The opening weekend of the English Premier League is behind us and there was plenty of dazzling soccer on display during the Matchday 1. All Big 6 clubs, except Arsenal, started their seasons with a win and the rest of the field delivered some entertaining matches as there were only two draws out of the 10 matches played.
Chelsea had a firecracker opener at Huddersfield Town, which they won 0-3. Under the guidance of new manager Maurizio Sarri, Chelsea looked energized and motivated to compete for the Premier League title. There was little doubt what will the outcome of the game be, as Chelsea methodically broke down the opposition and played sound attacking soccer.
Arsenal’s home opener is something that the Gunners’ fans would like to forget as soon as possible. They hosted the reigning champions Manchester City and ended up losing 0-2 at home. The real worry comes from the fact they looked flat and unorganized on the pitch and they fell short of the expectations that the club of their stature has.
The two clubs will meet at Stamford Bridge on Matchday 2 in a London derby which usually delivers a lot of sparks. Chelsea will try to continue their good form at the start of the season, while Arsenal will try right the ship and get more points out of their brutal early schedule.
I have prepared a short breakdown of the match and some betting predictions, so feel free to read on.
Chelsea vs Arsenal Odds:
Over 2.5 Goals: 1.57
Under 2.5 Goals: 2.25
Chelsea vs Arsenal Pick:
Both teams have entered the offseason with a huge cloud of uncertainty above them. Chelsea have fired their manager Antonio Conte, only a year after they have won the English Premier League and replaced him with Maurizio Sarri. The speculations about key players such as Hazard and Willian leaving the club proved to be untrue and so far, the Blues looked like a team that has found the drive and motivation to compete again at the highest level.
Arsenal have gone through the same thing. Long-time manager Arsene Wenger has left the club in the offseason and has been replaced by Unai Emery. This is supposed to be a transition year for Arsenal, as they try to rebuild the roster that is capable of making a run at the title, something that Arsenal haven’t won since the 2004/05 season in the English Premier League.
Chelsea looked great in possession last week at Huddersfield Town as they controlled the ball almost two-thirds of the time. The motors of their excellent performance on an opening day were the midfielders N’Golo Kante and Jorginho, who each scored a goal on the opening day for Chelsea. The Blues should be fully fit once they face off against Arsenal and we can expect them to line up in the same starting eleven that faced Huddersfield Town.
Arsenal’s nightmare of a home opener was a whole different story. The Gunners failed to hold onto the ball versus Manchester City and couldn’t successfully build play from the back. To make matters worse, the Gunner will be missing Carl Jenkinson, Sead Kolasinac, Laurent Koscielny and Ainsley Maitland-Niles who are all still recovering from their injuries. With their whole backline in the air, Arsenal will find it difficult to resist Chelsea’s attacks.
The pace and skill of Chelsea’s attackers Hazard and Willian should wreak havoc against Arsenal’s defense that will be missing several starters. At the same time. N’Golo Kante and Jorginho are one of the most formidable duos in the central midfield in the world and it is extremely difficult to maintain possession against them and create chances. All this doesn’t bode well for Arsenal who still haven’t found their identity and will need time to get used to the new system.
Chelsea have not beaten Arsenal in the last 6 matches they have met but 5 of those were draws, while Arsenal have won the sixth. Maurizio Sarri’s system favors attack-oriented play and players like Hazard and Willian have found new motivation and energy to shine, something that was sorely missing from the last year’s squad with Antonio Conte.
Arsenal still seem in transition and struggling to forge the identity under the new manager. Lack of consistency from their forwards and the injury bug that has hit their back line, make them an underdog in this matchup.
I find it hard to look past Chelsea in this match. Their midfield has the quality to stifle elite counterparts around Europe and with Willian and Hazard on top form, it will be hard for the second-string Arsenal defense to hold them off.