5 mins – Arsenal 0 Chelsea 0
Another nice move. Martinelli dummies a pass wide so that Tierney takes it on. He crosses in and wins a corner.
Chelsea win a three v four inside the area to head the ball away but Arsenal start again. It looks like they are in a 4-2-3-1, it’s a really positive start.
2 mins – Arsenal 0 Chelsea 0
Arsenal have gone close within 40 seconds! The best move I’ve seen from Arsenal in weeks. The ball is crossed in from the right by Bellerin and Martinelli meets it at the penalty spot, placing his volley wide of the far post. Mendy looked beaten there!
Bernd Leno chatting in German
That’s not something you’d ideally like one of your first team players to be openly sharing, let alone happening at the club.
Timo Werner vs Tammy Abraham
You might be wondering why such an expensive purchase by Chelsea isn’t being played in his supposed best position as a striker.
Buuuuut when you consider Werner played at his previous club in a forward two his lack of goals makes a bit more sense. I wrote this on why Werner suits a position on the left a lot more in this Chelsea system:
Lampard says Chelsea players realise their position in the table
“They’re not stupid, they know where they are. Everyone’s having their moments. Last year we went to teams who were struggling and let them off the hook, let them win duels, slow, let them have their own way.”
That suggests he’s not going to let Arsenal have any time to think this evening.
Arteta’s bad record
One win in 10 Premier League matches for Arsenal and the manager has just said suggested that some of his team selection was forced by injuries and ‘covid times’.
David and Willian were feeling unwell but they both tested negative. With Gabriel, he was in touch with someone who tested positive.”
Earlier I said I thought this was a 4-2-3-1 but Opta have the shape down as a 3-4-3. Keen to see what exactly Arteta is up to here.
How the table looks
The worst thing about today for Arsenal fans is that winning doesn’t even do anything to the table, they just stay floating around that horrible area near relegation but a couple of decent results away from climbing out of it.
Chelsea, on the other hand, can go all the way to second with a win thanks to their superior goal difference over Leicester. Is it Lampard’s coaching or recruitment that’s made Chelsea so good this season? What difference does a manager really make if the players are the ones who decide games?
Here’s how the teams look this evening:
And it’s another absolutely wild selection from Arteta. That looks like a team of reserves working their way back to match fitness, not a team expected to beat Chelsea. That said, Smith-Rowe is a very talented player I’d like to see more of and Martinelli is a proper star. There’s just so little consistency or coherence in a lot of these selections, and I’ve no idea how Arteta wants them to play. That’s a straight a 4-2-3-1 – why didn’t he do that against worse teams earlier? And why not the defensive 3-4-3 today against one of the best attacking teams in the league?
Hello there and welcome to Boxing Day’s Big Game – no, it’s not Monopoly against your sisters, it’s Arsenal vs Chelsea. And just like Monopoly against your sisters, it’s a game the man in charge of the house cannot afford to lose.
I am of course referring to Mikel Arteta, whose career as manager is rapidly descending into trouble airport, the worst of all the airports. Chelsea are playing with freedom and attacking flair, with their hip, young manager having a much better time of things. That has a lot to do with the far more balanced, and simply better, squad that Chelsea have. I don’t think there’s a single Arsenal player that would get in a combined ‘Best Of’ for these two teams. Maybe Tierney?
Even the Chelsea bench is stronger, which is going to be important soon judging by Lampard’s recent comments on having heaps of games to guide his squad through.
“The fact it’s two games in 48 hours is an important point for us because there are other teams who are challenging at the top of the League that play two games in three days.
“Manchester United, Tottenham, Liverpool play two games in three days. It’s counter-productive for the quality of the Premier League, it’s a risk for players if they are going to play both games at the top-end elite sport, everybody knows that.
“I know sometimes the blame can be put on the broadcasters and I know that in conjunction with each other, and this was bounced around, it got decided that we play twice in 48 hours when other teams that are challenging at the top of the league play twice in three days, an extra 24 hours recovery.”
The players won’t be thinking about the turnaround in matches during this one, and Chelsea will turn up knowing that if they play anything like they way they have in recent matches then Arsenal are going to struggle to beat them. Will Arteta opt for an overly defensive system to cope with the threat? Or will he try to open them up and allow for some football, the sort of thing many assumed Arteta would introduce when he was first hired.
Kick off is 5:30pm, the game is live on Sky Sports, live updates and analysis will be right here.