Chelsea begin a run of fixtures that could define their season when they entertain Arsenal at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Tuesday (3:15pm ET).
Chelsea are the current occupants of the fourth place, the final Champions League qualifying position. Despite the problems and inconsistencies of some of their presumed challengers, they have not been able to solidify that position as much as they might have done.
Frank Lampard’s side have good underlying numbers and are still the favorites with the US online bookmakers to hold onto it, but they have stumbled often enough over the last couple of months to think the race is far from over. They had already lost to West Ham, Everton, Bournemouth and Southampton before falling again away to Newcastle on Saturday.
Chelsea dominated possession but toiled a little in turning that into chances. They did still create the two best opportunities during the normal 90 minutes of play, with Tammy Abraham unable to convert a couple of presentable second-half openings. Newcastle then didn’t err when such a chance fell their way in stoppage time and so came away with the three points.
It was the fourth of those five defeats to bottom half teams in which Chelsea had failed to score. Lampard did sound slightly concerned in his post-match press conference about his side’s inability to score in these kinds of fixtures. They have certainly created enough chances in those games to have achieved a better series of results. Perhaps he just needs their luck to turn a bit.
That is all well and good at the moment but Chelsea may not be in a position to be quite as philosophical about their situation in four fixtures time. Tuesday’s match begins a run of potentially difficult encounters that will subsequently see them travel to third-placed Leicester before hosting Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, two of their would-be challengers. A poor haul from those fixtures could really compact the top-four race.
Arsenal had expected to be a part of that contest but they are barely in the top 10. The Gunners are closer on points to the relegation zone than they are to the top four. A full 10 points separates them from Chelsea past the midway point of the campaign.
Neither have results really picked up since Mikel Arteta left his job as assistant coach to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City to become Arsenal’s new permanent head coach towards the end of December. In that time, Arsenal have recorded one victory and one defeat, alongside draws away to Bournemouth and Crystal Palace and at home to Sheffield United.
The most recent of those ties came on Saturday at the Emirates. Arsenal took the lead late in the first half through young forward Gabriel Martinelli but struggled to make the most of that advantage to control things during the second half. Sheffield United had missed a good early chance and finally found the back of the net inside the final 10 minutes to level the scores in a match in which chances were evenly distributed.
Arteta’s matches in charge to date have provided evidence of a few tactical and personnel tweaks in comparison to the work of Unai Emery and subsequent interim head coach Freddie Ljungberg. He needs time to instil his ideas and Arsenal may well choose simply to write off the rest of the season provided progress is made on that front, but so far, little has changed in terms of top-line results.
It is one of the quirks of the fixture list at this time of year that Chelsea are actually one of the five Premier League opponents Arteta has already faced in his short tenure on the Arsenal bench. His side seemed to be heading for victory when they met at the Emirates at the end of December, only for Chelsea to score twice inside the final 10 minutes to take the win.
Our Betting Preview’s Chelsea vs Arsenal Predictions & Picks Opinion
Tuesday’s match could go a similar way. Arsenal have scored in all five of their matches under Arteta, while Chelsea’s fixtures have averaged exactly three goals this season. That is the sixth highest mark in the league. Backing Chelsea to win in a match in which both teams score looks a good approach. So this is our Chelsea vs Arsenal prediction:
- Bet on Chelsea to win on the ‘match result and both teams to score’ market @ +235 with Bovada. To do this, go to their ‘match result & both teams to score’ market and bet on ‘Chelsea & yes’.