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Duel of Fates: Arsenal vs. Chelsea

Friday 23rd September 2016
One of the capital's biggest games of the season renews its blood and fire rivalry for another campaign. So early in the season, with both teams on equal points, this could set the tone for both club's respective seasons.

It's a game that livens up the whole football world, especially the suburbs of North and South-West London as two of the world's most supported clubs go head to head, in arguably the biggest London derby.  Both teams are equal on points, ten from their first five games. The teams are sitting on the classier side of the table in fourth and fifth. A win for either side will push them further into title contention, albeit very early to predict such things. Due to the timing of this game, it might not alter either team's overall destiny that much but will certainly provide a lot of bragging rights for the winning side. After all, this is a very fiery game. The last two meetings have provided eleven yellow cards and a further two red cards. Not for the faint hearted.

Arsenal despite entering the game with a lot more league form than their opponents still have a certain apprehension about playing Chelsea. After all, Wenger last defeated the Blues in the Premier League since 2011; where he masterminded an empathic 5-3 win at Stamford Bridge. Although things have been bleak ever since, barring the 1-0 Community Shield, Chelsea has always had Arsenal's number in the league since. Arsene is still with the club and for all his haters, has performed well. The squad has matured and not as nervy, could this be the masterplan the Frenchman was plotting all along? Three points against Chelsea would be a welcome step at the very least.
Highlights from the aforementioned eight-goal thriller.

Chelsea has enjoyed a wealth of success against Arsenal, under numerous different managers, most remarkably the 6-0 win back in the 13/14 season. Other than last season, where Chelsea capitulated and Arsenal finished second, the Blues classically finish above Arsenal. Didier Drogba during his two tenures with the club would always score against the Gunners, furthering his cult status with the club. Antonio Conte faces Arsenal for the first time, with that comes no fear then again – no understanding of what the Emirates holds. It can be an eerie place. So many fans, yet not the loudest venue by any means. His personnel have a fair few experiences of the stadium so might be able to fill him in on how to attack their London foes.

Petr Čech, for so many years, lined up against Arsenal in this fixture but famously, switched the Reds last season. Whilst the Chelsea fans hold little contempt for their former keeper, his traitor did not go unpunished in his first season away from the Bridge. He conceded three goals to his previous employers as Chelsea did the double against Arsenal last campaign. Čech is one of the few players that has played for both clubs in the contemporary era. The other notable examples are Ashley Cole and William Gallas, the latter even playing for Spurs as well! Israeli international Yossi Benayoun also featured for both clubs as he went on loan to Arsenal from Chelsea in the 11/12 season.
This season the teams have found themselves win three wins, one draw and one loss on the board. Arsenal comes into this London derby in the better form having won the last three, whilst Chelsea's last two games have seemed them fail to register a win as they lost to Liverpool and drew with Swansea City. Diego Costa has been in great form so far, having scored five goals in five games and often finds the back of the net against Arsenal. Alexis Sánchez along with Santi Cazorla have provided the same amount of goals, but for the Gunners. Given these players and the other star quality in this game, it'll be the match of the weekend, no doubt.
Warren Smith

Yokohama F•Marinos supporter. Seen it all in the J.League, relegation fights and being crowned champions. Play five-a-side, pretty good too. Once scored an overhead kick.

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