Arsenal take the short trip across the capital for their Premier League clash against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge this evening; with Mikel Arteta looking for payback having suffered the only defeat in his short reign against the Blues.
Both sides come into this match on the back of disappointing results this past Saturday; the Gunners drew 1-1 with Sheffield United, with Newcastle United scoring in the last minute to run out 1-0 winners against Frank Lampard’s side.
It was always going to be a trying season for Lampard as his arm got forced by their transfer ban over the summer to bring in quite a few young players into the side.
But after just one point from their opening two league games they went on a decent run, winning eight of their following 10 (D1, L1), and things started to look on the ups. Then with fixture congestion after the November inter-break, the inexperience of his young side showed with them struggling to find consistency, losing six of their 11 matches since.
All things considered though, even with their ‘implosion’ thus far this winter months, they’re still in control of their own top-four ambitions, thanks to their strong start to the season.
In comparison the North London side have struggled all season, despite recent “improved performances”. Not because of matches lost per se, only three teams got less defeats than our current six, but largely due to a league high 11 draws from 23 matches.
Since the Spaniards arrival we drew four out of six league matches, including our last three away at Everton (watching from the stands), Bournemouth and Crystal Palace. Only one of our draws ended goalless and we surrendered the lead in seven of the other 10. This is such a frustrating stat because you’d expect us to do a better job seeing games out, especially with seven of those coming against sides outside the traditional top-six.
Another bit of info is that, despite our issues on the road, we haven’t lost an away match since that 2-0 loss at Leicester on November 9th. But once again, the draws are keeping us mired in midtable. If we are to claw our way up the table, we have to find a way to convert draws into wins so our results can start match our performances.
Just looking at our two recent fixtures; the Gunners looked on their way to wins against both Crystal Palace and the Blades after going 1-0 into the break, however, we failed to hold on. It’s true that we were let down by questionable officiating in both outings, but we also didn’t do ourselves any favours by being so off-colour in front of goal. These two results can be seen as wasted opportunities because if we had that four-point swing, we would be going into this game with a chance to close the gap on 4th-placed Chelsea to three points.
Which begs the question; are we really having a crap season that merits the term “relegation form”, or just an unfortunate one?
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is suspended, with Reiss Nelson and Sead Kolasinac only expected back after our trip to Burnley. Sokratis, who missed our last game due to illness, will be assessed ahead of the game.
Chelsea have struggled at home in the league recently, winning only two of their last five at the Bridge. So Arsenal definitely got a chance here if we take the game to them, we have to put away our chances though, because that has been our biggest letdown since Boxing day.
Difficult games to call, especially with history not our side; we haven’t win there since the 5-3 back in October 2011, a game both head-coaches played in. I do fancy our chances though, with both teams to score. COYG!