- The EPL season reaches Match Day 20 – the start of its second half
- It’s a massive London derby at the Emirates as Arsenal entertain Chelsea
- Arsenal’s first home game under new manager Mikel Arteta – check our preview below for a prediction
The Christmas period is hectic in the EPL, the games come thick and fast. This weekend also signals the start of the second half of the season. On Sunday, two of the league’s ‘big six’ meet, as Arsenal and Chelsea go head-to-head at the Emirates Stadium (Sunday, December 29 at 9am ET).
Both teams have had difficult seasons for different reasons and will be keen to sign off 2019 with a win to give them momentum heading into the new year. Who’ll get lucky? We’ll take a look and see if we can also identify some value bets.
Arsenal vs Chelsea Odds
|Arsenal||pk ,+1 (-127)||+178||O 3 (-109)|
|Chelsea||pk ,-1 (+107)||+140||U 3 (-111)|
All odds taken Dec. 28
All Change at The Emirates
It’s been a traumatic season for the Gooners, who expected to see their team push on in Unai Emery’s second full season in the EPL – but it didn’t work out. Their form was patchy at best and coupled with an equally inconsistent run of results, the Arsenal board called time on Emery’s time in the hot seat. It was inevitable.
A lengthy recruitment process was finally concluded when they managed to lure Mikel Arteta away from his position at Man City as Pep Guardiola’s assistant. As a former Arsenal player of some distinction, he will be afforded time to build a team by the Gooners, which is important given the size of the task he has been set.
The new boss has his say on his first game in chargehttps://t.co/Q28EeJdsSu
— OfficialAFC_US (@OfficialAFC_US) December 26, 2019
While the Gunner have talent in attacking areas – especially with the dual-threat of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette – they have struggled defensively and Emery’s odd decision in the summer to bring in former Chelsea center-back David Luiz to tighten up the defense has backfired. For all his undoubted talent, Luiz has only added to their defensive uncertainty.
Arteta Era Begins with Draw at Bournemouth
In his first game in the Arsenal technical area, Arteta cut a frustrated but energetic figure as he watched his new team draw 1-1 away at Bournemouth – a game notable for an increase in intensity and desire from the Arsenal team. Arteta also found a place for the talented Mezut Ozil, who found himself at odds with Emery and, more recently, caretaker manager Freddie Ljungberg.
So, it’ll take time for Arteta to make his mark and find his best team – he’ll likely be active in the January transfer window – but a win against London rivals will be the ideal way to kick-start his tenure. I expect an Arsenal performance full of fire and passion.
As a former Arsenal player of some distinction, Arteta will be afforded time to build a team by the Gooners
Arsenal vs Chelsea Head-to-Head
|5 / 19||No. of EPL wins in 2019/20 / No. of games played||10 / 19|
|5||No. of EPL defeats||7|
|11th||Current position in EPL||4th|
|25 / 1.32||Goals scored / Per game||33 / 1.74|
|229 / 78||Shots / Shots on target||315 / 112|
|28 / 1.47||Goals conceded / Per game||27 / 1.42|
Lampard Relies On Youth
For Chelsea, their new era is already six months in. Frank Lampard’s summer arrival was not dissimilar to Arteta’s in that he too returned to a club where he excelled as a player. Unlike Arteta, he was unable to bring any new players in as Chelsea were under a transfer embargo. Under appeal, that ban has now been lifted for January.
In the absence of new signings, Lampard has relied on the club’s young players and for the most part they have delivered. Tammy Abrahams, Mason Mount and, to a lesser extent, Reece James and Callum Hudson-Odoi have all taken opportunities that otherwise may have been handed to more experienced players.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) December 26, 2019
The Blues’ season has been a good one but the problem has been inconsistency, particularly of late. Following a deflating home defeat by Bournemouth, last weekend Lampard’s men went away to Tottenham and won 2-0 in thrilling style, only to then lose 2-0 at home to Southampton on Boxing Day. So the big question is, which Chelsea will turn up at the Emirates?
In the Blues’ favor, and as borne out by their win at Tottenham, they have the third-best away record in the EPL, and so they’ll head to the Emirates with confidence despite the Southampton result. Playing away from Stamford Bridge clearly suits them right now, especially with the pace they have in the team which they use when playing on the break.
With both teams full of attacking areas yet vulnerable defensively, I expect there to be goals. I also expect Arsenal to play well, but whether they have quite enough to get over the line against a Chelsea team full of energy and verve is another thing. The value here looks to be with the draw, maybe a 2-2 finish.
Pick: Arsenal and Chelsea to draw (+240)