These are not good times at the Bridge and Arsenal could well hold Chelsea to their second draw of the week, says Lee Dixon...
Arsenal are hardly flying at the moment but there can rarely have been a better time to play Chelsea than now.
The Blues have given us some eye-catching results lately - just not always for the right reasons. For every 4-0 at Stoke, 5-1 at Southampton and 8-0 at home to Villa, there is an inexplicable defeat or setback; Wednesday night's 2-2 draw with the Saints being the latest example.
Rafa Benitez is the reason for that, with fans steadfastly against the former Liverpool manager. Pep Guardiola's apparent snub of Roman Abramovich, when agreeing to manage Bayern Munich next year, increases the chances of Benitez staying on at Stamford Bridge but the fans just seem to become ever more entrenched in their opposition to Rafa.
Criticism rains down from the stands but it's like water off a duck's back for the Spaniard. The players don't seem to revel in the atmosphere at Stamford Bridge however, and that could well transmit to the players and it wouldn't surprise me if this London derby was heavy on the bookings.
Arsenal's situation pales in comparison to Chelsea's. The Emirates was not a fun place to be for the home faithful on Sunday afternoon, but they enjoyed Jack Wilshere's 86th minute winner against Swansea in Wednesday night's cup replay. The 21-year-old was in fine form against the Welsh outfit, playing further forward in Mikel Arteta's absence and he looked effective alongside Santi Carzola and Theo Walcott, with Oliver Giroud leading the line.
It still took the Gunners 86 minutes to break the Swansea defence and despite boasting all that attacking talent, my old club have struggled to score - especially away from home - and I don't think that will change on Sunday. For me all the ingredients add up to a tight, scrappy affair, probably ending in a point apiece.
That won't suit either club but I think we know which manager will be the happier when it's all over.
The Betfair's Trader's View: Alan Thompson
I agree with Lee, now is a good time to be playing Chelsea especially at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have only recorded one victory in their last seven at home and that was the 8-0 demolition of Aston Villa. Arsenal have conceded only nine goals on their travels this season and I can see this being a low scoring battle. The simple way to play this game is to lay Chelsea at 2.0 and back Under 2.5 goals at 2.32.
However, to trade the game, I will eliminate the 1-0, 2-0 Chelsea score lines and back Arsenal to win 1-0, 2-0 as well as the 1-1 draw. Depending on your attitude to risk, you can also 'scalp' the 0-0 Correct Score from kick-off (back and lay repeatedly) to “scratch” and should the game remain 0-0 for a while you can always take cheap insurance by backing Over 2.5 Goals when the price drifts out, to cover your correct score stakes. If you can get all this matched a single Arsenal goal should produce a profit.
The Tactical View: Michael Cox
This is a game for Jack Wilshere. He was excellent against Swansea in midweek, playing higher up the pitch in a 'number 10' role and continually leading Arsenal's chance, creating chances and scoring the game's only goal. I'd like to see Arsene Wenger use him there again, with Santi Cazorla drifting in from a wide position.
If that happens, Chelsea might struggle to cope. Rafael Benitez will probably use Ramires on the right to stop Kieran Gibbs, and with Jon Obi Mikel at the Africa Cup of Nations, a central midfield duo of Frank Lampard and David Luiz isn't particularly convincing. Also, with Mikel Arteta out and Olivier Giroud uncertain to start, might Wilshere be on penalties? I'll back him to score at around 8.0.
18 January 2013