Chelsea can maintain their excellent start to the season when they host London rivals Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on Sunday (14:05 BST, live on Sky Sports).
The Blues come into the match on the back of five wins and a draw in their first six matches of the Premier League season. They lead the way in the table and are also undefeated across the three cup matches (two in Europe) they have played to date.
Chelsea’s most recent league victory came at home to Aston Villa last weekend. Oscar gave them an early lead before further strikes from Diego Costa and Willian sealed a comfortable three points. Villa mustered just one weak effort on target in what was another strong and confident early-season performance from the Blues.
Jose Mourinho’s side finished third in the Premier League last season, four points shy of the eventual winners Manchester City. They had the best defensive record in the league by some distance, but were less effective at the other end of the pitch, particularly against sides who were content to do little more than sit back and defend.
Diego Costa has so far looked the perfect solution. He scored 27 league goals for Atletico Madrid last season and has started the new campaign in a similar vein, with eight goals in six league appearances. He is both strong and mobile and has already formed an excellent understanding with Cesc Fabregas (pictured) – Chelsea’s other major summer recruit.
Mourinho will definitely be without the injured Ramires (knee) but otherwise looks to have a full squad to pick from.
Arsenal have made a decent start to the season and are fourth in the table with 10 points from two wins, four draws and no defeats. They have won one and lost one in the two Champions League group stage matches they have played to date.
The Gunners drew 1-1 at home to Tottenham Hotspur in last weekend’s North London derby. They enjoyed the majority of the possession and did create some good chances but were far from their best against hard-working opponents. Spurs took the lead after robbing Mathieu Flamini of possession in the final third. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain equalised 20 minutes later.
Arsene Wenger’s side were, however, more impressive in their 4-1 thrashing of Galatasaray at the Emirates on Wednesday. Danny Welbeck notched a well-taken hat-trick, while another of the club’s summer signings, Alexis Sanchez, scored the other. Arsenal were quick and incisive in their attacking play, using their speed to get in behind the away defence.
Galatasaray did not pose much of a threat until Burak Yilmaz was brought down in the area by Wojciech Szczesny just past the hour mark. Szczesny was dismissed and Yilmaz calmly converted the resulting penalty. Wenger will be concerned that his defence has kept just one clean sheet in eight league and Champions League group stage matches so far this season.
Wenger will definitely be without the injured Aaron Ramsey (hamstring), Mathieu Debuchy (ankle), Mikel Arteta (calf), Olivier Giroud (ankle), Serge Gnabry (knee), Theo Walcott (knee) and Yaya Sanogo (hamstring) for the short trip to Stamford Bridge. Sanchez (ankle) and Nacho Monreal (back) are doubtful.
Chelsea v Arsenal Betting Tips
Chelsea recorded a commanding 6-0 victory in last season’s equivalent fixture, scoring three times in a thrilling opening 20 minutes in which Arsenal also had Kieran Gibbs sent off. The reverse fixture ended in a 0-0 draw. Chelsea have generally had the upper hand on Arsenal in recent encounters, having won four and drawn two of the last six meetings at all venues.
The Blues have been very strong this season and have lived up to their billing as the bookies’ favourites for the Premier League title. Last season’s thrashing of Wenger’s side will give them the psychological edge. Fabregas and Costa have settled in seamlessly and Chelsea will be confident of causing the Arsenal defence plenty of problems.
The midweek victory over Galatasaray and the recent Premier League win over Aston Villa showed Arsenal at their attacking best. On their day, players like Oxlade-Chamberlain, Welbeck and Mesut Ozil are capable of unlocking most defences. But with Ramsey injured and the defence looking far from solid, defeat is likely on Sunday.
- Five of Chelsea’s six league matches to date have featured three or more goals. They won the race to two goals in all five of those fixtures and will be confident of doing so once more against an Arsenal side who have conceded first in four of their six league matches to date. Back Chelsea to win the ‘race to two goals’ @ best odds of 17/20 with William Hill.
- Fabregas has made an excellent start to his Chelsea career, providing six assists in six league matches, and will be keen to make an impact against his former employers. Back Cesc Fabregas to be the man of the match @ 6/1 with BetVictor or Paddy Power.