Three straight wins has put Arsenal firmly back on track after a shaky start to the 2016/2017 campaign, with the 4-1 victory at newly-promoted Hull setting the team up for what promises to be a fierce clash at the Emirates against London rivals Chelsea. Alexis Sanchez, who was once again preferred through the middle ahead of Olivier Giroud and Lucas Perez, scored a brace as the Chilean star began to show signs of returning to his best, although he missed the opportunity for a hat-trick after his first-half penalty was saved. It was a thoroughly professional performance from front to back, and although Hull certainly made the Gunners work hard for the three points, our superior quality ultimately shone through. This was no more epitomised by Granit Xhaka’s superb 30-yard strike to score his first goal in Arsenal colours, raising questions of why Arsene Wenger left a player who cost an estimated £30 million on the bench. Some would argue that there is still room for improvement, and although Arsenal are slight favourites to win the derby with Betway, beating a potential title rival could go a long way towards bridging the gap to early pacesetters Manchester City.
History would suggest that Arsenal will have to be at their very best to pick up all three points against Antonio Conte’s side, with the Gunners winning just one of the last seven encounters between the two teams at the Emirates. Alex Song, Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott were on the scoresheet as Arsenal ran out 3-1 winners back in December 2010, with subsequent fixtures producing three defeats and three draws as Chelsea have enjoyed their travels to the red half of North London. The Blues also completed the double over Arsenal last season, with Diego Costa scoring the only goal of the game as the Gunners never recovered from Per Mertesacker’s early red card and lost further ground in the title ground on home soil.
Gaining revenge should not cloud Arsenal’s focus on the task ahead, but with Chelsea drawing 2-2 at Swansea and losing 2-1 at home to Liverpool in their last two matches, the Gunners will fancy their chances of winning the derby. Fans who feel confident enough to back Arsenal can check out these odds on Betway, with Wenger’s team rated as 7/5 favourites to prevail against their fierce rivals. It will take a strong performance at both ends of the pitch if Arsenal are to come out on top, but there is growing confidence that Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Alex Iwobi can exploit a Chelsea defence that are yet to click into gear under Conte; Italian managers are renown for building their team to be rigid and difficult to break down at the back, but the manner in which Liverpool players were queuing up at the far post for their first goal at Stamford Bridge should provide Arsenal with great encouragement.
Sanchez certainly appears to have hit form at just the right time, with the Chilean scoring three in his last three Premier League appearances. He is likely to lead the line again as Giroud is rated as doubtful with a toe injury and Perez is still adapting to life in English football. Wenger may, however, receive a timely boost through the return of Aaron Ramsey who may feature after a hamstring injury, although Carl Jenkinson, Mertesacker and Danny Welbeck remaining long-term casualties. Chelsea, on the other hand, could receive a boost of their own if John Terry is able to prove his fitness following an ankle injury, and with their defence looking far from secure in the 2-1 defeat to Liverpool, his return could prove pivotal. Marco Van Ginkel and Kurt Zouma remain on the sidelines as Conte has a relatively strong squad to choose from, but if Arsenal take confidence from their strong run of form into the clash at the Emirates, then the Gunners could make it four wins on the bounce.