Arsenal v Chelsea: Assessing each side’s forwards before the match
We’re edging closer to the sixth round of fixtures in the Premier League, and without question the biggest game of the weekend features Arsenal and Chelsea. All week we’ve been assessing how each side looks in different areas of the pitch, and today it’s the turn of the forwards.
So who has the best options to choose from? We begin with Chelsea…
Antonio Conte’s men have scored 10 goals so far in the league, and while half of those have come from star striker Diego Costa (who’s a tempting 5/1 to finish top scorer in the league), the other five have all been by attacking players.
But despite a solid start which saw Chelsea pick up nine points from their opening three games, they’ve since struggled to maintain that form, dropping five points in their last two as a result.
Fans have been less than impressed with recent performances from Oscar, whose presence in the centre of the pitch has forced both Eden Hazard and Willian into wider positions. Being substituted in four of Chelsea’s five league games to date would suggest the Little Diamond’s first-team spot may not be as secure as it has been for the last few years.
However, in such a trio, Conte has the option to shake things up throughout the game, with each player possessing the quality to dominate proceedings through the middle when on form.
Both Pedro and Victor Moses from the bench offer the Blues width and pace in the latter stages of the game, while Michy Batshuayi has already shown several flashes of brilliance so far this season, most notably netting a brace against Bristol Rovers and scoring a true poacher’s goal away at Watford.
But the main man for Chelsea in this match has to be Costa.
While his side have struggled over the last two games, Costa has added another three goals to his tally for the season, making him top-goalscorer in the league.
And he just loves playing against the Gunners, having scored two goals in three games against them in the top-flight, while also playing a role in both red card incidents involving Arsenal defenders against Chelsea last term.
Don’t be surprised if the Spaniard plays a key role in Saturday’s game at the Emirates.
Arsene Wenger (as usual) is blessed with a seemingly endless list of attacking options to choose from, and while he hasn’t beaten Chelsea in the league for five years (his teams scoring a meagre two goals in the process), he must be confident that his current crop of players can put an end to that dismal run.
Last season’s regular starter Olivier Giroud has failed to make an impact so far this season, and it’s unlikely he’ll start against Conte’s side on Saturday evening.
That leaves Wenger with a tough decision to make. While Alexis Sanchez has started all but one of Arsenal’s league games up-front this season, new signing Lucas Perez is now knocking on the door for a regular starting place after scoring a brace in the week against Nottingham Forest.
And that door might just be opened this weekend, as Sanchez’s better performances so far this have come from out wide, meaning Wenger could move Sanchez over to the left to make room for Perez up top.
Though he’s yet to get going this campaign following a blistering 12 months, Mesut Ozil is simply too big a player to leave out for this one.
However, such is the strength in depth of forward talents at the French boss’ disposal, you could make arguments for Alex Iwobi, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all starting alongside Sanchez and Ozil in the middle.
That’s a selection dilemma which won’t concern Gooners though, given that all three have impressed in patches so far this year.
So which forward will have the final say come Saturday night? And which manager will be going into the game with the upper hand?
Have your say in the comments section below!
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing