Arsenal vs Chelsea Preview: New Year begins with fierce London derby

The two London giants kick off 2018 as they clash at The Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal vs Chelsea Preview: New Year begins with fierce London derby
Source: Catherine Ivill/AMA/Getty Images

Chelsea and Arsenal will clash at The Emirates on Wednesday night, marking their respective starts to 2018 and the first of three meetings within the next couple of weeks.

The London rivals played to a 0-0 draw earlier this season at Stamford Bridge, but with the battle for top four heating up, both sides will be aiming to go home with all three points.

Team News

Arsenal: Arsene Wenger's side will continue without key defensive contributors in Nacho Monreal, Laurent Koscielny and Sead Kolasinac on Wednesday night. Mesut Ozil will likely face a late fitness test as he recovers from a knee issue, while Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey will be expected to miss the London derby also.

Alexis Sanchez is set to feature despite growing speculation regarding his future with Arsenal, but the Chilean is staying put for now. Arsenal are coming off a controversial 1-1 draw against West Brom and currently sit in 6th place.

Predicted XI: Cech; Bellerin, Chambers, Mustafi, Maitland-Niles; Wilshere, Xhaka, Ozil; Welbeck, Lacazette, Sanchez.

Chelsea: The Blues are coming off a 5-0 thrashing of Stoke City last week, despite resting Eden Hazard for that game. The Belgian star will head into Wednesday night refreshed and ready to go, but Chelsea will continue without David Luiz. The defender is the only major absence from Chelsea's side as the new year begins, with rumours keeping his future at the club in doubt.

A big win in their last outing could be the spark Chelsea need as they battle for second spot in the league, in what may be a futile chase of Manchester City, who lead the league.

Predicted XI: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Cahill; Moses, Bakayoko, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Hazard, Morata.

Background

Chelsea can retain second place with a win on Wednesday, as they currently sit two points behind Manchester United with a game in hand. On the other hand, Arsenal are in sixth in the table but can leapfrog Tottenham with a win at home. 

Arsenal have had the upper hand slightly in recent times, winning two of the last four competitive meetings, including the 2017 FA Cup Final. In the grand scheme of things, Chelsea have lost just three times to Arsenal since 2012. 

 

 

Since losing to West Ham at the beginning of December, Chelsea are unbeaten in their last six games in all competitions. Arsenal are unbeaten since December 2nd, drawing four and winning four since then. 

Wednesday night marks the first of three meetings between the rivals as their two-legged Carabao Cup Semi Final looms in the coming weeks. A win for either side could set the tone for the cup clash, and perhaps the season.