Chelsea have made a slow start to the season and face another difficult challenge when they host Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on Saturday (12:45 BST, live on BT Sport).
Chelsea were comfortable winners of last season’s league title but have struggled badly for form in the early weeks of the new campaign. They are a lowly 17th in the nascent Premier League table, with four points from one win, one draw and three defeats.
Jose Mourinho’s side overcame their domestic woes to record a comfortable 4-0 win at home to Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Champions League on Wednesday. Eden Hazard (pictured) missed an early penalty but to no longstanding effect as first-half goals from Willian and Oscar and second-half strikes from Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas secured all three points.
It was a welcome victory for the Blues. They have endured a difficult start to their league title defence and came into the match on the back of consecutive defeats at home to Crystal Palace and away to Everton. They have looked badly off the pace in domestic action and despite Wednesday’s win there are still a number of problems to be solved.
Chelsea had the best defensive record in the Premier League last season but have looked nowhere near as solid this time around. The midfield have not been able to provide adequate protection, while an ageing defence has been out-paced and out-witted on numerous occasions. What’s more, their attack is also yet to really get going.
Mourinho will definitely be without the injured Pedro (thigh), Thibaut Courtois (knee) and Willian (muscle). Radamel Falcao Garcia is expected to recover from the knock that saw him miss out against Maccabi Tel Aviv on Wednesday.
Arsenal finished third in the Premier League last season and despite limited transfer activity over the summer have made a solid start to the new campaign. They are 13 places higher that Chelsea, sitting fourth in the table, with 10 points from three wins, one draw and a defeat. They are now second-favourites in the outright winner Premier League betting at 11/2, behind runaway leaders and 4/11 shots Man City. Opponents Chelsea are as long as 16/1 to regain their title.
Arsene Wenger’s side fell to a 2-1 defeat away to Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League on Wednesday. Goals just before the half-hour and hour marks saw their hosts establish a two-goal lead either side of Olivier Giroud’s dismissal for two bookable offences. Theo Walcott pulled one back late on but Arsenal were unable to force an equaliser thereafter.
Arsenal were the only side in Europe’s top five leagues not to sign a single outfield player over the summer. Supporter frustration increased following their 2-0 home defeat to West Ham on the opening day of the season, but the truth is that the Gunners were somewhat unfortunate to lose that match and had, before Wednesday, recovered well from the defeat.
When on song, Wenger’s side attack quickly and incisively and are capable of creating a high number of good-quality chances. However, their failure to sign another striker to act as competition for the mis-firing Giroud and a strong defensive midfielder capable of shoring up the centre of the pitch are likely to tell against them over the course of a full season.
Wenger will definitely be without the injured Danny Welbeck (knee), Jack Wilshere (ankle) and Tomas Rosicky (knee) for the short trip to West London, while Per Mertesacker (knock) is doubtful.
Our Chelsea vs Arsenal Preview’s Betting Tips
Arsenal won 1-0 when these sides met in the Community Shield in early August. Chelsea were 2-0 victors in last season’s equivalent fixture and have won four and lost just one of the last eight league meetings at all venues. Chelsea have also won five of the last six encounters at Stamford Bridge, while Mourinho has never lost to a Wenger-coached side.
Chelsea have given up far too many good quality chances in their league matches to date and can have few complaints about their current league position. Mourinho has a good squad at his disposal and can be expected to work things out in time but solutions may not come quickly enough to prevent Arsenal from getting a good result on Saturday.
Arsenal have been the league’s most prolific chance-creators so far this season and while the quality of their finishing has not always been on par with that of their approach play, they still look well-equipped to take advantage of Chelsea’s issues. Mourinho has consistently been able to get the better of Wenger in the past but Saturday may just be Wenger’s day, so here are our preview’s betting tips:
- Back Arsenal to win on the ‘draw no bet’ market @ best odds of 5/4 with BetVictor.
- This has largely been a low-scoring fixture in recent times, but Chelsea have conceded two or more goals in four of their five league matches this season and we expect this to be slightly more open than some of those previous fixtures. Back over 2.5 goals @ 4/5 with Bet365, SkyBet, Betfred or BetVictor.