Chelsea have had the upper hand against Arsenal in the last few seasons, but Wenger’s team is in good form right now. Can Arsenal finally turn the tide against the Blues?
Talent in Reserve for Arsenal
Wenger named a completely changed eleven in the League Cup away at Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night, but that didn’t stop them romping to a 4-0 win.
It gave the manager a closer look at new striker Lucas Pérez, and the Spaniard impressed, scoring a penalty and putting the game to bed with a determined individual goal.
But given that his rival for the striker role, Alexis Sánchez, also got a brace last weekend, Lucas may have to wait a while for his next league start.
Iwobi a Sure Bet to Start
It says a lot about Wenger’s faith in the young attacking midfielder that Iwobi was nowhere to be seen on Tuesday night. This tells you that he’s odds-on to start this weekend.
The 20-year-old has shown technique and game intelligence beyond his years since he broke through at the start of the year.
He made Arsenal’s attack tick against Hull, and the players shielding Chelsea’s defence will need to be watchful as he loves linking up around the area and playing deft passes.
Gabriel Paulista made his return to fitness in mid-week, but that should have little effect on the manager’s plans.
Wenger will keep faith with Shkodran Mustafi as the German international gets used to the rough and tumble of Premier League football. There have been a few iffy moments, but promising signs too.
What we can see already is that Mustafi is a front-foot, aggressive defender, a lot like Koscielny. They’re very similar players in style and stature, but there’s no reason why they can’t form a strong partnership.
Clicking at Last
The opening weeks weren’t easy for Arsenal, as they slumped to a home defeat against Liverpool and then played out a nervous draw at Leicester.
But performances and results are improving with every match. And despite their recent poor run against Chelsea, Arsenal might be confident of finally ending their hoodoo.
Conte, like Mourinho, may find that it takes a little while longer to get his team playing the way he wants.
If you think of their impressive wins in August as the honeymoon, then the grind begins now, and it will be fascinating to see how both United and Chelsea get through it.
Arsenal can seize upon any uncertainties within the Chelsea ranks, despite only being marginal favourites at 2.37 according to Bet365.
Arsenal Predicted Lineup
Cech; Bellerín, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Cazorla, Coquelin; Walcott, Özil, Iwobi; Sánchez
For their part, Chelsea played out a pulsating Cup tie away to Leicester in mid-week, claiming a 4-2 win, but only after extra time.
Cahill, David Luiz, Azpilicueta and Matić all played 120 minutes on Tuesday, which may not have been ideal preparation for what could be a draining match against one of their toughest rivals.
Conte will take heart from Chelsea’s recent record against the Gunners: You have to go back a long way, to the 2011-12 season, to find Chelsea’s last league defeat against Arsenal.
And it’s not since the days of Thierry Henry that Arsenal have gone into this fixture expecting to win.
Chelsea may also be aware that the Emirates crowd can be more of a millstone than a boost for its team. If the Blues get off to a good start Arsenal will lose the fans fairly quickly.
Terry Tipped for Return
One man who knows how to win against Arsenal is John Terry. He’s been pencilled in to for Saturday’s match and will be welcomed following Chelsea’s recent defensive showings.
Looking at the investment needed to bring to bring David Luiz back to Stamford Bridge, if anybody drops out it will probably be Cahill.
The England man was at fault for Leroy Fer’s goal against Swansea and was tormented by Liverpool last Friday.
Azpilicueta scored a long-range stunner in the week, and looks like he may finally be ready to steal that right-back spot from Ivanović, whose form has slipped in the last 18 months or so.
Marcos Alonso put in a solid display on the other wing, and the time might be right for Conte to hand him the left-back berth after shelling out £23 million for him in August.
But Conte may also decide he needs all the experience he can get, and, like John Terry, Ivanović knows what Arsenal are all about.
Cesc Surprise in Store?
We know from his time in Italy that Conte is a manager who tries to get inside his players’ minds to psych them up.
And if you believe that his treatment of Fàbregas this season has been part of a plan to get more out of him, this weekend might be the perfect opportunity to unleash the Spanish midfielder.
Fàbregas couldn’t have responded better to losing his place, and he’ll be highly motivated against his former club. Every time he’s come on he’s made a difference, and he bagged two goals at Leicester on Tuesday.
Chelsea Predicted Teamsheet
Courtois; Azpilicueta, Terry, David Luiz, Alonso; Kanté; Willian, Oscar, Fàbregas, Hazard; Diego Costa
When Will Arsenal vs Chelsea Take Place?
The match kicks off at 17:30 BST at the Emirates Stadium. Did you know that the Premier League is the best-supported domestic league in Europe??
Arsenal vs Chelsea Match Prediction
It might not be smart to ignore the record book, but if you look at the circumstances around this match a home win is a distinct possibility. Arsenal have found some rhythm and are playing with increasing assurance after their opening day defeat.
Chelsea have stumbled a little lately, and you wouldn’t blame Conte if it takes a while before he gets the best out of his side. Arsenal will also be completely rested for this fixture and will be confident of pressing home that narrow advantage.
We’re going for an edgy 2-1 win to the Gunners.