Chelsea v Arsenal – Sun 11:00pm AEST
at Wembley Stadium
|Best: Over 2.5 goals ($1.66)
Value: Arsenal WIN ($3.40)
The reigning EPL champions take on the current FA Cup holders in the traditional curtain raiser for the English football season. The pair have seen more than enough of one another in recent times and never disappoint. Both sides have made key signings in the summer and have done so in the same part of the field – up front.
Arsene Wenger has finally pulled out the cheque book and added Lacazette to help solve their recent woes up front. More importantly it seems as though Alexis Sanchez will remain for at least one more year. The decision not to sell him is likely to cost millions as the Chilean is in the final year of his contract and will be leaving on a free at seasons end. Injuries did play their part last year, as they always do with the Gunners, and getting the likes of Carzola and Ramsey back will feel like new players have been added to the squad.
Conte has been slightly more active than Wenger but not as much as one would expect for a side that will be playing a lot more football than they did a season ago. The signing of Neymar is also about to shake things up. Hazard has reportedly offered himself to Barca as a result and then there is the Diego Costa saga… It has now turned into a legal battle with Costa’s lawyer announcing that they will explore all legal avenues to secure his exit from Stamford Bridge. Meanwhile Matic has made his way to Old Trafford while Ake and Cuadrado have been sold to the clubs that they were loaned out to. The club has added one key figure in each area of the field with Rudiger to join the defensive line, Bakayoko to fill the hole in midfield and Morata to be the prime target up front.
These two are no strangers to one another and have been involved in some pivotal battles of late. In their first EPL meeting last season Arsenal thrashed the Blues 3-0 in what was the game that changed Chelsea’s season. Down 3-0 at half time Conte changed to a 3-4-3 in the second half and his side never looked back winning 13 straight league games to take a stranglehold of the league. Chelsea then got their revenge in the return fixture winning 3-1 in a dominant display. It wouldn’t end there with the Gunners scoring an upset win in the FA Cup final but in their preseason ICC encounter it was Chelsea that looked the goods in a comfortable 3-0 win.
Both sides have lost multiple matches in the preseason and against sides they were expected to beat. Chelsea have not won the Shield since 2009 while Arsenal have won 2 of the last 3. Arsenal have won 14 of 21 while Chelsea have a poor 4-7 record in their 11 Shield appearances. It makes the price on offer for Arsenal very attractive, especially with a wide open encounter predicted. There have been 3 or more goals in 6 of the last 8 with both teams scoring in 10 of the last 14. We could see a handful of goals!