The 2021/22 football season has started as it ended for Arsenal and Chelsea, not only because of results on the pitch but the emotional state of their supporters.
The 204th North West London derby comes up at the Emirates on Sunday with the two teams on different emotional spectrums, though the surprise from last season was that the Gunners did a double over the Blues.
Despite these wins, and Mikel Arteta’s team finishing last season with five consecutive wins, there is an air of despondency for the fans because the Gunners missed out on European football for the first time in 25 years.
Meanwhile, Chelsea changed manager [an Abramovich trick] in January and the new man-Thomas Tuchel led the Blues to a second UEFA Champions League victory.
The new season, which started last week, already shows a stark difference between Arteta’s team and Tuchel’s conquerors.
A dismal 2-0 loss away to newcomers, Brentford meant Arteta is already under immense pressure and the pundits have him as the first manager to be sacked in the new season.
For Chelsea, they have added the UEFA Super Cup and were very comfortable 3-0 winners over Crystal Palace.
N’Golo Kante and record recruit, Romelu Lukaku, were both absent from that victory but they have since returned to training and could make their season bows at the Emirates on Sunday.
Arsenal: L-L-L-D-L; Chelsea: W-W-D-W-W
01/08/21 CLF Arsenal 1 – 2 Chelsea
12/05/21 PRL Chelsea 0 – 1 Arsenal
26/12/20 PRL Arsenal 3 – 1 Chelsea
01/08/20 FAC Arsenal 2 – 1 Chelsea
21/01/20 PRL Chelsea 2 – 2 Arsenal
The head-to-head data between the teams shows that in the last five competitive encounters, Arsenal have won three and drawn won.
Arsenal’s last loss to Chelsea in the EPL was a 2-1 loss at the Emirates Stadium on December 29, 2019.
Chelsea scored two goals in the last seven minutes to overturn a first half goal by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Bernd Leno committed a howler for Jorginho’s equaliser and Tammy Abraham scored the winner from a counter-attack.
Arsenal will be without Alexandre Lacazette, and Willian because of COVID-19, but Thomas Partey, Eddie Nketiah, and Gabriel Magalhaes are out injured while the Gunners did not sign Martin Odegaard on time to play on Sunday.
Chelsea are also COVID-hampered with both Christian Pulisic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek out.
What the managers are saying
“The best way to put things away is to win. Football matches when you win them. It creates a different context and a different environment and energy around the place. Our focus is to get the best possible performance and then the result will be a consequence of that. Our main focus has to be that.” – Mikel Arteta, Arsenal Manager
“The difficulties they [Arsenal] had in the first match, to lose. I think they will try to put themselves in the underdog role and fight from there in this derby, which is fair enough. It’s on us to be absolutely focused and well aware of everything that they will ask us.” – Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea Manager
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