Chelsea v Arsenal
Premier League. Kick-Off: Saturday 18th August, 17.30pm, Live on BT Sport.
THESE two heavyweights matched up in pre-season in the International Champions Cup where it took penalties to split the teams. A fifth-minute opener for Rudiger was cancelled out by a 93rd-minute equaliser from the in-form Lacazette, before Loftus-Cheek missed the crucial penalty to send Arsenal away with the spoils. It must be noted neither team were at full strength though.
Last season the teams met on 5 different occasions, across the Community Shield, Caraboa Cup and Premier League. The standout stat in those meetings was the fact (in 90 minutes) the teams were inseparable in 4 of those 5 games.
This means 5 of their last 6 match-ups in all competitions have resulted in a draw. The only tie not to finish as a draw was Arsenal's home leg in the semi-final of the cup. A draw can be taken at 3/1 from bet365 and William Hill.
Interestingly, both games at Stamford Bridge finished 0-0 while the two games at the Emirates had 3 and 4 goals in them in a 2-1 Arsenal victory and a 2-2 draw respectively. Another goalless affair can be backed at Sky Bet and Ladbrokes at 14/1.
Clearly last season Arsenal had more success at home, shown by the fact they won just 4 league games on the road. A change in this form for Arsenal can be backed at 7/2 at Betfair while Chelsea are a fairly short 4/5 odds on at various bookmakers.
Saturday’s meeting represents Maurizio Sarri’s first home game in charge of the Blues while also being the first indication as to whether Unai Emery can change the Gunners' horrific fortunes on the road.
Eden Hazard came on from the bench against Huddersfield on the opening weekend and provided an assist for Pedro within just four minutes of coming on. He looks likely to start for the first time this season and is 6/1 to open the scoring at Betway.
On the other side, all eyes will be on whether Emery gives a start to Lacazette, either in a partnership with or as a replacement for Aubameyang. The latter remains the more likely of game time and is 13/2 to score first at Betway.
Arsenal fans will be hoping new boy Lucas Torreira will be fit enough to start from the off, while the goalkeeper situation still throws up a lot of doubt. New signing Bernd Leno looked set to take over from Cech as the No.1 but fine form in pre-season was rewarded with a start against Man City – much to the dismay of many fans.
At the other end, world record signing Kepa will be looking for back-to-back clean sheets with the Chelsea backline looking somewhat more stable.