We return to Premier League action with a trip to Stamford Bridge on Saturday, looking to win four consecutive league games against Chelsea for the first time in our history.
Incredibly the Blues have had a different manager in each of those encounters, and Mauricio Pocchetino will be hoping that he is the man to turn the club’s fortunes around, who have found playing in front of their own supporters to be a real problem having won just one of their last 11 home league fixtures.
Stamford Bridge has been a happy hunting ground for us in recent years, and should we maintain our impressive away form that has seen us yet to concede on our league travels this term, we could become the first team to win four-straight matches away to the Blues since 1986.
Poch’s work in progress
Another unprecedented transfer expenditure of over £400 million this summer has yet to really reap rewards for new boss Pochettino, with the Blues in the bottom half of the table after their first eight matches.
Just five points were yielded from their opening five fixtures, with a defeat at West Ham United followed by further losses at home to Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa. They now sit on the brink of losing three home league games on the bounce for the first time since November 1993.
However their last three encounters have offered shoots of hope. Brighton were beaten in the League Cup before quickfire goals from Mykhailo Mudryk and Armando Broja won the derby against Fulham. The Blues then recovered from a goal down to thump Burnley 4-1 last time out, as they look to string three Premier League wins together for the first time in over a year.
What the managers say
Arteta: "It’s a big game and we know that there is a big history between the two clubs and the type of games we have played against them. It’s a very different one I think.
"This season, I’ve been really impressed by Chelsea, they deserve much more than what they’ve got on the table. I think what Mauricio has done in such a short time is phenomenal and we’re going to have to be at our best." - read everything from Mikel's pre-match press conference
Pochettino: "I prefer the tough fixtures. I think we need to win tomorrow. We respect Arsenal, they're a great team and you know very well that Mikel is part of my family.
"From day one when he arrived at Paris, we arrived together, we spent time together, with our families also – first of all in the hotel for the first few months and then we lived very close. It was an amazing history and for me, it hasn't surprised me what he is doing because he was a coach already when he was 17, he really was.
"He was a coach and trust me, he was really, really good with his judgement, how he saw football. It has not surprised me, he's still really young and improving day by day. He can become one of the greatest managers in the world."
Adrian Clarke: Having started with 3-4-2-1 and 4-2-3-1 formations, Mauricio Pochettino has landed upon a standard 4-3-3 shape after experimenting with Enzo Fernandez as a No.10. In this set-up he deploys Raheem Sterling and Cole Palmer very wide with a strong central midfield trio of Moises Caicedo, Conor Gallagher and Fernandez inside them.
Chelsea want to hog the ball. Showing patience, the west Londoners are making 60 extra passes per match compared to last term, meaning they are second only to Manchester City for their highest average share of possession (63.5 per cent).
Fernandez is their chief playmaker. The World Cup winner and record signing has made 318 successful passes inside the opposition half, and the highest number of successful long passes in the division so far.
He regularly picks out Sterling with raking passes, who is a man in form. He was involved in all four goals against Burnley, and no-one else in the Premier League has enjoyed more touches inside the opposition box – a sign of the penetration he is providing. Emboldened by his manager’s trust, Sterling has attempted more than twice as many dribbles as any of his teammates.
The team is well organised but until they find a consistent tactical groove under Pochettino, Chelsea will continue to be reliant on talented individuals like Sterling and Fernandez to make the difference.
It remains to be seen if Bukayo Saka, Leandro Trossard (both hamstrings) and William Saliba (toe) will be fit in time for Saturday’s game after they all withdrew from international selection to focus on their various issues. Long-term injury victim Jurrien Timber is our only other concern.
As for the Blues, Reece James is expected to be fit after overcoming a hamstring injury suffered earlier in the campaign, while Benoit Badiashile is back in training after recovering from the same ailment. Malu Gusto is also available for selection again after completing his three-match ban.
However the international break was not kind to Pochettino. Axel Disasi withdrew from France’s squad with a torn quadricep, and Broja’s international bow for Albania never materialised after he returned home prematurely with a knee problem that definitely rules him out.
