Gun­ners to the ’Bridge

Conte’s Chelsea on a roll host an Arse­nal side still to make its mark this sea­son

The New Age (Northern Cape) - - MATCH OF THE DAY -

ARSE­NAL’S clash with Chelsea a year ago marked the turn­ing point in a sea­son that fin­ished with the Pre­mier League ti­tle head­ing to An­to­nio Conte’s side at Stam­ford Bridge.

De­spite Arsene Wenger’s team in­flict­ing a 30 de­feat on their ri­vals at The Emi­rates that day, Conte used the ex­peri- ence to change his for­ma­tion and Chelsea went on a 13match win­ning league run.

For Arse­nal, it was to be their only vic­tory all sea­son against any of the teams who fin­ished in the top four.

The north Lon­don club came fifth, miss­ing out on the Cham­pi­ons League for the first time in 20 years and thus go into Sun­day’s show­down at Stam­ford Bridge off the back of a Thurs­day night match against Cologne in the Europa League.

Chelsea, mean­while, will have had a four­day break fol­low­ing their Cham- pi­ons League maul­ing of Qarabag on Tues­day. y. Although the cir­cum­stances are dif­fer­ent from this is time last year, when Arse­nal were in the he Cham­pi­ons League and Chelsea were re not even in Europe, it is busi­ness as usual for Wenger. “Wed­nes­day night or Thurs­day night is no dif­fer­ent for us, apart from the fact that it’s a dif­fer­ent com­pe­ti­tion, but when you play on Wed­nes­day- Satur­day it’s sim­i­lar to Thurs­daySun­day,” the French­man said this week. The pres­sure will be on Arse­nal to avoid a third suc­ces­sive league de­feat on the road hav­ing al­ready come un­stuck at Stoke City and Liver­pool, where they were thrashed 40. Chelsea, on the other hand, have once again learned from their mis­takes to put to­gether a three­match win­ning run fol­low­ing a shock open­ing- day home de­feat by Burn­ley. Af­ter their 60 vic­tory at h home to woeful Az­eri side Qarabag on Tues­day, Chelsea goal­keeper Thibaut Cour­tois said they were rel- ish­ing the prospect of fac­ing the Gun­ners. “Some- times it is good to face a big team early. Last year it didn’t work out against Liv- er­pool and Arse­nal, but this sea­son we have al­ready won at Tot­ten­ham. It is good to face Arse­nal now,” he said. “We are do­ing well. Af­ter that bad first half against Burn­ley, I think all our per­for­mances have been good. We have shown good spirit, good foot­ball and good wins most im­por­tantly of all.” – Reuters The match against Chelsea is a good op­por­tu­nity to show we can cope. We played on Wed­nes­day night in Barcelona and against Ever­ton on Satur­day morn­ing. It is a pre­con­ceived idea, foot­ball is down to how you per­form on the day. Three days is plenty of time to re­cover.” – Arsene Wenger, Arse­nal coach

PIC­TURE: EPA PIC­TURE: EPA

DAN­GER MAN: Chelsea for­ward Eden Haz­ard. FORCED TO STAY: Arse­nal for­ward Alexis Sanchez.

It was a good start, a per­fect start for us. To play the first game of the Cham­pi­ons League, then to win with a good re­sult, to score many goals, to fin­ish the game with a clean sheet. Now we have to think about the next game, a tough one against Arse­nal.” – An­to­nio Conte, Chelsea coach

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