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