Can Arsenal take advantage of Chelsea's stuttering?
Tuesday’s showdown between Chelsea and Arsenal is one which will have big ramifications.
A Blues victory would maintain breathing room between themselves and the Champions League-chasing pack below them, while a defeat would likely see the gap close considerably – whilst giving Arsenal renewed hope of sneaking into the top four.
The fact Chelsea are still comfortably 4th—despite losing six of their last 11 league games—displays just how poor many the so-called big guns have been this season, and it’s looking increasingly likely that Frank Lampard’s men will limp over the line virtue of those below them being even more inconsistent than they are.
As for Arsenal, they’ve only lost once under Mikel Arteta—against Chelsea, where they were in control before Bernd Leno’s late error changed the game—and though they are far from the finished article, I’ve seen glimpses of improvement from The Gunners.
Regarding this game, I’m backing Arsenal to win or draw as a double chance.
Chelsea were shambolic against Newcastle last week, and too many players are underperforming for Frank Lampard. Furthermore, they’ve lost three of their last five games at Stamford Bridge—against West Ham, Bournemouth and Southampton—which is pathetic for a side with Champions League aspirations.
Arsenal are odds-against in this market presumably because Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is suspended, but Gabriel Martinelli is a more than adequate back-up, shown by his goal on Saturday against Sheffield United.
I believe there’s more scope for Arsenal to improve than Chelsea in the short term, and at odds-against an Arsenal/draw double chance looks very generous.
The referee for this game is Stuart Attwell, who has the highest yellow-cards-per-game rate than any other ref in the Premier League this season (4.55) – yes more than Mike Dean who is second.
With this in mind, I fancy Jorginho to be carded.
The Italian is Chelsea’s dirtiest player, having amassed eight yellow cards in the league this season—as well as a couple in the Champions League—and the derby nature of this fixture may conjure up the perfect storm for yet another caution.