CHRIS Graham (@chrisgraham79) takes a look at the big Saturday lunchtime clash between Chelsea and Arsenal.
Chelsea v Arsenal | Saturday 12:30 | Sky Sports 1
It’s all a bit of a shame isn’t it? For the first time in my life, this season’s English Premier League looked to have six strong candidates for the crown.
Five of those sides read that memo, but one broke away from the pack and have gone many lengths in front as we move into the final third of the race.
While just five points separate second place Tottenham with sixth place Manchester United, Chelsea find themselves nine clear of Mauricio Pochettino’s men and in an incredibly strong position.
It’s all a far cry from when Chelsea and Arsenal last met in September. Arsenal cruised past the Blues 3-0 to make a bad September for the West London club a truly awful one.
Rumours of manager Antonio Conte’s demise hit the press after that defeat but it’s to his enormous credit that his side stunned us all by winning their next 13 league matches to hit the top.
January began with a defeat to Spurs for Chelsea but they’ve since taken seven points from nine in their next three fixtures including a 1-1 draw with Liverpool on Tuesday night. It’s hard to fathom how their title assault will falter.
Better judges than me fancy them to win on Saturday and with 10 straight wins at Stamford Bridge and four in a row against Arsenal in West London how can you oppose them at Evens?
Despite all this I’ve just got a feeling Arsenal might get something from this game. They must be bitterly disappointed by their awful defeat against Watford on Tuesday night and another year without English football’s ultimate prize looks a cert.
Usually after really poor results Arsenal tend to show some character and produce some spirit in their following performances and that may be the case here.
Their recent seasons have been characterised by a rousing dash to the finish line after the leader can’t be caught. But by then the damage has already been done.
The damage already feels like it’s been done this season but a bad defeat here after the Watford shambles would put the club in a very dark light with a Champions League match against Bayern Munich on the horizon.
I’m prepared to believe Arsenal will raise their game here and fight hard in what is surely last chance saloon. A win is required, but it’s surely beyond them.
With a nine point lead at the top of the table I doubt Chelsea will be devastated if they drop a couple of points here and that’s what I think will happen. A 1-1 scoreline looks worth courting along with the draw.
Chelsea v Arsenal – Draw (131/50 Marathon Bet)
Chelsea v Arsenal – 1-1 Draw (13/2 BetVictor)