The Breakdown

The Breakdown: Chelsea v Arsenal preview

We return to Premier League action on Sunday when we travel to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea.

Ahead of the game, tactical expert Michael Cox and former Gunner Adrian Clarke analyse our opponents’ strengths, dangermen and areas we can target.

THE MANAGER

MC: Antonio Conte’s impact since his appointment last summer has been extraordinary - he took Chelsea to the title in his debut campaign, winning the second-most points in Premier League history, and came close to the double, before being foiled by Arsenal at Wembley in May. After three straight league titles and a fine showing with Italy at Euro 2016, he must be considered one of the best managers around.

AC: Not so long ago, Chelsea were having a bad start to their season and losing at Burnley. People were asking if Conte had lost it and whether he would lose his job but, since then, he’s done what he does best and that’s coaching. He’s produced tactical gameplans and Chelsea have been superb in the last couple of weeks.

FORMATION

MC: It was midway through a 3-0 defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates last season that Conte decided to switch from a 4-1-4-1 system to a 3-4-3, the formation that propelled the Blues to the league title. Other sides struggled to cope with Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses, their overlapping wing-backs, and many found the best way to play against the 3-4-3 was to copy it. Several sides, including Arsenal, moved to that shape in the second half of 2017/18.

STRENGTHS

MC: Chelsea’s three-man defence has been so effective, in part, because they’re so rarely exposed. That’s because Conte favours a solid, cautious midfield duo in big games. N’Golo Kante is a surefire starter, and Conte might favour his old Leicester partner Danny Drinkwater alongside him this weekend - Cesc Fabregas is often regarded as a luxury in big games.


DANGERMAN

MC: Eden Hazard remains Chelsea’s key attacker, but Arsenal must be wary of the aerial threat of Alvaro Morata, who has scored three league goals and assisted two more this season - all with his head.

AC: Morata came here as an underrated player because he’s been a sub at Real Madrid and sometimes for Juventus, but he’s a class player. He’s got great movement, is nimble, offers Chelsea something very different, especially down the sides. If you get the ball into the box for Alvaro Morata, he can score a variety of goals. He can score with his head, he can score with both feet. He’s a guy who we really need to be aware of on the weekend.

AREAS TO TARGET

MC: Opponents started to cause Chelsea problems in the second half of last season by exploiting the lack of height on the right of their defence, where Cesar Azpilicueta plays in the back three and Moses tucks inside from wing-back. However, the signing of Davide Zappacosta, a more defensive-minded wing-back, gives Conte more options on that flank.