The Premier League is full of surprises; at the beginning of the season, the idea that Arsenal would be top of the table with eight games left and Chelsea would be in the bottom half is probably not an opinion you would have found among fans and pundits.
However, Arsenal’s new electric brand of football has proved to be scintillating and difficult to contain for almost all of their opponents this campaign, and as we head into the crunch period of the league, each game becomes a cup final.
Chelsea isn’t a club that strikes fear into anybody at the moment – apart from their fans. However, despite winning the Champions League less than two years ago, the club is facing its biggest crisis in a generation, following its influential ex-owner’s abrupt departure back in May 2022.
Although Chelsea’s season has finished and they don’t have much left to play for, they could provide a significant moment in this year’s title race more indirectly than they would have hoped at the start of the season, when they face Arsenal at the Emirates at the beginning of May.
Arsenal’s title charge
At the beginning of April, the Gunners looked like they had one hand on the Premier League trophy. However, the relentlessness of Manchester City’s campaign and the efficiency of their finely-tuned, expensive squad has closed the gap. Arteta’s men haven’t helped matters by blowing two-goal leads in two consecutive games – at the top end of the table; it could be these small mistakes that decide the title.
Irrespective of how the season ends for Arsenal, they look like they’ll be serious contenders for the league over the next few years. At the beginning of the season, some pundits fancied them to break into the top four. However, nobody could envisage the complete meltdown of Liverpool FC or Chelsea FC, which has blown open the possibility of a new team getting into the Champions League.
This is an opportunity that Newcastle have grabbed with both hands, and although there has been a resurgence in form from Liverpool, it looks like they’ve left it far too late. Regarding this season’s form, Arsenal has some of the top attacking prospects in world football firing on all cylinders.
Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Ødegaard have propelled the iconic North London club right back into the upper echelons of the domestic league, which is where they should be, on merit. This is the natural end game for a well-thought-out and balanced recruitment strategy that Arteta implemented a few seasons ago.
Can Chelsea win at the Emirates?
Football is unpredictable and although you can never rule anything out, Chelsea seems to lack the organisation, togetherness and firepower to do anything in the Emirates. As a team in transition, Chelsea had a disaster with Graham Potter and has spent an absolute fortune on players trying to mix and match their way back into title contention.
Unfortunately, throwing the proverbial kitchen sink at a mix of fantasy football players hasn’t worked and it looks like Chelsea is the very definition of too many cooks spoiling the broth.
It is the worst Chelsea side for a generation and they don’t look like they’re operating with a plan. Since Abramovich sold up, they seem to be a business without any direction, and next year will be Chelsea’s most significant for 20 years. However, Chelsea could be the final nail in the coffin for Arsenal’s title charge if they can pick up points at the Emirates.
Even if Arsenal are deflated by letting the title slip out of their hands, you’d think they still have far too much for Chelsea, especially at home. The Emirates has acted as a fortress for Arteta’s men this season.
Given that their top-performing players still have their best years ahead of them, they will be geared up in this London derby to assert their dominance over a club that has proved to be the top club in the capital over the last few years.
Depending on how well this Chelsea team adapt to a new man in the dugout, they’ll have their chances but shouldn’t have too much to trouble Arsenal; we fancy the Gunners to win this one either 2-0 or 2-1.
This fixture could take on a different level of ferocity depending on the shape of the table going into the game. However, regardless of this, Arteta will be keen to crack on with their fantastic home record this season and finish it on a positive note in front of their home supporters.