After an unimpressive start to the new Premier League season, losing 2-0 to Manchester City, Arsenal new manager, Unai Emery would be hoping for his first league point as he takes a short trip to Stamford Bridge against City rivals – Chelsea in the first London Derby of the season. The Gunners have an unenviable record of not having won a game in their last 10 trips to the Bridge – losing nine and winning one and this is what Emery would be hoping to turn around this evening
Arsenal suffered a humbling defeat against Manchester City last Sunday but there is no need for doom and gloom at the Emirates as the new era continues to build.
It was always going to be a tough ask for Unai Emery to march straight into the club and turn them into Premier League title contenders immediately, and the defeat against the defending champions proved that in no uncertain terms.
The Gunners have a terrible record at Stamford Bridge which will, of course, be a major worry ahead of the trip to Chelsea this evening but there is no reason why Arsenal can’t go there and ruffle a few feathers.
Chelsea have problems of their own given the way they were brushed aside by City in the Community Shield, meaning now might be the perfect time to catch Maurizio Sarri’s men.
A Chelsea back four with David Luiz and Antonio Rudiger at the heart is far from secure meaning there will be no better opportunity for Emery to take the brave call and play his big two-goal threats together.
Arsene Wenger was reluctant to start Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette in the same team but both are top class in their own right and both have been regular scorers since arriving at the Emirates.
In general, Lacazette has been the odd one out, as he was against City, but he very nearly made a major impact off the bench and his ability to be a presence in the box could unsettle a leaky Chelsea defence.
Auba has been excellent following his arrival from Dortmund with 10 goals in his first 13 Premier League games, and recent quotes made to ESPN from the player suggest that the two star forwards are eager to strike up a partnership.
“We really get on well. There is a spark between us when we are both on the pitch together. We look for each other, we saw it against City when he came on.”
Lacazette received his fair share of criticism last season but his goalscoring record of 14 goals in 32 matches is not too shabby when you take into account his injury problems.
Arsenal doesn’t have the players to settle in and play on the counter against a team like Chelsea so it could be that attack is the best form of defence in big game such as this one. Emery will be desperate not to lose his first two matches in charge of the Gunners and he has to consider getting his best players on the pitch in a bid to avoid that scenario.
Aubameyang has played from the left at various times during his career including during his time at Arsenal on many occasions, and with so much on the line at the Bridge it could be time for Lacazette to get his chance alongside the Gabon international.
Chelsea are far from a secure and healthy unit at this early stage of the Sarri project and if the Gunners ever had a chance to pick up their first win at Stamford Bridge since 2011, then now is the time to do so.
Emery has inherited a squad with all the backbone of a stranded jellyfish and his task doesn’t get any easier. Arsenal can, however, take heart from the fact they are unbeaten in six meetings with Chelsea in all competitions – won three, drawn three. However, a closer look at their recent efforts on the road and their woeful record at Stamford Bridge gives a clearer indication of their frailties away from The Emirates.
Since Wenger’s men romped to a 5-1 win at West Ham on 3rd December 2016, Arsenal have won just eight of their next 31 away league games (drawn five, lost 18) in the top-flight of English football and they had the dubious honour of holding the 11th ‘best’ away record in the division last season. How does Emery solve the away day blues that plagued Arsene Wenger’s final two years as manager?
Trips to Stamford Bridge have often been met with an impending sense of doom for Arsenal supporters as they have won just one of their last 10 visits to ‘The Bridge’ in all competitions, with that sole success coming by virtue of a bizarre 5-3 success in 2011. They are winless in seven away games against Chelsea since then, drawing two and losing five, and scoring goals have been a major issue.
The challenge for Emery will be to find the balance between attack and defence as Arsenal bid to improve their quite dreadful scoring record at Stamford Bridge, whilst also cutting out the defensive errors that have blighted their Premier League matches away from The Emirates in recent times. Eden Hazard has often been their nemesis, scoring three goals and laying on one assist in his past five league appearances against Arsenal at Chelsea’s ground, and it will be interesting to see how Emery tries to contain the Belgian playmaker.
Although both squads look evenly matched on paper, Chelsea’s dominant midfield and their form from their stellar performance in the first game may just be the factor which sways the result in their way.
Head to head
18/03/01 Arsenal 2 – 2 Chelsea
17/17/09 Chelsea 0 – 0 Arsenal
17/04/02 Chelsea 3 – 1 Arsenal
16/24/09 Arsenal 3 – 0 Chelsea
16/24/01 Arsenal 0 – 1 Chelsea
15/19/09 Chelsea 2 – 0 Arsenal
15/26/04 Arsenal 0 – 0 Chelsea
14/05/09 Chelsea 2 – 0 Arsenal
14/22/03 Chelsea 6 – 0 Arsenal
13/23/12 Arsenal 0 – 0 Chelsea
13/20/01 Chelsea 2 – 1 Arsenal
12/29/09 Arsenal 1 – 2 Chelsea
12/ 21/04 Arsenal 0 – 0 Chelsea
11/29/1 Chelsea 3 – 5 Arsenal