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Arsenal vs. Chelsea: Predicted Lineup, Bench & Score

It might get worse before it gets better.

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

All the progress made this season is very difficult to recall at the moment. With fourth place well in their control, Arsenal has lost three straight league matches and looks more likely to finish 6th at the moment. Struggling with injuries and to find goals, Mikel Arteta’s side now must travel to Chelsea before returning home against Manchester United, a brutal combo that could see their season finished off unless they can find a reverse in fortunes.

Arsenal’s record against Chelsea in recent years is spotty, but not nearly as bad as one might think. Looking back to the start of the 2016-17 season, so the last six years, the Gunners' record against the Blues is 8 wins, 4 draws, and 5 losses. Last season Arsenal did the double over Chelsea by a combined 4-1 scoreline but fell 2-0 earlier this year at the Emirates. It’ll be a massive test for Arsenal to flip that result at Stamford Bridge, but the young guns are due for a breakout match.

Look for a Q&A with SB Nation’s Chelsea site We Ain’t Got No History coming ahead of the match this week.

Predicted XI

Bench

  1. Eddie Nketiah
  2. Pepe
  3. Rob Holding
  4. Albert Sambi Lokonga
  5. Bernd Leno
  6. Miguel Azeez
  7. Zak Swanson
  8. Omari Hutchinson
  9. Mazeed Ogungbo
  • Left Out: Kieran Tierney (injury), Thomas Partey (injury), Takehiro Tomiyasu (injury) & Alexandre Lacazette (COVID)
  • On Saturday, Arteta opted to start Eddie Nketiah in the similar role that Lacazette typically fills. And while the entire attack failed to break through, Nketiah wasn’t or isn’t going to be, the answer to these offensive woes. Instead of trying that again, against a much better Chelsea defense, go with Martinelli up top. His movement, in theory, would create more problems for their backline rather than Nketiah staying central.
  • Additionally, Arsenal needs Smith Rowe in from the start. Moving Martinelli up top allows Emile to start on the left and puts Arteta’s four best attackers on the pitch from the opening kick. Sure, Pepe and Nketiah will only offer minor addition coming in during the second half, but Arsenal simply can’t wait that long to give their offense its best chance.
  • After a few forgettable appearances, I didn’t think Tavares had a bad match against Southampton and probably deserved to stay on the pitch a bit longer. There is a case that Xhaka would be the safer pick at left-back against Chelsea, but again that leaves the midfield without Partey or Xhaka. And dropping Odegaard into that role really hampers his ability to influence the attack. Either way, I would call for a return for Mohamed Elneny. If Xhaka is at left-back you need a center-mid that will stay home to protect the center-back pair. If Tavares starts, Xhaka will naturally hover in that direction, in which Elneny is better to defend against Chelsea’s attack than tossing Lokonga back into the mix.
  • We haven’t seen the official team update ahead of this match, but it is very unlikely that Takehiro Tomiyasu will be available. And even if he was, I doubt Arteta immediately starts him on the road against Chelsea. Cedric is probably retaining the starting right-back role for both of these crucial matches this week.

How to watch

Wednesday (4/20) at 2:45 pm ET / 11:45 am PT on USA Network.

Prediction

Arsenal - 1

Chelsea - 3