6:45 AM (AEDST) Thursday, January 4 at Emirates Stadium, London
Round 22 of the Premier League draws to a close with a huge clash taking place between hosts Arsenal and defending champions Chelsea.
Arsenal: Cech; Monreal, Koscieiny, Mustafi; Kolasinac, Xhaka, Ramsey, Bellerin; Sanchez, Lacazette, Ozil.
Chelsea: Courtois; Cahill, Luiz, Azpilicueta; Alonso, Bakayoko, Fabregas, Zappacosta; Hazard, Willian; Morata.
There have been 161 games between these two heavyweight sides, with the Gunners winning 62 games to Chelsea’s 51 wins, while 48 games have been drawn. There last clash was earlier this season and resulted in a scoreless draw.
Arsenal spent plenty of time last season as one of the top 3 teams on the ladder and were looking set to challenge firmly for the top spot, but an inconsistent run home saw them drop down to fifth place on the table by the end of the year. They opened this season with a tough 4-3 win over Leicester City before surprisingly dropping their second round clash with Stoke 1-0. They were then hammered 4-0 by Liverpool before hitting back with a 3-0 win over Bournemouth. After the Gunners played out a scoreless draw with Chelsea, they beat both West Brom and then Brighton 2-0 before dropping their game against the Wasps 2-1. They since beat Everton 5-2 and Swansea 2-1 before going down to Manchester City 3-1. They bounced back with a strong 2-0 win over the Spurs, 1-0 over Burnley and then flogging Huddersfield 5-0. The Gunners then lost to Man U 3-1 before scoring back to back draws with Southampton and the Hammers. Last week they toppled the lowly Newcastle 1-0. They had a 3 all draw with Liverpool prior to a 3-2 win over Crystal Palace before a 1 all draw last week with West Brom.
Defending champions Chelsea will be hoping to return to their impressive form from last season which saw them win 30 of their 38 games. They opened their Premier League campaign with a shock 3-2 loss to Burnley, but bounced back to topple the second best side last season, Tottenham, 2-1 to get their season underway. They then beat Everton 2-0 and Leicester City 2-1 before a scoreless draw with Arsenal in Round 5. The Blues then belted Stoke 4-0 before dropping consecutive games to League leaders Manchester City 1-0 and the last placed Crystal Palace 2-1. They bounced back with wins against Watford 4-2 and Bournemouth 1-0. Chelsea then overcame fellow heavyweights Manchester United 1-0 and then hammered West Brom 4-0. Chelsea were then held to a draw with Liverpool before beating Swansea 1-0 and Newcastle 3-1. After they went down to the Hammers 1-0, Chelsea has beaten Huddersfield 3-1 and Southampton 1-0, then drew nil all with Chelsea before beating Brighton 2-0 and Stoke 5-0.
Forwards – These two sides are very evenly matched up front, with Chelsea’s defence noticeably better.
Chelsea will be the favourite here, narrowly, but Arsenal on home soil will be tough to beat.