Both Arsenal and Chelsea are facing significant injury issues ahead of their Derby on Tuesday night at Stamford Bridge. The two clubs have also been in poor form recently, making this an attractive fixture for a neutral, despite what the table says.
Chelsea v Arsenal Preview
Arsenal Team News
The Gunners have two long-term injuries to contend with. First is summer signing Kieran Tierney who last played against West Ham United on 9 December. The Scottish international suffered a dislocated shoulder and is still in rehabilitation.
Second is Calum Chambers, who suffered an anterior crucial ligament injury against the Blues the last time the two faced each other. He will miss the remainder of the season.
Hector Bellerin has been in and out of the squad since recovering from a ligament injury of his own. The full-back did make the bench last time out against the Blades so should be fit for Tuesday.
Finally, head coach Mikel Arteta confirmed a new injury to Reiss Nelson. It is a hamstring issue which occurred in training: “The doctors are still deciding how long it’s going to take, but it’s not looking good.”
There is no timetable for his return. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will also serve the second of his three-match ban against the Blues.
Chelsea Team News
Chelsea, meanwhile, have a number of absentees of their own. Marco van Ginkel has recently returned to training after over a year away from action, but is far off from full match fitness.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek has also returned to training after a long-term issue of his own. Frank Lampard has confirmed that he is training with the youth sides to gain match fitness. Christian Pulisic will also miss out.
The United States international missed Chelsea’s win over Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup and hasn’t returned to training as yet. Lampard reports he is still a few weeks away from first-team action.
Marcos Alonso missed Chelsea’s loss to Newcastle United and win against Burnley. He suffered a muscle injury which saw him sidelined but he will be hopeful of a return against Arsenal.
Finally, Reece James had to be withdrawn against Newcastle. Frank Lampard was unable to confirm after the match whether or not the injury would keep him out of the London Derby between Chelsea and Arsenal.
Arsenal and Chelsea Recent Form
The Gunners have just one win in their last five matches, accumulating six points along the way. That was a 2-0 triumph against Manchester United but that stretch also includes the 2-1 loss to Chelsea at home.
The other three were drawn, all by a score of 1-1. The Blues, meanwhile, took seven points from their last five and have won twice in that span. Those wins came against Burnley and Arsenal.
A draw against Brighton & Hove Albion and losses against Newcastle and Southampton make up the other three matches. So, along with suffering with injuries, both Chelsea and Arsenal are both struggling for form.
The table shows a ten-point gap between the two with the Blues on 39 points in fourth and the Gunners on 29 and in tenth. However, the recent form and recent meeting suggests the two are not far off in terms of quality at the moment.
Both clubs are also struggling to keep the ball out of the net. Chelsea have given up 30 goals this season and Arsenal have shipped 32, those are two of the three most goals allowed out of the clubs in the top half of the table this season.
Although Chelsea will hold the advantage as they play at home, they and Arsenal will be well-matched on Tuesday night. Neither have played good defence this year, neither are in terribly good form and both are dealing with injury issues.
All that spells a match where both sides will perhaps start timid but by the second half, both will be thirsty for goals. Neither will want to make the first mistake and risk going behind early, however, both are in need of points in lieu of recent results.
That should assure the neutral fan of an attacking, open match after the interval or perhaps even before. Don’t expect a clean sheet for either side at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night.
With all that said, Frank Lampard’s Chelsea should have what it takes to get by Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal, but only just.
Predicted score: Chelsea 3 Arsenal 2
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