Pre-Season Premier League

International Champions Cup: Arsenal vs Chelsea – Preview (Corner Flag Talk + The Football 4tress)

While they never considered each other primary rivals, as two of the biggest and most successful clubs in London, there has always been strong needle between Arsenal and Chelsea fans dating back to the 1930s. The Arsenal and Chelsea rivalry has been more recently considered an important derby, after Chelsea’s rise to the top class of the Premier League in the 2000s, when the two started to compete constantly for the Premier League title.

Today, the modern London derby between the two clubs has been closer knit in comparison to what it has been in previous years. For around 8 years, Arsenal always struggled against The Blues, especially when a certain Didier Drogba was on the pitch. But since Drogba’s (second) Chelsea departure in 2015, Arsenal have closed the gap on their London compatriots; with their most recent success being in the EFL Cup semifinals. In the last 8 encounters, Arsenal have won 4, drawn 3 and lost 1.

The next meeting between these two sides will be tomorrow in the International Champions Cup. The teams also met in last year’s edition of the tournament with Chelsea finishing the game as 3-0 winners.

Today, I’ll be doing a preview of the game with John Mungal (Owner of Corner Flag Talk). As a Chelsea fan, I’ll be discussing Chelsea and John will cover Arsenal. Our Chelsea-Arsenal rivalry isn’t the furthest our opposition goes. We attended rival secondary schools (Naparima College and Presentation College) and played against each other in the Cross Sports Church League, so we have been a competitive duo for some time.


We’ll be discussing:
  1. Thoughts on the respective new managers
  2. Key players
  3. Predicted lineups
  4. Expected signings/departures
  5. Predicted score

Discussion:

1. Thoughts On The Respective New Managers

DAVID:
From what I’ve seen so far, he’s brought new life to Chelsea. Chelsea seem like a new team. To be honest, I didn’t follow him and his style when he was at Napoli so his system is new to me. But I’m loving what I’m seeing so far. I believe that, when all our senior players return, Sarri will mesh Chelsea into a genuine title contender again.

JOHN:
I believe a lot of what the club’s promoting to be overly emphasized with respect to training and tactics and whatnot, but there is no disagreeing that there has been change. Admittedly, Unai Emery was not any fan’s first choice, or probably any of their choices, by a mile. However, we’ve asked for change and gotten it and the response both in training and even in the not-very competitive preseason games has been fantastic. The players have seem to taken to his tactics very well, and personally, I love how willing he is to switch formations to suit which is something I have not seen often enough under Arsène. Under Emery there is genuine hope that we can compete for top honors again.


2. Key Players

DAVID:
He’s the new boy in the squad, but I think Jorginho will be extremely important — both for tomorrow and the entire season. He has been forming a beautiful partnership with Cesc Fabregas so far, a bit similar to the Matic-Fabregas partnership in 2014/2015. On his Chelsea debut, he made 98 successful passes from 101 touches of the ball. It will be interesting what he pulls out of the hat tomorrow.

I also think that David Luiz will be key in tomorrow’s fixture. The Brazilian looks reborn under Sarri thus far. His center-back partnership with Ethan Ampadu has worked well for the past two games. I’m adamant that he’ll be vital in stifling Aubameyang and Lacazette, and he may provide something going forward as well.

Finally, I strongly believe that Calum Hudson-Odoi will be a valuable asset. His youthful vibrancy and pace on the flanks will provide real tests to Hector Bellerin or whoever Emery decides to play at right-back. He’s put in two solid performances against Perth Glory and Inter Milan, and I’m sure he’ll continue his fine form against the Gunners. This pre-season campaign might just be enough to get him into the first team when the season begins.

JOHN:
So far, we haven’t seen Torreira as yet, as he only returned to training on Monday, as did the Swiss guys so I’m not sure how they’ll be utilized as yet. But from the players used, the AubameyangLacazette pairing has to be noted. Whether it has been the 2 on top or Aubameyang out wide they have played a lot together and, even last season, to tremendous levels. Mustafi actually has been in pretty good form despite fans, including myself, wanting him sold.

