So, it’s finally time for us to bring some football into the New Year. Tonight sees us play our first out of three game against Chelsea this month, the other two in the League Cup, and hopefully we can continue our recent form against them.
Despite the great success in his first season in the Premier League, Antonio Conte doesn’t seem to like facing Arsenal too often. In his four meetings with Arsenal as Chelsea manager he’s only come out on top once (A 3-1 win at Stamford Bridge last season).
Other than that convincing win though, the four other games between Conte and Arsene Wenger have seen the Frenchman win three times.
Most famously winning 3-0 at The Emirates in a faultless display which in-turn, saw Conte change his tactics for the rest of the season as he moved to a 3-4-3. The other notable victory came in the F.A. Cup final, another game where Conte’s side were simply no match for Arsenal who were far superior on the day.
However, going into this game, Arsenal aren’t in the best of shape both on and off the pitch.
On the pitch, December proved to be a nightmare of a month as our form took a massive dip in a run which only saw us win two out of seven Premier League games.
The common theme in these matches being us showing a lack of urgency going forward and failing to come up with different ways to score goals other than pretty football.
Off the pitch we’ve been hit with many injuries over the last week or so.
Sead Kolasinac picked up a knock on his ankle away at West Brom on New Years’ Eve, Laurent Koscielny came off at The Hawthornes due to his reoccurring achilles injury and Mesut Ozil apparently has a knee injury but may be available for tonight. Nacho Monreal and Aaron Ramsey, as well as Olivier Giroud are also still unavailable for a couple of weeks.
Chelsea on the other hand, really seem to be finding their groove. After a disappointing start to December, the Blues have gone on to win four of their last five Premier League games, including the battering of Stoke City on the weekend.
What made the confidence-enhancing result for Chelsea even worse, was the fact that Eden Hazard wasn’t on the pitch. Probably being rested for tonight he should be fresh for combat at The Emirates.
But hey, we’ve seen Wenger create a fake injury ahead of a big match before this season with Alexandre Lacazette, so hopefully he’s doing the same with Mesut Ozil. Either way with us falling behind Liverpool and Tottenham, this is a must win match.