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Arsenal v. Chelsea Preview: Welcome Home, Mikel

Arteta will look to secure his first win in front of the Arsenal faithful.

AFC Bournemouth v Arsenal FC - Premier League Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

I think it is safe to believe that Arsenal will be happy to see the back of 2019 as they host Chelsea for their final match of the [calendar] year.

It has been a rough one for the Arsenal — a year of woefully under under performing has led them to 11th place in the table. But, as the Gunners host their London rivals Sunday, [I very hesitantly say] there is reason to believe this could be a turning point.

Chelsea

Chelsea are in a bit of a rough stretch right now. They have dropped three of their last four games and five of their last seven. Chelsea are also coming off back-to-back home losses for the first time since 2011 after losing 2-0 on their Boxing Day showdown against Southampton. With Tottenham breathing down the neck of the Blues in the table, manager Frank Lampard will be motivated to take all three points at the Emirates.

When Chelsea have been winning this season, they have looked a real threat going forward. The Blues have 33 goals for in the Premier League (sixth overall) with striker Tammy Abraham boasting 11 of those. He is complemented by a strong supporting cast of American Christian Pulisic and Abraham’s compatriot Mason Mount who each have five goals between them.

The midfield for the Blues has not been bad either, and Mateo Kovacic is looking a completely new player this year. The Croatian midfielder missed the game against Southampton (yellow card accumulation) and will be back to face Arsenal this weekend. If you have not seen much of him this season - Kovacic is good with the ball at his feet and makes threatening runs in the build-up. His ability to work with his other midfielders like N’Golo Kante and Jorginho help Chelsea control the game in the middle third.

Arsenal

New manager Mikel Arteta will look to make things worse for Chelsea’s recent run of games. The Spaniard’s first tie against Bournemouth may not have been the result he was looking for, but the team looked strong. Our staff have made that point clear in case you missed it.

In all seriousness though, the Gunners had an identity that had been missing for a very long time under Unai Emery. I saw that glimpses of that identity return in the Bournemouth game. Arteta gave us a preview into what we can look forward to for the rest of the season — and against Chelsea on Sunday.

As mentioned above, Chelsea’s striking force will give Arsenal a handful to deal with. With an already injured defense that is missing names like Kolasinac, Holding, and Tierney — Arsenal will have to get creative to slow down Chelsea’s attacking.

Calum Chambers will return to the squad after serving his one game suspension for yellow card accumulation. However, I would not be surprised to see someone (i.e. Saka) out of position playing in the left-back role against Chelsea. Arsenal have a handful of players who are being assessed before returning from injury.

Arsenal are in poor form, with a record of 1-3-2 in their last 6 games. Their only win coming against a struggling West Ham team during that time. With a Manchester United fixture looming on New Years day, Arteta will have no time to settle into his role comfortably. All that said — I have faith in the new manager picking up the job quickly.

Some statistics between the teams I couldn’t find a place for elsewhere:

  • Chelsea are third in the table in away matches (6-0-3), while Arsenal sit 14th in the table at home.
  • While Chelsea have been good attacking, their defense has let in 27 goals — that is worst in the top six.
  • In the last six matches against Chelsea (in all competitions), Arsenal are 3-1-2.
  • Arsenal only have two wins since October 1st (2-6-4).

The Details

WHAT: Arsenal vs Chelsea

WHERE: Islington, London, England

WHEN: Sunday, December 29th, 6:00 AM PT | 9:00 AM ET | 2:00 PM BT

US TV: NBCSN
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