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|Chelsea do not give much away under Thomas Tuchel, and Arsenal have also struggled for goals at times this season.|
|Chelsea vs Arsenal Information|
|Teams||Chelsea vs Arsenal|
|Location||Stamford Bridge, London, England|
|Time||Wednesday, 12 May 2021, 3.15 PM EDT|
|How to watch||NBC Sports|
When Frank Lampard was sacked as Chelsea manager in late January, many of the club’s fans were disappointed. Lampard is, and always will be, a legend at Stamford Bridge. He is Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer and was one of the most important players during their most successful ever era. He had also done a good job in his first season as the Blues’ boss, before a dip in form earlier this campaign that most of his supporters felt was reversible.
Yet while die-hard Chelsea followers are still saddened by the manner of Lampard’s departure, they can have no qualms about Roman Abramovich’s choice as his replacement. Even Lampard himself would admit that Thomas Tuchel has done a remarkable job since assuming control just three and a half months ago.
Chelsea are through to the finals of the FA Cup and the Champions League. They are on the cusp of securing a top-four finish in the Premier League, having risen to third after beating Manchester City last time out. At this rate, they look set to mount a sustained title tilt next term: after all, only City have taken more points than Chelsea since Tuchel took charge.
There are numerous other statistics to evidence the superb work the German has done. Chelsea has kept the cleanest sheets and conceded the fewest goals in the league since his appointment. They might have only scored the seventh-most goals, but no one has created as many chances in open play – poor finishing is ultimately what has let them down. If the season had a few more weeks to run, no one would back against Chelsea catching Manchester United in second.
Arsenal fans would love to have the same amount of optimism and positivity as their Chelsea counterparts right now. Alas, the tough times continue at the Emirates Stadium, with Arsenal facing up to the prospect of no European football next season. It would be the first time since 1995/96 that the Gunners have not participated in continental competition.
Defeat by Villarreal in the semi-finals of the Europa League was particularly painful. The Spanish side are managed by Unai Emery, who was Arteta’s largely unpopular predecessor at Arsenal. But for all Emery’s faults during his time in north London, he did at least have substantial experience to lean on. In his first managerial job, Arteta is struggling to turn a difficult situation around.
Arsenal appears willing to stick with the under-fire Spaniard this summer, but a poor start to next season could leave them searching for a replacement. For now, Arteta must focus on finishing the campaign as strongly as possible, but a trip to in-form Chelsea is hardly ideal.
Arsenal’s most impressive performance of this term arguably came in the reverse fixture in December. Arteta picked a more youthful team that day and was rewarded with a terrific display against Lampard’s side. Arsenal ran out 3-1 winners and looked full of vim and vigor, two characteristics that have been conspicuous by their absence in recent weeks. The Gunners must try and rediscover those qualities as soon as possible, even though it is probably too late for them to secure a top-seven finish and European qualification.
As mentioned above, Chelsea have been better at the back than in attack since Tuchel took the reins. They did not manage to shut Manchester City out last weekend, but the Blues have kept 18 clean sheets in Tuchel’s 25 games in charge in all competitions. That is an extraordinary record, as is the fact that only two visiting teams have breached Chelsea’s backline in Tuchel’s 13 games in the home dugout at Stamford Bridge.
All of which suggests Arsenal will struggle to score on Wednesday. One thing in their favor is Chelsea’s upcoming FA Cup final against Leicester, which takes place at Wembley on Saturday. With the Blues now six points clear in the race for the top four, Tuchel has an opportunity to rest some of his regular starters here. That would increase Arsenal’s chances of springing a surprise.
On the other hand, Arteta’s team have not exactly been free-scoring this term. Their defensive record is better than Leicester’s, West Ham United’s and Liverpool’s, but only one team in the top 11 of the Premier League has scored fewer goals than the Gunners. Breaking through the defense as solid as Chelsea’s could therefore be difficult for Arsenal, a team low on confidence despite their defeat of West Bromwich Albion at the weekend.
For those reasons, under 2.5 goals looks like the best bet when Chelsea face Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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