It’s another huge match for league-leading Chelsea on Oct. 3 as they’re at home at Stamford Bridge to take on London rivals, third-place Arsenal in a huge English Premier League clash. Chelsea sits just four points ahead of its cross-town neighbors after six league games and failed its first big test of the season last weekend with a 1-0 away loss to Manchester City for their only defeat of the season.
Arsenal was also humbled last weekend by losing 3-2 at home to newly promoted West Brom. However, both Arsenal and Chelsea recovered during the week and posted wins in the European Champions League.
Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti is expecting to make the game after attending the funeral of his father, but the team will still probably be missing midfielder Frank Lampard, forward Salomon Kalou, defender Jose Bosingwa, and midfielder Yossi Benayoun. However, striker Didier Drogba, who led the league in scoring last season, is back after being suspended in the 2-0 win over Marseille in midweek due to suspension.
Arsenal will likely be without captain Cesc Fabregas, winger Theo Walcott, forward Robin van Persie, defender Thomas Vermaelen, and forwards Aaron Ramsey, Emmanuel Frimpong, and Nicklas Bendtner. Thankfully the team has a strong squad because the talent that’s sidelined is enormous.
Manager Arsene Wenger needs to decide who to start in goal as first choice Manuel Almunia is prone to costly mistakes and made two of them against West Brom last weekend, even though he did manage to save a penalty that he gave away. Lukasz Fabianski played in goal in the 3-1 win at Partizan Belgrade in midweek and also saved a penalty. Youngster Jack Wilshere also had a good game in Belgrade and might get some playing time.
In 18 EPL games between the two teams at Stamford Bridge, things are all even as each team has won, lost and drawn six times, but Chelsea has won their last three league games against Arsenal, including a 3-0 away win last season and a 2-0 home win.
If Chelsea loses this game, it’ll be the first time in 159 EPL matches that they will have lost two games in a row. The last time it happened was in May of 2006, but they had already clinched the league title by then.
Arsenal is weaker in goal and will be missing some of its best players, but these London derbies are so unpredictable. Still, Chelsea should be able to pull this one out of the hat by two goals at the most.
Sportsbook Bodog has the odds of a Chelsea win posted at 2/3 with an Arsenal win at 4/1 and a draw listed at 27/10.