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Wenger may regret lost momentum when Arsenal visit Chelsea

17 Sep | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Wenger may regret lost momentum when Arsenal visit Chelsea

The London rivals’ contrasting Champions League results has significantly altered the dynamic of this exciting Saturday lunchtime clash

What a difference 90-odd minutes can make.

Prior to Wednesday night’s Champions League fixtures, Arsenal appeared primed to effectively end the struggling Chelsea’s title defence after just six games at Stamford Bridge on Saturday lunchtime.

That can still happen, of course, but the Blues’ emphatic win over Maccabi Tel Aviv coupled with Arsenal’s dismal defeat against Dinamo Zagreb has completely altered the dynamic.

Rather than Jose Mourinho, it is Arsene Wenger who is the manager under pressure.

The Frenchman has been susceptible to criticism ever since he decided that Petr Cech was the only improvement his squad needed this summer to be good enough to win the Premier League.

Losing Danny Welbeck and Jack Wilshere to long-term injuries – both of which were suffered before the transfer window closed – did not help, either.

And then there was this week’s opening group game in Croatia, where Wenger took a significant – and unnecessary – risk by resting a host of first-team players with this weekend’s match in mind.

He obviously thought the team he selected was of the requisite quality to win the game. He was wrong.

The trip to Chelsea now, therefore, is a match his side dare not lose.

It was only six weeks ago, in the Community Shield, that Wenger achieved his first ever win over Mourinho.

And while the Gunners have not won at the Bridge since triumphing 5-3 in 2011, they have won seven of their last eight away games in the league.

That unbeaten run stretches all the way back to February and they are 2/1 to claim all three points.

Theo Walcott scored from the substitutes’ bench in the midweek defeat in Zagreb and should start in attack – a sensible decision considering the hosts’ vulnerability to pace this season.

Walcott was also on target in last weekend’s win over Stoke – his 11th top-flight goal in as many starts – and is 6/1 to open the scoring.

For Mourinho, meanwhile, his disposition has changed entirely after his side won their first home game of the season – keeping their first clean sheet in the process – against the Israeli champions.

And aside from Eden Hazard’s missed penalty, it was a night of several positives for the Portuguese.

Diego Costa, who was introduced from the bench, demonstrated his impressive physical prowess and technique by volleying in the third of their four goals.

The Spain international – a scorer in this fixture last season – is likely to play from the start and is 9/2 to grab the game’s first goal.

Another bonus for Chelsea in midweek was the return to form of Cesc Fabregas.

The playmaker, who has been way below his best so far in the league, provided a lovely assist for Costa before tapping in for his first goal of the season.

Fabregas will, of course, endeavour to produce a similar performance against the team he used to captain and is 5/1 to score at any point during the match.

Chelsea’s league position remains precarious, but they are 11/8 to win and 11/4 to be in front at both half-time and full-time.

The latter is intriguing considering the West London club have led at the midway stage in their last seven matches against Arsenal on home soil.

Despite the difference in aesthetics between the football their respective sides play, Mourinho and Wenger have much in common.

Both are all-powerful managers whose usually-steadfast position is, for the moment, ever so slightly vulnerable.

The pair also share a mutual and equal disdain for one another.

Inflicting further angst on their opponent, then, is a prospect both will relish just as much as winning three points.

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