The early race for the 2017/2018 English premier league title could take another twist when Chelsea and Arsenal clash at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Both teams recorded mixed results in their season-opening clashes but their stories have also changed since then.
For Chelsea, they have recovered from their disappointing 2-3 loss to Burnley at home as they have gone ahead to record a 2-1 win over Tottenham at Wembley which was followed by a home win over Everton and an away win over Leicester City.
Chelsea have now garnered 9 points to find themselves just 1 point adrift of table-toppers, Manchester United and that does represent a turnaround for them.
For Arsenal, since scoring late to secure a 4-3 win over Leicester City in our first game, we have lost two out of our three games including an embarrassing 4-0 loss to Liverpool at Anfield and a 1-0 loss to Stoke City at the Bet365 stadium while we got the better of Bournemouth last weekend with a 3-0 win.
Going into Sunday’s game, Chelsea are the favourites as their form and their past record against the Gunners really support the claim.
Since being given a 3-5 bashing at home by Arsenal in October 2011, the Blues have recorded wins in their last five outings against Arsene Wenger’s men.
They have also lost just once in their last 11 games against the Gunners, with the only loss which was at the Emirates Stadium last season proving to be the pivot that propelled them to their success as Conte switched to a 3-4-3 formation afterwards and they are still reaping the rewards.
For Arsenal, history books are really not our friends. The last time we got an away win against any of the top six teams of last season was in January 2015 when we defeated Manchester City 2-0 at the Etihad.
But Arsene Wenger’s men aren’t ruling themselves out as we have learnt how to grind out results against Chelsea at our worst state recently. we boast of three wins in their last four competitive meetings against the Blues.
We beat Antonio Conte’s men in the FA Cup final last season and quickly topped that with a win over our rivals in the season-opening community shield clash although, we won via penalties.
Chelsea thus look fresher than their opponents going into Sunday’s game. Despite rotating his squad, Conte’s men even had an easy prey in the form of Qarabag who they demolished 6-0 in the UEFA Champions league last Tuesday. Aside not being overstretched, they got four days to prepare for Sunday’s game.
Arsenal aren’t so lucky in terms of fixtures, we had to fight hard to record a 3-1 comeback win over Cologne in our Europa league game on Thursday and got only two days to prepare.
Both teams will however benefit from squad rotation as they rested some of their players while they gave the returning ones more time on the pitch which means some of their star players could come out fresh on Sunday.
While Chelsea could start Eden Hazard for the first time in a league game this season, Arsenal will be hoping to give Alexis Sanchez a starting berth too but it’s the Belgian’s inclusion that looks very much a big deal.
Hazard replaced Didier Drogba as the player that knows how to score Arsenal. He has scored thrice in his last four home meetings with Arsenal and will want to improve that record.
Captain Gary Cahill is expected to return after serving his 3-game ban while the duo of Alvaro Morata and Victor Moses could also return.
Arsenal undeniably have the pressure on, and will be hoping to avoid a bad record of losing our first three away games of the season in their manager’s 59th clash with Chelsea. The last time we lost our first three away games of the season was in 1954.
The game however could be crucial in the title race at the end. A win for Chelsea will strengthen their position on the log while getting away with the three points could also be the boost Arsenal have been looking for.