Chambers as well seems to have gotten a lot of game time so maybe that’s a hint. In the midfield, Guendouzi has been really well in the deep playmaker role and would actually be interesting who gets to play that role more between him and Xhaka. It is really exciting to see how Unai will mesh Torreira into this team, who would have definitely been promised regular first team football.

Ramsey has also played a great part, which could be down to his availability, as he had no World Cup, but given his contractual situation, it would be interesting as to how Emery will use him. Despite all that, the pressing that has been a pattern to Arsenal’s play recently would be key against the possession-based football of any Sarri team. Hence, whoever is put unto the pitch would definitely be charged with instructions to close down the opposition quickly, especially the human-metronome Jorginho.


3. Predicted Lineup

DAVID:
I expect Chelsea to field a strong team, at least in the first half. With the return of Cesar Azpilicueta, I think he’ll start and wear the armband. Caballero will replace Bulka in goal and I’m opting for the midfield trio that started against Perth Glory to keep their places.

Chelsea (4-3-3):
GK: Willy Cabellero
RB: Cesar Azpilicueta (C)
RCB: David Luiz
LCB: Ethan Ampadu
LB: Marcos Alonso
RAM: Cesc Fabregas
CDM: Jorginho
LAM: Ross Barkley
RWF: Pedro
LWF: Calum Hudson-Odoi
CF: Alvaro Morata

JOHN:
Given how late Lichtsteiner, Xhaka, Monreal and Torreira have returned, I don’t have high expectations to see them, maybe 1 or 2 off the bench. I’d love to see Guendouzi have a go against a side like Chelsea who also have a big part of their first team already back. Nelson might get another runout and I’d also like to see Emery use Iwobi in a deeper role, off the bench perhaps, where we can really utilize his buildup play and dribbling abilities. Lastly, given how well both Mustafi and Chambers are playing, I’d like to see more of that. So I’m going for…

Arsenal (4-2-3-1):
GK: Petr Čech (C)
RB: Hector Bellerin
RCB: Shkodran Mustafi
LCB: Calum Chambers
LB: Sead Kolasinac
RDM: Ainsley Maitland-Niles
LDM: Mattéo Guendouzi
RM: Reiss Nelson
CAM: Mesut Özil
LM: Henrik Mkhitaryan
ST: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang


4. Expected Signings/Departures

DAVID:
In terms of signings, I think that Chelsea’s business is almost done. I’m hopeful that we’ll get Rugani from Juventus. Besides that, I don’t see us bringing in anyone new, even though many media sites are reporting that we’ll be getting Higuain. I don’t see anyone (permanently) leaving the club either. I’m confident that Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois, Willian and Ngolo Kante will all stay, despite the many transfer rumours circulating the football world. Ethan Ampadu may go out on loan if we do manage to sign Rugani.

JOHN:
Mostly outgoings; no high expectations on any ins. It is a personal opinion that I think we will try to sell Ramsey at some point. Obviously foreign clubs have a longer window so  the timeline on that isn’t as short as if we are to bring in a replacement. To be fair to Emery, our midfield seems well stocked with about 6-7 first team players competing for 2-3 positions so I’m not too worried there. I would like a winger but there aren’t many options on the market and most clubs with top class wingers don’t seem keen on selling. On departures, I could see some others including Ospina, Welbeck, Willock maybe even Akpom, Jenkinson and Zelalem. Never know, we could pull a transfer deadline-day madness!


5. Predicted Score

DAVID:
Arsenal have looked menacing so far under Unai Emery, but Chelsea have looked solid. I predict that the game will finish 2-2 after regular time and Chelsea will win 5-3 on penalties.

JOHN:
Well, based on preseason form, I’d have to go for Arsenal. But this game is set up perfectly for Possession-based football vs Counter-Attacking football. Midfield battle would definitely be key especially given Sarri’s style of play. I’m going for a 3-2 to the Arsenal.


That marks the end of our preview for tomorrow’s game; what are your thoughts? Comment below.

The Football 4tress is grateful to John and Corner Flag Talk for making this collaboration possible. It was a pleasure to be co-authors with him. We may do more collabs in the future, never know.

Arsenal vs Chelsea will kickoff at 3:00PM AST tomorrow and can be viewed on ESPN2.


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