring each of Chelsea’s last three in the competition.

The Managers

Arsene Wenger

This will be Arsene Wenger’s 55th meeting against Chelsea as Arsenal manager in all competitions – he’s only faced Manchester United more with the Gunners (56).

He won’t be facing his nemesis Jose Mourinho, who he has failed to beat in a Premier League match.

He will be hoping for more luck against Antonio Conte who will be the 12th Chelsea manager Wenger has faced in the Premier League, more than any other club.

Tactically Conte has started the season using a 4-3-3 system and is likely to employ that again this afternoon. With Gary Cahill and David Luiz paired at the heart of the defence in the absence of skipper John Terry.

It’s a formation that Arsenal have struggled to cope with in recent matches with Chelsea.

Wenger is well aware of Arsenal’s poor recent record against Chelsea.

“It is an important game for us because we feel we are on the way up and Chelsea is a good test and a good opportunity for us to continue our progress,” he said. Chelsea in the last 10 years had very, very strong teams. You realise that today as well. Before that period, we were always beating them, after they were always the stronger team for a few years.  Now, it looks like it’s a new era where it’s a bit more balanced again and we feel we are progressing at the moment so we have a good opportunity to grab and to change what I call ‘the inconvenient facts’ of the recent years.  Chelsea have always come to the Emirates with a strong defensive solidity and to [try to] catch us on the break, because they know we like to take the initiative.  [Antonio] Conte has very strong players in transition, like Hazard, like Willian, like Diego Costa. For us to stop them, these three players, from being dangerous will be one of the keys of the game.  Another key will be keeping 11 men on the pitch, something we didn’t manage in two Premier League games against Chelsea last season. Yes, we talk about that because in the last two games, we’ve played against Chelsea with 10 men.  Of course for the result on Saturday it will be important the way we play football, but as well the way we behave, because discipline and results are strongly linked. The results we’ve had in the last two games are that we couldn’t play 11 against 11.”

Antonio Conte

Antonio Conte hasn’t gone three league games without a win since a run of four draws with Juventus in March 2012. He’s not lost consecutive league games since December 2009 while at Atalanta.

After conceding four goals in their last two matches Conte is keen for his team to be tighter at the back for their clash with Arsenal.

“When we conceded the goals, all the team conceded the goals and not only the defenders, said Conte.

“It means we must improve and work together to improve the defensive situations. This problem was already there last season because Chelsea conceded 55 goals, and we must work a lot on this aspect because if you want to challenge for a championship, you mustn’t concede so many goals.

“We are working to reach a level that is always high. It is normal when you start the work in a new team and you bring a new idea and methods that you need time, but I am confident about this and we trust in the work and I know we can improve a lot.”

Conte also hinted that Cesc Fabregas may start against his former club. Fabregas has been on the bench for Chelsea’s recent Premier League matches, but impressed with two goals as a substitute in the 4-2 extra-time League Cup win over champions Leicester City on Tuesday night.

“For Cesc this is a special game but the most important thing for Cesc now is that he is a Chelsea player and he is playing very well for Chelsea, said Conte. I am seeing him very focused and concentrated during the training and he played a good game in the cup. It is a possibility he can start [against] Arsenal. I have another day to make the decision.

We know tomorrow we face a good team and for sure they will fight until the end to win the title. Arsenal has good young players with great technique and good potential and organisation. They play good football.

This is a big game between two big rivals and it is important to play a good game after the defeat against Liverpool.”

Team News

Arsenal

Olivier Giroud toe faces a late fitness test on the toe injury that kept him out of the trip to Hull City last Saturday

Aaron Ramsey (hamstring), Per Mertesacker, Danny Welbeck and Carl Jenkinson (all knee) all remain on the sidelines.

Provisional squad: Cech, Ospina, Debuchy, Bellerin, Holding, Gabriel, Koscielny, Mustafi, Gibbs, Monreal, Coquelin, Elneny, Xhaka, Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Sanchez, Walcott, Iwobi, Lucas, Akpom, Giroud.

Chelsea

John Terry misses out with the ankle injury sustained in the 2-2 draw with Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium a fortnight ago.

Provisional squad: Courtois, Begovic, Ivanovic, Azpilicueta, Alonso, Cahill, Luiz, Kante, Matic, Chalobah, Loftus-Cheek, Mikel, Oscar, Hazard, Pedro, Moses, Willian, Batshuayi, Costa, Eduardo.

Referee

Michael Oliver. Arsenal are winless in their last eight Premier League games in which Michael Oliver was referee (D5 L3), while Chelsea are unbeaten in 13 with Oliver officiating (W7 D6).

Prediction

Arsenal to break their winless run against Chelsea with a 2-1 victory.

Save

Save

Save