Premier League match preview: Arsenal v Chelsea
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Romelu Lukaku could make his grand return for Chelsea away against rivals Arsenal today (4.30pm kick-off) as the Gunners look to lay an early marker in the Premier League title race. Thomas Tuchel could make several tweaks to his Blues side as they seek a big three points across the capital. Express Sport looks at how the European champions could line up at the Emirates.
No surprises in goal with Mendy, only just denied the Golden Glove by Manchester City’s Ederson last season, in between the sticks.
The Senegalese is looking to join Liverpool’s Alisson and Brentford’s David Raya as the third keeper to keep two shut-outs from two games.
Mendy conceded three goals in his only previous appearance for Chelsea against Arsenal, also at the Emirates, and will be eager to rectify that with a stronger showing here.
Defence: Chalobah, Christensen, Rudiger
Tuchel will stick to his trusted back three formation with Andreas Christensen likely to line up in the middle and Antonio Rudiger to his right, leaving Thiago Silva on the bench.
Trevoh Chalobah should start Chelsea’s third consecutive competitive match of the campaign on the right-hand side of the backline having impressed in recent showings.
The 22-year-old scored in the victory over Crystal Palace last time out and will be tasked with keeping the likes of Bukayo Saka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang quiet this time around.
Tuchel said of Chalobah this week: “He’s a very good player and even more importantly a top character. It’s a good moment for him to stay with us and to be part of the group and take further steps to fulfil his dream.
“That is to be part of a strong Chelsea squad, which he is at the moment. We trust him and he deserves this, it is not a gift.”
Midfield: James, Jorginho, Kante, Alonso
The first of the changes for Chelsea could come on the right-hand side, where Tuchel might opt for the physicality and balance of Reece James over Cesar Azpilicueta.
While it would be a harsh call to drop the Spaniard, keeping Kieran Tierney quiet will be one of Chelsea’s greatest tasks at the Emirates and James may offer greater legs against the attack-minded Scot and can both keep Tierney quiet while getting forward himself.
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On the left-hand side, Marcos Alonso should be picked over Ben Chilwell once more having scored against Palace with a brilliant free-kick.
The second change will come in the midfield two where N’Golo Kante, back from an ankle injury, should displace Mateo Kovacic.
He will be joined by fellow UEFA Player of the Year nominee Jorginho as Chelsea look to overcome the Arsenal midfield that is expected to be Granit Xhaka and Albert Sambi Lokonga.
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Attack: Werner, Mount, Lukaku
The third and final change should see new boy Romelu Lukaku come in to lead the line with the Belgian having declared himself fit to feature.
The Belgian will hope to make his second debut against an Arsenal defence that struggled with the physicality of Ivan Toney against Brentford last week.
Hakim Ziyech is likely only to make the bench after returning from a shoulder problem, where he could be joined by Kai Havertz, with Mason Mount starting on the right of Lukaku.
With Christian Pulisic absent due to Covid, Timo Werner could be asked to line up down the left, after starting as a striker in the last match, in order to stretch the Arsenal defence and keep Calum Chambers busy.
Tuchel said of Werner pre-match: “Having the attention of Romelu, who likes to be in the centre of the pitch and to fight physically with defenders, can create space for Timo. He can now play a bit wider than he used to last season.
“And, then, to play around Romelu, who is like the reference as a No 9 and in the attack. This, hopefully, gives Timo the space to do this, to feel more freedom and that it’s easier to find more dangerous space and to start scoring again.”
Chelsea predicted XI vs Arsenal: Mendy; Chalobah, Christensen, Rudiger; James, Jorginho, Kante, Alonso; Werner, Mount, Lukaku
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