Arsenal picked up their second straight Premier League win to move up to 9th place in the table with just three matches to go. The win, Arsenals’ 15th, tops last season’s win total in the league. The Gunners can finish anywhere from 5th down to 13th in these final weeks of the season. Sunday’s trio of goals featured Emile Smith Rowe’s first Premier League goal (third overall this season), Willian’s first goal in an Arsenal shirt (to go along with his seven assists), and a rocket from Pepe, his 12th goal of the season.
It’s a quick turnaround as the Gunners make the short trip over to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday to face an in-form Chelsea. They’ve won four out of their last five in the league (including Manchester City this weekend), pushing them up to third in the table. During that stretch, they also outplayed Real Madrid over two legs to advance to the UEFA Champions League Final and beat Manchester City (again) in the FA Cup Semi-Finals.
Clearly, this is not a team Arsenal want to be coming up against at the moment. However, with the FA Cup Final just three days after our match against them, Thomas Tuchel might opt to sit his first-choice players. Their position in the top four is quite safe and honestly, Saturday’s match is far more important to them than this Premier League derby.
- Alexandre Lacazette
- Gabriel Martinelli
- Emile Smith Rowe
- Dani Ceballos
- Calum Chambers
- Mat Ryan
- Left Out: Eddie Nketiah, Reiss Nelson, & Alex Runarsson
- Out: David Luiz & Granit Xhaka
- Following the West Brom win, Mikel Arteta noted that while he hoped Luiz and Xhaka would be available for the Chelsea match it remained doubtful. On Tuesday we should get an update from the club. I’m not sure Luiz starts over Mari or Holding even if he is fit, but Xhaka surely would be back in the XI. If he is back he can finally plug into the midfield alongside Thomas Partey now that Tierney is fit and Cedric on the bench as the backup for left-back.
- Emile Smith Rowe left Sunday’s match with a slight issue in his hamstring. Hopefully, it isn’t anything serious, but with Martin Odegaard available, Smith Rowe can start this match on the bench. The Norweigian directing the attack as Pepe, Saka, and Aubameyang keep the Chelsea backline spread out and honest, could help Arsenal take advantage of what should be an open match.
- How nice it is to have a true left-back fit once again. This is the last ‘big’ match of the season for Arsenal and with it possibly the last time we see Kieran Tierney start until next year. Place him on the bench against Crystal Palace and Brighton and start Cedric, let’s just get Tierney into the summer break without another injury.
- We aren’t sure how the midfield will look next season, but we can guarantee that there are much better odds we see Mohamed Elneny in the preseason and the exit of Dani Ceballos. Elneny has started the last two Premier League wins and if Xhaka remains out he is a much better option at thwarting the Chelsea attack. Arsenal has a lot of movement needed in and out of the club this summer, including a new midfielder, but I’d be happy to have Elneny there as the 4th option next season.
- If Lacazette (17 goals) was, is, fully fit I can see Mikel Arteta opting to start Alexandre. But that would be to the detriment of Aubameyang who would likely get shifted out to the left and Pepe to the bench. Hopefully, instead, Arteta looks at Lacazette, Martinelli, and Smith Rowe as options in the second half if Arsenal is still looking for a winning goal.
How to watch
Wednesday (5/13) at 3:15 pm ET / 12:15 pm PT on NBCSN.
Arsenal - 1
Chelsea - 2
The Blues might be in form, but anything can happen in this London Derby. Who would you start on Wednesday and what is your prediction for the scoreline?