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PMB: Chelsea v Arsenal - talking points

Having started with an away win, the team are back at the Bridge this weekend. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton set the scene…


Maurizio Sarri and several new players make their Premier League Stamford Bridge bow this weekend. Chelsea’s second match of the league season brings the first capital clash of the campaign, and the oldest in the top flight.

It is the first league game against a Gunners side not managed by Arsene Wenger since a 3-3 draw at Highbury in September 1996. Former Blue Stewart Houston was the north Londoners’ caretaker at the time following Bruce Rioch’s sacking.

Last season’s lively stalemate ended a run of five successive victories for west London in this fixture.

Chelsea are unbeaten at the Bridge in the past six league visits by Arsenal, winning five times and drawing once.

photo of Key stat Key stat

Often there is not much to analyse when just one league game has been played. Not so after the cool thrashing of Huddersfield Town, the first time Chelsea have scored three goals on the opening weekend of the league since 2010.

In fact, Saturday brought Chelsea’s biggest victory in the opening fixture of the league season away from home for 54 years (equalling the club’s best-ever opening day on the road in a top-flight season). Back in August 1964 it as Bobby Tambling (two) and Terry Venables who helped the Blues to a great win at Wolves.

Biggest opening day away wins

The Blues also etched a soon-to-be-forgotten landmark on the tablet of English football by becoming the first team ever to beat Terriers five times on the trot at home.

In that win, which momentarily placed us top of the league, Jorginho’s assured spot-kick made him the 22nd Chelsea player to score on their Premier League debut.


According to Opta, only seven players from any club have scored from the spot when making their maiden bow. The Blues midfielder has netted 10 of his 11 penalties in the European leagues for Verona, Napoli and Chelsea.

In a new role playing slightly higher up the field in front of Jorginho, N’Golo Kante netted the opener, his first Premier League goal since September.


- Only starting debuts listed. Clean sheets on debut as a sub are not included.

- Outfield players Bob Mackie (1905) and David Webb (1971) both started in goal on one occasion and kept a clean sheet but it was not on their debut for the club.

Ronald Brebner                  27 Oct 1906     Grimsby (h)                  W 2-0 Div 2
Jack Whitley                       23 Sep 1907      Newcastle (h)              W 2-0 Div 1
Colin Hampton                  25 Apr 1914       Everton (h)                  W 2-0 Div 1
Frank Higgs                        28 Sep 1929      Tottenham (h)             W 3-0 Div 2
Vic Woodley                       29 Aug 1931      Middlesbrough (a)      W 2-0 Div 1
Bill G Robertson                21 Apr 1951        Liverpool (h)               W 1-0 Div 1
Peter Bonetti                      2 Apr 1960        Man City (h)                W 3-0 Div 1
Alex Stepney                      3 Sep 1966       Southampton (a)         W 3-0 Div 1
Petar Borota                       3 Mar 1979       Liverpool (h)                D 0-0 Div 1
Eddie Niedzwiecki             27 Aug 1983     Derby (h)                      W 5-0 Div 2
Dave Beasant                     14 Jan 1989      Crystal Palace (h)         W 1-0 Div 2
Neil Sullivan                        3 Dec 2003     Reading (a)                   W 1-0 LC
Petr Cech                            15 Aug 2004    Man United (h)             W 1-0 PL
Henrique Hilario                18 Oct 2006    Barcelona (h)                W 1-0 CL
Mark Schwarzer                24 Sep 2013     Swindon (a)                  W 2-0 LC
Kepa Arrizabalaga             11 Aug 2018     Huddersfield (a)            W 3-0 PL

This weekend’s visiting goalkeeper Petr Cech managed three straight clean sheets from debut for Chelsea in 2004.

Three other Chelsea players share Kepa’s current distinction of playing one whole game in goal and keeping a clean sheet. The only goalkeeper among the trio was future Man United legend Alex Stepney (September 1966). Bob Mackie (October 1905) and David Webb (December 1971) were both outfield players, temporarily handed glove duty for the day.

You now have to go all the way back to Coventry in 1998 to find Chelsea’s most recent opening day defeat on the road. Last weekend’s win took the Blues above this Saturday’s visitors for points earned on the road in the Premier League era. Only three clubs have managed 800 or more.

Premier League away points
925 Manchester United
802 Chelsea
800 Arsenal

Meanwhile, on Sunday, Unai Emery became the first permanent Gunners boss to make a losing start since Terry Neill 42 years ago (a 0-1 home defeat to Bristol City after a similar long, hot summer). Wenger ruled the roost for more than half that period, however.

This match is one three currently scheduled for the 5.30pm Saturday kick-off slot. The next is at home to Liverpool and the third is at Tottenham.

Visitors to Stamford Bridge will notice several changes on Saturday evening, notably for supporters with a disability. The club has reconfigured parts of the stadium to accommodate more than double the previous number of wheelchair positions for home and away supporters, as well as 300 amenity and easy-access seats.

The signage around the ground has also been upgraded and there are new photo-opportunities graphics. More information can be found here

Next up

Newcastle could be without Florian Lejeune and Deandre Yedlin (pictured) for the Blues’ visit next weekend. The Magpies, who lost their opening home game to Spurs, are live on TV this Saturday lunchtime at Cardiff City.

Emma Hayes’ double-winners start the defence of their Women’s Super League title at Kingsmeadow on Sunday with Brighton the visitors. Tickets can be bought here.

Chelsea’s development squad are at the Bridge next Friday for the Premier League 2 visit of Derby County. Might the Rams’ senior team coaches Frank Lampard and Jody Morris take the opportunity to visit their alma mater? In the meantime the Under-18s entertain Leicester at midday on Saturday at Cobham.