Two of the top teams in the Premier League will square off in primetime on Saturday when Chelsea and Arsenal meet in the first London Derby of the year. Both teams are aiming for at least a top four finish in order to get the Champions League money that would await them after missing out last year.
Each team brought on a new manager this season in order to accomplish the task. Arsenal hired Paris Saint Germain’s former coach Unai Emery to replace the venerable Arsene Wenger. Wenger had been in charge of the club for 22 seasons, but the time had come for a change this offseason. As for Chelsea, the Blues snagged Maurizio Sarri from Italy to turn things around. Sarri is much more offensive-minded than predecessor Antonio Conte and will look for his club to consistently attack.
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Chelsea vs Arsenal
Date and Time: August 18, 2018, 12:30 p.m. ET
Location: Stamford Bridge, London, England
US Television Coverage: NBC
Betting Line: Chelsea -0.5 and -1, O/U 2.5 and 3
The Gunners began their 2018-19 Premier League campaign at home, but they had the unenviable task of taking on Manchester City. City won the league by a record amount last season, and it seemed like the club only got stronger in the offseason. Arsenal looked pretty hapless against the best team in England, only managing a few shots in a 2-0 loss. The back line was consistently pressured throughout, but we don’t know whether or not that’s a foreboding sign for Arsenal or if City are just that good.
Sarri’s first game went much more smoothly. Chelsea wiped the floor with Huddersfield Town in a 3-0 thrashing on the road in their opener. The Blues defense looked superb in shutting down Huddersfield’s offense, allowing a scant six shots with just one of those ending up on frame. Where they really shined though was on the attack, with N’Golo Kante, Jorginho, and Pedro all netting. That’s an encouraging start for Sarri.
There are two players that are set to miss significant amounts of time for Chelsea. Isaiah Brown and Marco van Ginkel each suffered serious knee ligament injuries recently, and neither player is going to return for some time. There is no official timetable on either player’s return though. Additionally, Chelsea may be without Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas for this match. Cahill is listed as questionable, while Fabregas is doubtful.
Arsenal’s injury woes have continued into the season, and the Gunners have some serious concerns on this front. Center back Laurent Koscielny was a known loss coming into the year and he will return in December. However, new signings Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Sead Kolasinac sustained injuries and both players will be out until October. The same is the case for Carl Jenkinson, who is dealing with a sprained right ankle. The Gunners did get some decent news on this end though. Nacho Monreal and Danny Welbeck are set to return to duty, and that will help the flanks of the defense.
English Premier League Free Picks
Emery is a solid manager, and he will eventually turn things around. He has proven himself in the past, but he is going to need time. Arsenal opted to not break the bank in the offseason in hopes of a quick fix, so instead they are building and developing piece by piece.
Chelsea have the star power and the home field advantage to get it done here. N’Golo Kante and Eden Hazard should rule their respective midfield kingdoms, and Arsenal doesn’t have an answer for either as of yet. Go ahead and grab Chelsea on the three-way line in this one.
English Premier League Prediction: Chelsea 2, Arsenal 1
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