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Arsenal vs. Chelsea: home sweet home

The Emirates will be full for a Premier League match for the first time in a year and a half.

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Arsenal v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Arsenal have waited second-longest of any team in the Premier League to welcome the full complement of fans back into the ground. Only West Ham, who play tomorrow afternoon, will have waited longer. The Emirates will be rocking today, full of Gooners itching to see Arsenal get one over on Chelsea.

The Gunners have played Chelsea quite well of late, managing their first league double over the Blues since 2003 last year and besting them in the FA Cup Final last August. It’ll be a different Chelsea squad, however, with the £100M man Romelu Lukaku leading the line instead of Timo Werner, who I’m still not sure knows what the goal looks like.

Arsenal have some late-breaking, unfortunate player availability news: Ben White is “unwell” and will miss out. Given the recent COVID-19 positives, it’s easy to speculate, but it has not been confirmed that White tested positive. Of the four positive tests earlier in the week — Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Willian, and Alex Runarsson — only Aubameyang has since tested negative and is available to play. He trained yesterday, but it isn’t clear whether he’s up to match fitness.

The Gunners will also be without Gabriel Magalhaes, Thomas Partey, and Eddie Nketiah. Gabriel and Nketiah aren’t expected back until September, after the international break. Partey should be back in training before the end of the month, but he’s looking increasingly less likely to be available for Manchester City next weekend.

Chelsea will be without several players for today’s tilt as well. Both Christian Pulisic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are in COVID protocol. The latter is particularly disappointing for me and for Arsenal, because I think Mr. Loftus-Cheek is owed a bit of a reminder of how utterly unnecessary and unsporting his late sliding challenge on Thomas Partey in a friendly was. Pulisic has said that he is fully vaccinated and feeling no symptoms. Hopefully all the players from both sides and across the league who have tested positive make speedy, uneventful recoveries.

Thomas Tuchel will have both N’Golo Kante (ankle knock) and Hakim Ziyech (dislocated shoulder) available. They were question marks earlier in the week.

PREDICTION: 2-1 to Arsenal. I’m feeling the home crowd lifting the Gunners to victory.

LINEUPS will be posted when available.

WHAT: Arsenal vs. Chelsea
WHERE: The Emirates
WHEN: Sunday, August 22nd 8:30 am PT | 11:30 am ET | 4:30 pm BST
US TV: NBCSN and Telemundo (SP).
STREAMING: fuboTV ($$$) and (TV provider log-in)

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