Verdict: Both teams to score
Best Odds: 4/7
With both sides ending their respective poor run of results last weekend, Arsenal and Chelsea will be facing off for the third time in January. With their first leg ending 0-0 at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago, both Antonio Conte and Arsene Wenger will be desperate to book their place in the EFL Cup final in April.
Although Arsene Wenger’s side have now officially begin life after Alexis Sanchez, the Gunners showed no signs of missing their former talisman last weekend. After embarking on a five-match winless run in all competitions, Arsenal immediately bounced back to their attacking best. Scoring four goals in the opening 25 minutes against Crystal Palace at the Emirates on Saturday, the North London club secured a vital 4-1 win and more importantly, Arsene Wenger’s side maintained their hunt for a top-four finish come May. Currently sat sixth in the table, Arsenal are already trying to hunt down a five-point deficit on the lucrative fourth position. With The Gunners already relinquishing their FA Cup trophy, this looks by far the most likely piece of silverware to pick up this season, and as such we can expect a strong selection from Arsene Wenger.
New signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan is cup-tied for Arsenal after appearing in the quarter-finals for his former club Manchester United against Bristol City.
Aaron Ramsey (illness) and Nacho Monreal (leg) will be given every chance to be involved but Olivier Giroud (hamstring) and Danny Welbeck (groin) will definitely miss out for Wenger’s side.
Much like their hosts on Wednesday night, Antonio Conte’s men successfully ended their own individual poor run of form at an important time. After putting four past Premier League debutants Brighton on Saturday afternoon, the Blues will be glad to see that talisman Eden Hazard was back to his influential best. Scoring a brace on the south coast, Chelsea’s 4-0 win last weekend ended a run of five consecutive draws in all competitions, the Blues also needed two attempts and a penalty-shootout to secure their spot in the FA Cup fourth-round after struggling against Championship side Norwich City. Although the defending Premier League champions may face a tough round of 16 Champions League tie against European heavyweights Barcelona, Chelsea too will have their sights set on securing a top-four finish at the end of the season. Conte’s side are currently sat third in the table and have a five-point buffer over fifth-place Tottenham.
Striker Alvaro Morata will be missing for Chelsea with a back injury, while Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas has a hamstring problem so will be unavailable to feature against his former club.
Andreas Christensen is available to play after his head injury, while captain Gary Cahill, midfielder Danny Drinkwater, and Thibaut Courtois are set to be fit for the second leg.
Key Factors to Consider
- This will be the fifth meeting in all competitions between the two sides this season – the third time they’ve met five times in a single campaign and first since 2003-04 (also 1946-47).
- Chelsea have lost just once in their last eight away games versus Arsenal in all competitions (W3 D4 L1).
- Arsenal’s 4-1 win at home to Crystal Palace last week ended Arsene Wenger’s five-match winless run in all competitions.
- However, the Gunners have not kept a Premier League clean sheet in their last six matchups.
- Chelsea, meanwhile, have seen 69% of their trips away have at least three goals.
Although Arsenal’s new signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan will have to watch his new teammates from the stands on Wednesday night, we do expect both sides will have an abundance of chances. After both sides managed to score four last weekend, Chelsea boss Antonio Conte will fancy his chances against an Arsenal defense that have shipped six goals in their last three home matches, Arsene Wenger’s side have also failed to keep a clean sheet in their last six matchups. With both sides showing their fine attacking form last weekend, backing both sides to score at the Emirates on Wednesday night seems like the most logical bet here.
Verdict: Both teams to score
Best Odds: 4/7
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