PMB: Arsenal v Chelsea - matchday

The final part of the Pre-Match Briefing gets you ready for today's game..

• Maurizio Sarri will urge his team to maintain the high-tempo intensity of which we are capable and that can unsettle hosts Arsenal. He likes the defensive balance provided by having Eden Hazard in the middle of the front three, and the Belgian showed his value there last weekend by luring five opponents to him before the astute lay-off to Willian that won the match.

• The Brazilian’s trademark curling finish means he needs one goal for his half-century for the Blues. Olivier Giroud, meanwhile, will hope to join onetime Gunners Emmanuel Petit, Nicolas Anelka and Cesc Fabregas in notching against his former club.

Quiz: They played for both

• Another feature of last Saturday’s win against Newcastle was N’Golo Kante regularly winning possession more centrally and closer to the opposition goal than has sometimes been the case. However, Sarri is not comfortable with other aspects of his midfield, admitting he missed the option of calling on departed specialist central midfielder Fabregas during the Newcastle match when Jorginho’s passing radar was not quite at its best. The boss did identify Ethan Ampadu as a possible future option for that role.


• During an open encounter at the Bridge earlier this season that ended 3-2 (but could have been 6-5), both sides exploited weaknesses on their opponents’ flanks. Following their defeat at West Ham last weekend, Arsenal have conceded more goals at this stage of a Premier League season only once previously, in 2011/12.

• Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka has made five errors leading to goals – the most by an outfield player in this season’s top flight. Only Fulham have kept fewer league clean sheets this season than the Gunners’ two.

• Unai Emery has previously faced the Blues three times with Valencia and Arsenal and has not tasted victory. Having experimented with a 4-diamond-2 since his arrival he appears to have settled on a 3-4-2-1 formation led by Alexandre Lacazette, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alex Iwobi finding space in support.

Maurizio Sarri's pre-match quotes

‘Arsenal are doing well at home so it is a very difficult and dangerous for us, and it is also a great opportunity for us.

‘They have really very dangerous movements in the offensive phase without the ball, especially when our full-back is out of the line to cover the ball, so we have to be careful and we worked on this during the week.

‘I think we can be dangerous against this opponent but we have to defend with a very high level of application and attention for 95 minutes.’

Arsenal boss Unai Emery’s pre-match quotes

‘After our loss to West Ham it is a big difference to be six points behind Chelsea instead of three points behind. But the next match is against Chelsea and the opportunity we have is not the same, but if we win we have the opportunity to be closer to them.

‘And we can then continue our way in the 38 matches in the Premier League. Every player has this ambition. To play Saturday with all we can against them.’

Squad news

Ruben Loftus-Cheek




Rob Holding
Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Danny Welbeck



Matchday weather outlook

Chilly, cloudy but dry in London’s Holloway area at match time.

- Click for travel news

More from chelsea