Chelsea vs Arsenal | Wednesday 20th April 2022, 19:45 | Sky Sports
It is easy to forget that Thomas Tuchel was only appointed Chelsea manager on January 26th last year, yet on Sunday he guided the club to their SIXTH final since he took charge just 15 months ago – some record.
The FA Cup semi-final success at Wembley over Crystal Palace came just days after a heroic UEFA Champions League showing in the Bernabeu where after trailing 3-1 from the first leg, the Blues roared back, taking a 3-0 lead before eventually losing out in extra time to the record 13-time winners of the competition – the huge fixtures have certainly been coming thick and fast.
Chelsea go in to this clash third in the EPL table, five points clear of fourth-placed Spurs with two games in hand and a win against London rivals Arsenal will open up a, likely unassailable, eleven-point gap to the Gunners in fifth, who would have just six games remaining.
With the FA Cup the only silverware left to go for and with a win all but mathematically sealing a top four spot, it is some incentive to claim the three points for the German Head Coach knowing he can then manage the playing time of his key personnel ahead of a second domestic cup final date with Jurgen Klopp and his side in May.
Mikel Arteta has seen his side lose four of the last five games including all of the last three, seemingly falling apart after serious injuries to key defensive players Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey, another defeat here would not only take making the top four out of their hands but would be their longest losing sequence in the EPL since the 1994/95 season.
Having watched the Gunners recent abysmal showing in the 3-0 defeat to Crystal Palace, a repeat of that performance here would make for a long, very uncomfortable evening and a likely similar, if not worse outcome.
Another defeat to nil followed last weekend at an out of form Southampton side, with Arteta admitting afterwards his side’s top-four challenge is “losing impetus” – and the results from this season’s away games at the only two sides above Chelsea in the league does not bode well for the Spaniard.
Manchester City handed out a 5-0 drubbing at the Etihad, the visitors cause not helped by a first half red card to Granit Xhaka, but were already two goals down inside the opening quarter of an hour, with Liverpool issuing a 4-0 beating at Anfield in November – while the reverse fixture ended in a 2-0 win for the Blues at the Emirates in August.
Odds of a very backable 43/50 are available for a Chelsea win but with question marks around Alexandre Lacazette’s availability still, I’m prepared to be a little greedy here and back the home side to follow the trend and win-to-nil at a best price of 85/40 with Bet Victor.
I am also looking to get two players from the home team onside, firstly I can’t overlook the recent form of Mason Mount – who really does look back to his best after providing six direct goal involvements in his last three appearances, scoring four times.
The 23-Year-Old put in a player-of-the-match display at St. Mary’s scoring twice including his side’s sixth and final goal, started the comeback in Madrid by giving his side a 15th-minute lead with a clinical finish past Thibaut Courtois and killed off the Eagles on Sunday after playing a superb one-two with Timo Werner, to go on and add another composed finish as he passed the ball in to the net, this time past Jack Butland.
After a sluggish start to the season, the England midfielder has cemented his place in Chelsea’s front three, looking to control the tempo of games by often dropping deeper to implement Tuchel's tactics, but the recent flurry of goals has seen him in to double figures for the campaign, with 12 strikes in all competitions and I can see him exploiting the absence of Partey at Stamford Bridge to add at least one more to that tally.
The other player is a man the Chelsea faithful are desperate to see extend his stay at the club – but of course the club are unable to discuss terms with him at present due to still being under UK government sanctions – although he has also as yet not agreed a pre-contract with a non-English club, something he has been able to do since January.
The German international is a player reborn under the management of his countryman, who has made it clear to all he wants the defender to stay, while the passion displayed, particularly in the recent games in Madrid and at Wembley have highlighted why he has become such a firm fan favourite – something that has not always been the case since his move from Roma in 2017.
After being dropped and seemingly deemed surplus to requirements under Frank Lampard it appears the 29-year-old is flourishing after the TLC that has come his way, with arguably no bigger personality currently plying their trade in the EPL – or any defender showcasing their love for driving forward with the ball.
It will be a shock if we don’t hear at least one cry of “SHOOOOOOT” from the stands as Rudiger goes on a foray forward, and an even bigger shock if he doesn’t comply – especially after his recent 40-yard goal-of-season contender against Brentford rocketed in off a post and prompted wild celbrations!
Rudiger has remarkable stats from his last 10 competitive games for his club, taking 19 shots in total with an incredible 12 from outside the box including at least one in each of his last three games, although quite often blocked en-route to the goal, or with his radar a little off I am prepared to put some loose change on him hitting the target at least once from beyond the 18-yard line.
Top price is with Sky Bet at 13/2 but for the ultra-ambitious amongst us I can’t resist also taking 2+ at odds of 50/1 – especially considering this landed in that game here at the Bridge against Brentford just two home games ago!
Chelsea vs Arsenal – Chelsea to win to nil (85/40 Bet Victor)
Chelsea vs Arsenal – Mason Mount to score (5/2 Betfair)
Chelsea vs Arsenal – Antonio Rüdiger To Have 1+ Shots On Target From Outside The Box (13/2 SkyBet)
Chelsea vs Arsenal – Antonio Rüdiger To Have 2+ Shots On Target From Outside The Box (50/1 SkyBet)