Chelsea and Arsenal have met three times in four months, including twice already this season, though both of those occasions were more friendly than either the FA Cup loss or the upcoming match on Sunday lunchtime. Chelsea won the friendly in Beijing 3-0, then lost the Community Shield (well, it’s more of a plate) on the ABBA penalty shootout after battling to a 1-1 draw in regulation. Both the Community Shield and the FA Cup final saw a Chelsea player crucially dismissed, so avoiding that on Sunday could be helpful.
Even more helpful should be the confidence that’s back at the club after the opening day defeat to Burnley, which saw two more red cars for Chelsea as well as the worst 45 minutes of football we’ve seen in a long time. But since then, the Blues have rattled off four straight wins, including one over Spurs at Wembley, as well as Tuesday’s celebratory 6-0 return to the Champions League.
Speaking of 6-0, Arsenal.
"It is good to face Arsenal now. Everybody is healthy and things are going well. We won at Leicester, won comfortably last night and will go into the Arsenal game with a good feeling."
"Do we feel like we are in a good place? Yes. Sometimes it is good to face a big team early. Last year it didn't work out against Liverpool and Arsenal, but this season we have already won at Tottenham."
"Arsenal had a few bad matches, but won comfortably [against Bournemouth] last weekend. Let's see what they do in the Europa League [on Thursday], but they will probably rest some guys. "
"For us and for them it's a big game because we are third in the table. Obviously we want to close the gap [between Chelsea and the Manchester clubs] and take points off Arsenal as well."
Obviously these quotes from Thibaut Courtois are from before Arsenal’s 3-1 win over 1.FC Köln, for which Wenger rotated his squad quite heavily to keep the starters fresh for Chelsea. So while Chelsea should be confident, it’s imperative that we don’t become too confident.
"We are doing well. After the bad first half against Burnley, I think all our performances have been good. We have shown good spirit, good football and good wins most importantly of all. "
"After the Burnley loss, we felt that if we are not at 100 per cent, we will have trouble against any team. That is the main thing we have changed in the last few weeks. "
"It was just good for us to start the Champions League group well. We knew Roma and Atletico were playing each other, so we knew our first game at home had to be a win. To win 6-0 is even better. "
"That doesn't mean we should be too confident right now. We have to stay focused and I hope we have a good victory against Arsenal."
-Thibaut Courtois; source: London Evening Standard
One game at a time, as the cliche goes, we ought to keep in mind, especially for a must-win (for psychological reasons as much as for competitive ones). Chelsea climbed back into the top three last weekend, just one point behind the two Manchester title favorites, and that’s a great place to be as we head into Matchday 5.