It is time to ring in the new and we do so with the next instalment of a very old fixture. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton get their 2018 previews underway…
Chelsea have clashed with Arsenal competitively more times than any other opponent: tonight is our 193rd meeting. We are one goal from our 100th at Arsenal in the league.
This will be the first evening game under floodlights there since December 2013, and the Blues approach the latest trip in decent nick. Over the past eight away matches only two sides have stacked up more points on the road than Antonio Conte’s, while Arsenal rank fourth among home teams.
Following the busy Christmas schedule, a second victory in three league visits to the Emirates Stadium would lift the champions 10 points clear of the Gunners, who currently lie sixth.
Chelsea scored an average of 2.2 goals per game in 2017.
January takes its name from Janus, a Roman god with two faces: one looking back, the other forwards.
Looking back, only two teams have won more Premier League points in a calendar year than Manchester City in 2017 (98) – Manchester United in 1993 (102) and Chelsea in 2005 (101).
In 2017 the Blues played nine games more than in 2016. Cesar Azpilicueta completed the most minutes in the calendar year (4,782) and Eden Hazard scored the most goals (16).
2018 ushers in a string of anniversaries: it is 110 years since the Pensioners finished the season as London’s leading club for the first time; 80 since the club signed our first black player, Fred Hanley (he did not make a first-team appearance); 60 since the Blues debuted on the European stage in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup; 25 since Glenn Hoddle began to inspire a revolution at Stamford Bridge; 20 since a unique treble of cup successes was achieved under Gianluca Vialli; and 15 since Roman Abramovich’s arrival ensured English football would never be the same again.
The new year also brings the first anniversary of Chelsea’s sixth and most-recent title triumph, the campaign for which it really kicked into gear halfway through the defeat at tonight’s match venue. Trailing 0-3 at the break, Antonio Conte switched to three at the back, and the rest is history.
Despite finishing 18 points adrift of the champions in the league last year, the Gunners came back to haunt the Blues twice, in the FA Cup and Community Shield. Now, with three games against them in as many weeks across two competitions this month, it would be nice to make amends.
This is Arsenal’s second London derby at the Emirates (the other being a 2-0 win against Spurs), and the last of Chelsea’s four on the road. The Blues previously triumphed at Tottenham but slipped up at West Ham and Crystal Palace.
We do not have much to thank Palace for this campaign, but their recent draw with Manchester City ended the league leaders’ chance of superseding the Blues’ Premier League record of 11 consecutive away victories, set between 6 April and 7 December 2008.
Chelsea’s epic run started with a 2-0 win at the Etihad and included another 3-1 success there in the September.
THE BEST THAT CAN HAPPEN THIS EVENING…
A 100th-goal salute at the Arsenal, and back up to second place.
Premier League clean sheets
David De Gea (Man Utd) 12
Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea) 11
Ederson (Man City) 11
Nick Pope (Burnley) 10
Petr Cech (Arsenal) 9
Premier League fixtures
Arsenal v Chelsea 7.45pm - Sky Sports
Tottenham v West Ham 8pm - Sky Sports
Premier League table - top half
Chelsea in Numbers
Antonio Conte’s team have conceded just four goals in our past 12 Premier League matches, keeping eight clean sheets in that run.
The Blues had more shots on target against Stoke (12) than in any other game this season. Stoke managed only one shot on goal and no corners.
Eden Hazard has had a hand in 15 goals in his past 16 games in all competitions for Chelsea (eight goals, four assists and three aids, as judged by the club statistician).
Chelsea have scored 13 headed goals in the Premier League this term (17 in all competitions), more than any other club.
Twenty-one of the Blues’ league goals have been scored by Spanish players. That is more than for any other side in Europe’s big five leagues, including Spain’s Primera Liga.
Past six games
12 December - Huddersfield (a) - W 3-1
16 December - Southampton (h) - W 1-0
20 December - Bournemouth (h) - W 2-1
23 December - Everton (a) - D 0-0
26 December - Brighton (h) - W 2-0
30 December - Stoke (h) - W 5-0
Premier League scorers
Morata 10, Alonso 5, Hazard 5 (1 pen), Pedro 4, Willian 3 (1 pen), Bakayoko 2, Batshuayi 2, Rudiger 2, Azpilicueta 1, David Luiz 1, Drinkwater 1, Fabregas 1, Kante 1, Zappacosta 1
League games since
An away win: 1
An away draw: 0
An away defeat: 2
CHELSEA’S NEXT THREE GAMES
Chelsea v Norwich
Saturday 6 January
Chelsea v Arsenal
Wednesday 10 January
Chelsea v Leicester
Saturday 13 January
ARSENAL IN NUMBERS
13 League championships, last in 2004
13 FA Cups, last in 2017
2 League Cups, last in 1993
15 FA Charity/Community Shields (1 shared), last in 2017
1 European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1994
1 Fairs Cup in 1970
Arsenal remain unbeaten in six Premier League games since Manchester United won at the Emirates on 2 December.
The Gunners have won 25 points from a possible 30 at home this season. Their eight wins were against Leicester, Bournemouth, West Brom, Brighton, Swansea, Tottenham, Huddersfield and Newcastle, with one draw with Liverpool and the one defeat to Manchester United.
They have kept six clean sheets in their 10 home Premier League matches but have conceded three goals in three of the other four games.
Only Manchester City and Manchester United have won more points at home this term than Arsenal.
Against West Brom on Sunday, Arsene Wenger overtook Sir Alex Ferguson by taking charge of his 811th Premier League game.
Manager Arsene Wenger
Days in charge: 7,765
Arsene Wenger’s managerial record against Chelsea
ARSENAL'S PAST 10 YEAR LEAGUE HISTORY
ARSENAL'S PAST SIX GAMES
Premier League scorers
Lacazette 8 (1 pen), Sanchez 7 (1 pen), Giroud 4, Ozil 4, Ramsey 3, Welbeck 3, Monreal 2, Mustafi 2, Kolasinac 1, Iwobi 1, Mertesacker 1, Xhaka 1, own goal 1.
League games since
A home win: 1
A home draw: 0
A home defeat: 2
Last Premier League match
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Anthony Taylor is the official for his fourth Blues game this season. His previous three were against Man Utd (home), and the trips to Tottenham and West Ham.
There are no suspensions.
Visit again later for more Pre-Match Briefing