They are added to an already overflowing treatment room, with Nicolas Jackson missing Senegal duty to undergo surgery on a broken wrist. He may be fit in time, unlike Romeo Lavia and Christopher Nkunku who are yet to debut after picking up ankle and knee injuries respectively, as well as Ben Chilwell, Trevor Chalobah (both hamstring), Wesley Fofana and Carney Chukwuemeka (both knee).
Facts and stats
Since the start of last season, we have won more points (48) and games (15) away from home than any other side in the Premier League. We’ve also kept more clean sheets on the road (13) and conceded fewer away goals (18) than any other ever-present side during this period.
Chelsea have lost five of their last six Premier League games against us, as many defeats as they'd suffered in their previous 25.
We are unbeaten in our last 15 league London derbies (W11 D4), the third-longest such run in Premier League history after Chelsea (20 between 2004 and 2006) and ourselves (35 between 2001 and 2005).
We have won our three Premier League away games this season by an aggregate score of 6-0 – only twice have we won our first four on the road in a league season (1903/04 and 2004/05). We could become the first side in top-flight history to win each of their first four away games in a season without conceding.
As well as being one of two teams still unbeaten in the Premier League this season, no side has kept more clean sheets (4) or conceded fewer goals (6) than us this term.
Mauricio Pochettino has never lost a Premier League home game against us, winning three and drawing three of his six such meetings.
Mikel Arteta has won five of his eight Premier League games against Chelsea (62.5 per cent). Of all managers to take charge of more than five against them, only Kenny Dalglish (76.9) and Pep Guardiola (64.3) have a higher win percentage against the Blues.
Kai Havertz – who assisted our winner against Man City last time out – could make his 100th Premier League appearance in this match. 27 different players to have previously played for Chelsea in the Premier League have scored against them in the competition, the most against any side in the competition’s history.
Martin Odegaard has applied more pressures than any other player in the Premier League this season (253), while he’s also the only player to have made 100+ in both the middle third (111) and attacking third (112).
Chris Kavanagh will be the man in the middle at Stamford Bridge, the 18th time he has overseen one of our matches. We have won 10 of those, including all three he was handed last season - the 1-0 success at Leeds United, our epic 3-2 success against Bournemouth and the 2-0 triumph at Newcastle United.
Chelsea meanwhile have won 11 of the 12 fixtures of theirs he has been appointed to, although only two of those have come in the past three seasons. This will be his third Premier League game of the season, and he has awarded seven yellow cards and one penalty in the previous two.
- Referee: Chris Kavanagh
- Assistants: Richard West and Matthew Wilkes
- Fourth Official: James Linington
- VAR: Jarred Gillett
- Assistant VAR: Darren Cann
Recent trips to the Bridge
We could become the first side to win four in a row against the Blues at the Bridge since Watford achieved the feat between 1981 and 1986, thanks to some memorable displays in west London in recent years.
Last season saw Gabriel pop up with the winner when he headed in a Saka corner to clinch the three points in November, while five months earlier we ran out 4-2 victors. Eddie Nketiah opened the scoring before Timo Werner equalised, and further goals from Emile Smith Rowe and Cesar Azpilicueta made it 2-2 at the break. However, Nketiah and a late Saka penalty secured victory.
In May 2021, Smith Rowe netted the only goal of the game to claim victory, although we benefitted from a VAR call that ruled out a Christian Pulisic strike, while some late heroics by Bernd Leno saw Kurt Zouma and Olivier Giroud's hit the woodwork to ensure we left with the points.
Relive five of our best wins at the Bridge, including a famous Kanu hat-trick and a screamer from Nigel Winterburn.
How to watch
Tune into Breakdown Live from an hour before kick-off where Nicole Holliday and Adrian Clarke will be bringing you the best pre-match build-up to the game.
They'll be dissecting the game against the Blues to see what factors may lead us to keep our unbeaten run intact, and also be looking at our women's and academy sides' start to the season.
Then from kick-off, live commentary comes from Dan Roebuck and Jonathon Rogers who will be at Stamford Bridge to keep you up to date with every kick.
If you want to watch the action, find out which broadcaster is showing the game in your country.
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