With the Gunners currently sitting in 15th place in the Premier League and without a victory in their last 8 league fixtures, losing 6 in the process, the pressure is on boss Mikel Arteta to get his side back on track. And there is no better chance for them to do so than in this fixture, a matchup that saw Arsenal win the FA Cup Final 2-1 last season.
Chelsea, meanwhile, have also been underwhelming as of late, albeit to a lesser extent than their opponents. Defeats in their last two away games at Everton and Wolverhampton Wanderers has tainted their realistic chances of a title push this season, but after victory over West Ham United on Monday night at Stamford Bridge, the Blues regained their position as the highest placed London team in the division going into Christmas. With it being extremely tight around the top 4 places, Chelsea dare not afford to drop points any time soon.
- Team News
Arsenal will continue to be without summer signing Thomas Partey following the injury he suffered against Tottenham Hotspur, and Arteta will be sweating on the availability of a few other key players in the build up to the match. Star man Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has missed Arsenal's last two fixtures with a calf injury but is in contention for this game, while young prospect Gabriel Martinelli has recently returned from a long term lay off but could miss the Chelsea clash following a shin injury suffered in the league cup against Manchester City.
Chelsea will be without both first choice full backs after manager Frank Lampard confirmed in his press conference that both Reece James and Ben Chilwell will miss the Blues' next two games with knee and ankle injuries, respectively. They will also be without winger Hakim Ziyech, who remains out with a hamstring injury, but should have youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi back available following a similar injury after he was an unused substitute on Monday night.
- Predicted Lineups
Arsenal: Leno; Holding, Gabriel, Tierney; Maitland-Niles, Elneny, Ceballos, Saka; Pepe, Lacazette, Willian.
Chelsea: Mendy; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Silva, Emerson; Kovacic, Kante, Mount; Werner, Abraham, Pulisic.
- Ones to Watch
Following a few missed chances on Monday night against West Ham, Timo Werner will be one to watch in this fixture as he looks to try and retain the form that he was showing for RB Leipzig last season which saw him net 34 goals and got him his move to Chelsea in the summer.
Werner has continued to look a threat in the Chelsea side despite his lack of goals in recent weeks, providing key assists to central striker Tammy Abraham against Newcastle United and West Ham, as well as providing for Christian Pulisic late on against Leeds United. With the continued absence of Hakim Ziyech, Werner has been often utilised in an unfamiliar right wing position, which will see the German face off against Arsenal's left sided defender Kieran Tierney.
In a team of underperforming players, Scotland international Kieran Tierney has been one of the exceptions, still delivering strong performances from either left centre back, left back or left wing back. With his strong delivery, constant work rate, and solid defensive capabilities, Tierney has had his fair share of admirers since arriving at Arsenal from Celtic in summer 2019. Going to face to face with the rapid Werner will be a challenge for Tierney, but will likely ultimately result in one on of the most intriguing battles of the fixture.
This corresponding fixture last season saw Chelsea come from behind to beat Arsenal 2-1 in Mikel Arteta's first match in charge of the club. Arsenal took the lead early on with a header from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but late goals from Jorginho and Tammy Abraham secured all three points for Frank Lampard's side.
However, the last meeting between the two sides saw Arsenal come out on top, winning 2-1 in the FA Cup Final at Wembley in August. An early strike for Christian Pulisic was cancelled out by a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang penalty before half time. Aubameyang then scored again in the second half before Chelsea's Mateo Kovacic saw red, and Arsenal managed to see out victory against the ten men of Chelsea.
How to Watch
Arsenal vs. Chelsea will kick off at 5:30pm GMT on Saturday 26th December 2020, and is available to watch on Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Main Event.