Football on Boxing Day is one of those indelible Premier League traditions, and that’s especially true in this unprecedented year and season. We might not have fans in the stands once again, but a derby between Chelsea and Arsenal will sure to get the blood boiling amid all merriment and goodwill of the holiday season.
Even beyond the rivalry, this match is a must-win for either side. For Chelsea and Lampard, it’s a necessary three points to keep pace near the top. For Arsenal and Arteta, it’s a necessary three points to steer clear of a relegation battle.
The pressure’s on.
Date / Time: Saturday, December 26, 2020, 17.30 GMT; 12:30pm EST; 11pm IST
Venue: Emirates Stadium, London, England
Referee: Michael Oliver (on pitch); Paul Tierney (VAR)
Forecast: Freezing cold
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); NBC, Universo (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); SuperSport Premier League, Canal+ Sport 3 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: Sky Go (UK); NBC Sports Live, Universo Now (USA); Hotstar (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Arsenal team news: Key summer signing Thomas Partey remains out with a muscle strain, while both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Gabriel Martinelli are doubtful at best, having just returned to training in recent days. The good-bad news for Arsenal is that midfield liability Granit Xhaka has now served his three-match suspension for his violent conduct red card and is available once again.
Having to rely on someone like Xhaka (or a struggling Willian or a wild card David Luiz) is not a great situation to be in, but that’s where Arsenal find themselves, mired in a slump that’s seen them win just 1 of their last 10 Premier League matches (7 losses). All streaks must come to an end however, and Chelsea cannot and must not underestimate the Gunners.
View from the enemy: The Short Fuse
Chelsea team news: Chelsea righted the ship after back-to-back losses with a 3-0 win over West Ham on Monday, which looks better on paper than it did at the time, but they all count the same in the end. As Lampard has been preaching all season, the key is consistency and building momentum through steady performances. Here’s another big litmus test then.
Our task won’t be made any easier by the absences of both starting full backs, Reece James and Ben Chilwell, and while Callum Hudson-Odoi looks fit and available once again, Hakim Ziyech remains sidelined.
Previously: Last time we met Arsenal was in the FA Cup final back on August 1st, which was a most annoying day, but we did win this same fixture last season, right around this time in fact, coming from behind thanks to a helping hand from Bernd Leno and a late show from Lampard’s boys.