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Aug 18, 2018 at 5.30pm UK at ​Stamford Bridge
Attendance: 40,491
Pedro (9'), Morata (20'), Alonso (81')
FT(HT: 2-2)
Mkhitaryan (37'), Iwobi (41')

Preview: Chelsea vs. Arsenal - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides predicted lineups, team news and a full match preview of Arsenal's Premier League trip to London rivals Chelsea.

Unai Emery will be hoping to get his Arsenal tenure up and running at the second attempt when his side take on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening.

The Gunners were well beaten by champions Manchester City on the opening weekend of the Premier League season, while this weekend's opponents cruised to three points at Huddersfield Town.


Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri celebrates after watching his side beat Huddersfield Town on August 11, 2018© Reuters

The ease with which Chelsea came away from the John Smith's Stadium with victory last weekend left new boss Maurizio Sarri wondering whether his side will click into gear sooner than he anticipated.

Rather than taking three or four months to adapt to his high-intensity style of play, the Italian admitted that the Blues may find their groove this side of October.

Time is not something that Chelsea managers tend to be afforded, of course, but even Roman Abramovich will have some sympathy for Sarri, who was appointed with less than a month's preparation for the new campaign.

After the disappointment of finishing fifth last time out, softened somewhat by the FA Cup success in Antonio Conte's final game in charge, Sarri has rolled out a new system, new style of play and has integrated some new players into the side.

Jorginho has adapted well to English football, helping to create attacks from deep and freeing up N'Golo Kante to play a little higher up the field, while Kepa Arrizabalaga kept a clean sheet on what proved to be a quiet debut in West Yorkshire.

Chelsea know that tougher tests lie ahead, however, including Saturday's showdown with fellow top-four hopefuls Arsenal. The Blues may have racked up passes galore against Huddersfield, yet it was a different story six days beforehand when being outplayed by Man City in the Community Shield.

In seeing off the Terriers, Sarri became the ninth consecutive Chelsea manager - including caretakers - to avoid defeat in his first match in charge, and it was the biggest winning margin of any new Blues boss since Luiz Felipe Scolari saw his side win 4-0 at Portsmouth a decade ago.

Pushing on from that maiden victory will be key if momentum is to be taken into games against Newcastle United, Bournemouth and Cardiff City either side of the season's first international break, with Sarri knowing full well just how important a fast start can be.

Recent form in Premier League: W
Recent form (all competitions): LW


Unai Emery points a finger during the Premier League game between Arsenal and Manchester City on August 12, 2018© Reuters

While Sarri has spent the week celebrating his first three-point haul in English football, Emery has had to dissect Arsenal's 2-0 loss at the hands of last season's runaway champions Man City.

The Gunners, much like Chelsea a week prior, were unable to compete at times as the Citizens picked up from where they left off in 2017-18 by adding three points to their tally.

There was a real emphasis on playing the ball out from the back against City, which did not exactly go to plan as possession was given away too often, while experienced keeper Petr Cech so nearly scored one of the all-time great own goals when attempting a first-time pass.

The outcome may have been disappointing, and already some are suggesting that Emery has a challenge on his hands simply guiding Arsenal back into the top four, but the Spaniard was right to point out that the Gunners will not face a tougher opponent all season.

Unfortunately for the ex-Paris Saint-Germain boss, though, the next assignment is not a whole lot easier. In the cynical world of football, successive defeats to begin his tenure - no matter the quality of the opposition - will lead to questions being asked of Emery.

The 46-year-old is already the first Arsenal manager in eight to lose his opening league game in charge, and not since 1992-93 have the North London outfit kicked off a Premier League season with two defeats on the spin.

Emery, understandably, is confident that his side will improve over time in what is being described as a long-term project, calling on his players to "suffer together" if they are to restore some pride following successive campaigns out of the Champions League.

Returning to the top four of the Premier League is ultimately the main target for Emery. Against a Chelsea side also expected to challenge for a European berth, already this fixture could have a huge say in which of the newbie managers will have the last laugh next May.

Recent form in Premier League: L

Team News

Ainsley Maitland-Niles in action for Arsenal on December 7, 2017© Reuters

Arsenal confirmed on Thursday morning that Ainsley Maitland-Niles fractured his leg in the defeat to Man City, ruling him out for up to two months.

The good news for the visitors is that Nacho Monreal is back in training and may well go straight into the side at left-back, while Danny Welbeck is also in contention for the first time this season.

Emery has already made his biggest call, meanwhile, as Cech will retain his place in the side in favour of Bernd Leno, who is being made to wait for his chance to shine.

Elsewhere, Lucas Torreira is in line for a first start after a shortened pre-season, which could see young midfielder Matteo Guendouzi dropping down to the bench, and Emery may well try to find a way of shoehorning Alexandre Lacazette into the side.

As for Chelsea, Eden Hazard impressed during his cameo from the bench against Huddersfield, but Sarri suggested after the game that the Belgian is not quite ready to feature from the off just yet.

Mateo Kovacic has been given a full week's training and has been tipped to replace Ross Barkley in a midfield three alongside Jorginho and Kante, but otherwise changes are expected to be kept to a minimum.

French World Cup winner Olivier Giroud, another who is working his way back to fitness, is looking to become just the second player to score for both sides in this Premier League fixture, having netted against the Blues in February 2017.

The other player to manage that feat is Cesc Fabregas, who is unlikely to play any part this weekend due to a knock.

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic; Pedro, Morata, Willian

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal; Torreira, Xhaka; Ozil, Ramsey, Mkhitaryan; Aubameyang

Head To Head

This will be the ninth meeting between these sides in the last 14 months, most recently facing off in Dublin two weeks ago when Arsenal recovered from a goal down to draw 1-1, before prevailing on penalties in the friendly.

The Gunners have failed to win at Stamford Bridge in the last seven league seasons, however, and have lost five of the last six on enemy territory.

A goalless draw in September's match did end that losing run, though, and the North Londoners also claimed bragging rights in their EFL Cup semi-final tie at the turn of the year.

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We say: Chelsea 0-0 Arsenal

Including the first leg of that aforementioned EFL Cup tie, the sides have played out back-to-back stalemates at Stamford Bridge. In a match of such high stakes so early in the season, risk-taking may well be kept to a minimum as both teams will want to avoid defeat at all costs.

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Who will win Saturday's Premier League clash between Chelsea and Arsenal?

Chelsea's Kepa Arrizabalaga strikes a pose on August 11, 2018
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