The latest edition of this rivalry — the 205th, making Arsenal our most-played opponent — seems to have arrived on the cusp of a potential role reversal, with the teams seemingly moving in opposite directions. Over the past nearly two decades, Chelsea have been the dominant force in London, winning all the trophies and finishing above Arsenal 16 of the last 18 seasons. While the Gunners have had some success in FA Cups, London has been Blue.
But with Chelsea just clinging on to a top-six spot at the moment and Arsenal leading the league heading into the weekend, and pretty much the last remaining obstacle to yet another title for Manchester City, we could be witnessing a paradigm shift indeed. The Gunners have had a few such false dawns before of course, but they are starting to reap the benefits of a long-term plan and project, and that’s something Chelsea are only just starting.
So an easy 2-0 win for Chelsea then yeah?
Date / Time: Sunday, November 6, 2022, 12.00 GMT; 7am EST; 4:30pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Michael Oliver (on pitch); Jarred Gillett (VAR)
Forecast: Rain, rain, and more rain
On TV: BT Sport 1 (UK); USA Network, Telemundo (USA); Star Sports HD1 (India); Canal+ Sport 3 (NGA)
Streaming: BT Sport Live (UK); NBC Sports Live, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (USA); Hotstar (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Chelsea team news: Chelsea had a chance to come into this game on the back of a full week’s rest. Instead, we opted to play an essentially first-choice lineup in a meaningless midweek game, giving us just 24 hours of extra rest, a tiny bit of extra confidence, plus an extra major injury, with Ben Chilwell now lost for the rest of the calendar year at least, and maybe January as well.
And Chilwell’s hardly the only long-term absentee, with Reece James, N’Golo Kanté, Wesley Fofana, and Kepa Arrizabalaga all still out until at least the World Cup. Kanté hasn’t played since August, Fofana hasn’t played since Potter’s third game in charge, and Kepa’s most excellent month of October ended with a foot injury. Meanwhile, Carney Chukwuemeka has picked up a “slight” hamstring strain as well. We can only hope all of them will be ready to return when we resume play following the World Cup break on Boxing Day.
In more positive news, Kalidou Koulibaly looks to be back from his knee problem and Mateo Kovačić was the one significant exception to the midweek nonsense, and got to rest his weary bones. Denis Zakaria, who turned in a Man of the Match performance in that game, should also be okay as his exit before full-time was only due to cramp.
Potter’s record in charge of Chelsea is obviously pretty good — just one defeat in all competitions — but the vibes (and some of the play) have not been great recently and we do only have two points from our last three league games. A lot of “pain” can be forgotten (or “taken away” to use Potter’s phrasing) with a win here (if not quite healed in certain cases).
Arsenal team news: Unlike Chelsea, Arsenal actually needed to win midweek in order to finish top of their group in Europe — and thus avoid the extra round of playoffs in the Europa League. They did so successfully with a narrow 1-0 win over FC Zürich, while still resting a few key players like William Saliba and Gabriel Martinelli. Bukayo Saka, Thomas Partey, Martin Ødegaard, and Takehiro Tomiyasu only made substitute appearances as well, though the latter still suffered an injury with that risk — albeit just a minor one.
The one significant injury for the Gunners, who have been quite lucky in that department so far this season, is Emile Smith Rowe who underwent surgery last month after dealing with a persistent groin issue for months. There is no timeframe for his return. Backup goalkeeper Matt Turner also remains out thanks to a (more minor) groin problem, but Oleksandr Zinchenko is back fit after a calf injury.
Arsenal’s summer recruitment, combined with their long-term planning, recruitment, and development, has been key to their improved prospects this season, with Gabriel Jesus leading the team in scoring (5g + 6a), Zinchenko proving he’s more than just a spare left back, and young Fábio Viera starting to show flashes of the quality that prompted his £30m move from FC Porto. And they’re still the youngest team in the league, which should set them up well for the future, one would imagine. (Chelsea are solidly midtable right now.)
View from the enemy: The Short Fuse
Previously: The last two times we played, once in the league and once in a friendly, we conceded four goals. So let’s start by not doing that. Overall, our recent record against the Gunners is a bit shocking: last home win four years ago and just two wins in our last seven competitive meetings since the 2019 Europa League final. One of those two came at the start of last season at the Emirates, when Romelu Lukaku scored on his (second) debut. That was 14 months ago. Feels like 14 centuries ago.