Antonio Conte‘s Chelsea have dropped points in both of their last Premier League fixtures.
They would have been in the dog-house had they been knocked out of the league cup by Leicester City, but four unanswered goals and two extra time goals from CescFabregas sent them through with a flying 4-2 victory.
One important thing to note about their last two games is that in both, they have gone down 2-0 in the first 45 minutes. Conte will be undoubtedly displeased with that and the Blues may look to strangle the opening stages of their match with Arsenal.
(Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Right Back: Hector Bellerin
Hector Bellerin put in a very strong performance against Hull City last weekend, and he was rested (smartly) mid-week to keep him fresh for this game.
Providing Chelsea new boy Marcos Alonso can adjust to Bellerin‘s speed, it could be a tough game. Should Alonso be incapable, the Spaniard could be running for days.
On the defensive end, Eden Hazard will surely keep Bellerin busy on the break. Hopefully Arsene Wenger can explain this to Bellerin so comprehensively that he stays back when he needs to.
Central Defense: Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi
Arsenal’s new central defense partnership looks very solid, but this will be Mustafi‘s first big match for the Gunners and it is a real test.
Mustafi will be up against a new opponent in Diego Costa and he will have to prove his worth when players are running at him. In the reverse fixture one year ago, Gabriel received a red card and consigned his side to defeat. The necessary thing for this game specifically is good discipline.
Laurent Koscielny is no stranger to this match and will be up for a battle with Costa. The Frenchman has been extremely strong so far this campaign, and similar levels of aggressiveness would prove a key factor in such a battle.
Left Back: Nacho Monreal
Nacho Monreal may be fighting an uphill battle if Antonio Conte‘s side fields Willian on the right flank. Against ex-Barcelona star Pedro, Monreal has an opponent he knows and could handle due to Pedro‘s waning speed.
Willian, however, is a superb runner and could catch Monreal down the flank provided the Blues have an opportunity to break.
30-year-old Nacho is going to be test this season and this match one of his biggest challenges.
(Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Central Midfield: Francis Coquelin
Francis Coquelin also did not feature mid-week while Granit Xhaka did, and thus Coquelin will get the start alongside his partner Santi Cazorla.
Regardless of what you may think about Arsene Wenger‘s trophy-winning shortcomings, Arsenal can go on unbeaten runs during a season and the coach’s tactical decisions should be trusted at that point.
Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla have a strong partnership right now and Granit Xhaka has not made a partnership of the same quality with any player as of yet.
Xhaka should continue to get first team football in less important matches and “Coqzorla” will remain a partnership until results start to turn bad.
Central Midfield: Santi Cazorla
Santi Cazorla started the match against Nottingham Forest but did not play a full 90 minutes. Based on Xhaka‘s recent good form he’ll probably do the same in this match and play around 70 minutes of football.
The former Malaga star has been at the club for longer than over half of the other Arsenal players. He knows Chelsea’s ex-Liga talents like Costa and Azpilicueta and the fans love him right now so this will be a match he must put his stamp on if Arsenal want to take three points.
(Photo credit should read LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP/Getty Images)
Right Attacking Midfield: Theo Walcott
Former golden boy TheoWalcottplayed in Arsenal vs Chelsea before any other Predicted Starting XI player was in the first team.
Theo needs to perform and pay back Arsenal players for all of the support they have given him in his years at the club. Marcos Alonso is arguably Chelsea’s weak link in defense and if Walcott can combine with Bellerin and Sanchez in the attack Arsenal could score goals.
Left Attacking Midfield: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been up and down in games so far. He scored a goal against Nottingham Forest, but didn’t feature against Hull and didn’t impress in the matches the week before.
He will face a tough opponent in Azpilicueta and will have to earn his stripes if he wants to appear on the scoresheet again. His fitness is solid at present but the end product is still coming – but we mustremember that the Ox is still young.
Hopefully, he will a good game and a get goal to boot. Oxlade-Chamberlain’s confidence being high is the ultimate key to his progression.
PARIS, FRANCE – SEPTEMBER 13: Mesut Ozil of Arsenal FC reacts during the Champion’s League match against Arsenal FC at Parc des Princes on September 13, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)
Center Attacking Midfield: Mesut Ozil
Brother Mesut‘s form deteriorated in 90 minutes so the best we can really do is hope that he’s in a creative mood and decides to win the match.
Brother Mesut continuously gets double-marked in matches and he has found it very hard to find space this season. He has been finding the space because of his quality, but Chelsea, and more importantly Conte, will not forget about him for one second.
Ozil is one of those players who can get intimidated out of a match, but if Arsenal start this game well and put Chelsea down in the first half their German star could be the reason for their victory.
Center Forward: Alexis Sanchez
Alexis Sanchez will no doubt feature again as a deep-lying forward, but he is up against very physical defenders.
David Luiz is back from his vacation in Paris and that’s no small matter – the Brazilian is vulnerable when forwards are intelligent with their link-up play.
Adding to that, it’s easy to forget Chelsea’s defense was very much in question last season. Providing their preparation for the Chilean’s role in attack is not adequate, Alexis could bag himself some goals.