CARDS specialist Chris Goodwin (@CGeorgeGamble) picks out his favourite fancies from Wednesday night's showdown between Chelsea and Arsenal.
Chelsea vs Arsenal | Wednesday 12th May 2021, 20:15 | Sky Sports
Champions League finalists Chelsea welcome Mikel Arteta and his Arsenal side to Stamford Bridge, safe in the knowledge that bar a monumental slip-up, their place in the top four is all but assured.
In contrasting situations, Arsenal currently sit in ninth spot and crashed out of the Europa League at the semi-final stage against Villarreal and former manager, Unai Emery.
It’s a fixture that down the years has provided us with goals and cards in abundance. However, I don’t think this one is going to be a blockbuster to go alongside the classics of recent times.
● Have allowed their opponents 11+ free kicks in 32 of their 35 EPL matches this season.
● In the 16 EPL games played since Tuchels arrival, only in two of them have there been four or more goals.
● In the eight EPL home games since Tuchel took the helm, only one has seen more than two goals – a 5-2 loss to West Brom in which they were down to 10 men.
● In those eight EPL home games, Chelsea have seen 3 or more cards on just one occasion.
● Thomas Tuchel will continue to rotate his side from Saturday's 2-1 win over Manchester City with an eye on this weekend's FA Cup final with Leicester.
● Thiago Silva didn't feature against City and is unlikely to be risked here even though Andreas Christensen is ruled out.
● Jorginho, Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell may be recalled for the welcome of Arsenal in midweek but the latter
● Have taken 11+ free kicks in 33 of their 35 EPL matches this campaign.
● Have managed to spring a surprise on Chelsea in recent years and are unbeaten on their last four midweek visits to Stamford Bridge.
● Are unbeaten in their last five EPL away games.
● Kieran Tierney, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Martin Odegaard and Thomas Partey should be recalled to the starting XI away to London rivals Chelsea on Wednesday night.
● Hector Bellerin and Calum Chambers are in competition to start at right-back in midweek.
● Only just back from injury, Alexandre Lacazette may not be fit enough to start just yet.
Referee: Andre Marriner
● Awarding an average of just 2.48 yellow cards per game this season.
● Awarding an average of just 19.30 fouls per game.
● Has been the referee for three games featuring Arsenal so far, with their opponents averaging just 1.00 yellow cards per game.
My first pick is for there to be under 3.5 goals in the game and for Arsenal to take 11+ free-kicks in the match.
Since Thomas Tuchel arrived in London to take charge at Stamford Bridge, goals have been somewhat scarce as their well organised defence has made them somewhat impenetrable at times. Arsenal will have to be extremely efficient if they’re to get on the scoresheet here.
I’m expecting Chelsea to make a couple of changes from the side that claimed victory and champions-in-waiting Manchester City. I think the unders is the play on this game. Combine that with the free-kick statistics and you get a healthy price of above evens.
My second pick of under 3 match goals and under 3 Chelsea cards has landed in 7/8 home games since Thomas Tuchel took charge of Chelsea.
As previously mentioned, the blues defence looks incredibly well drilled and Arsenal will have their work cut out for them if they’re to get on the scoresheet.
Pepe and co looked dangerous in their last outing against West Bromwich Albion, but the likes of Rudiger and Zouma will pose a much sterner test for Arteta and his Arsenal side.