Chelsea face their first real test of the new season, following their impressive 3-0 victory over Huddersfield, as their new era under Maurizio Sarri begins.
However, the stakes are arguably higher for Unai Emery’s Arsenal side, who faced serious criticism for their choice of tactics as they fell 2-0 to champions Manchester City. Fans will be hoping for a much better performance against their local rivals.
Chelsea 3-5 Arsenal (Premier League, 2011/12)
One of the most memorable clashes between the London rivals came in 2011, as both sides seemingly forgot how to defend and instead unleashed everything they had in attack. Both sides had led during the encounter, but defensive errors cost the Blues greatly.
Frank Lampard gave Chelsea a lead after 14 minutes, but Robin van Persie levelled the score after 36 minutes. John Terry put Chelsea ahead from a corner, but Arsenal emerged from the half time break to hit two goals in ten minutes to give Arsenal the lead.
Juan Mata equalised for Chelsea with eight minutes to go, but an infamous slip from Terry allowed van Persie to capitalise and give Arsenal the lead once more. A stoppage time goal from van Persie closed out an encounter that “could have been 10-10” according to the BBC.
Eden Hazard vs Hector Bellerin
After making a cameo appearance against Huddersfield, Eden Hazard may well be in line to start his first match under Maurizio Sarri. The Belgian looked electric, giving Arsenal a good idea of what to expect from him on Saturday.
If not from the start, he will certainly feature at some point during the game, and will most likely line up opposite Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin. Arsenal struggled to contain Manchester City’s attacking players, and will not have an easier task in subduing Hazard.
Bellerin will once again have the responsibility of tracking Hazard throughout the game, but Hazard has tended to get the better of Bellerin in the past, including winning a penalty after being fouled by the Spaniard last season.
Hazard’s inclusion is likely to be the only major change for Chelsea, and it remains to be seen which of Willian, Pedro or Alvaro Morata will be replaced by the Belgian. Cesc Fabregas, who missed the clash with Huddersfield Town, will likely miss out due to injury, meaning new signing Mateo Kovacic may feature for his Chelsea debut.
For Arsenal, Unai Emery faces somewhat of a defensive crisis. Sead Kolasinac is injured, Nacho Monreal has only recently returned to training after suffering a knee injury, and makeshift left back Ainsley Maitland-Niles limped off during the clash with Manchester City.
Emery has confirmed that Petr Cech will remain in the team despite his disappointing performance against the champions, meaning new signing Bernd Leno will be forced to wait for his Arsenal debut.
Chelsea: Kepa; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Rudiger, Alonso; Jorginho, Kante, Barkley; Hazard, Morata, Pedro.
Arsenal: Cech; Bellerin, Sokratis, Mustafi, Lichtsteiner; Torreira, Xhaka; Mkhitaryan, Ramsey, Ozil; Aubameyang.
Arsenal came out on top when the two sides met as part of their pre-season, but the situation has changed greatly since then.
Chelsea have welcomed back Willian, Kante and Hazard, whilst Kepa is an exciting addition to the starting XI. However, they looked uninspiring for a large part of their match with Huddersfield, and will be hoping Hazard can bring some much-needed flair to their attack.
Arsenal will be looking to make a statement following all the criticism directed towards Emery and his players. He will have to decide whether they continue to take the risk of playing out from the back, or change the tactics to help ease his side to a better chance of a result.
Predicted Scoreline: Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal