The second matchday of the Premier League season brings us a London Derby between Arsenal and Chelsea. The Gunners, fresh off a loss to Brentford in a London Derby last week, are underdogs at home with a moneyline of +374 while Chelsea is a road favorite at -123. There is also a moneyline of +281 if the match ends in a draw.
Arsenal had arguably the most disastrous season opener of any Premier League side, losing 2-0 to newly-promoted Brentford. Coming off a season in which the Gunners finished eighth in the Premier League, it wasn’t a great start to the season for young manager Mikel Arteta. Needless to say, it doesn’t help Arsenal to face reigning European champions Chelsea in the second week of the season.
In Arsenal’s defense, the Gunners were playing without last year’s leading scorers Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. However, the status of both players is once again in question with both players being linked to a transfer to Barcelona. Promising youngster Folarin Balogun didn’t make enough of an impact while Emile Smith Rowe also failed to put his stamp on the game. On the bright side, the Gunners should get more out of Bakayo Saka, who came off the bench against Brentford after a fruitful summer at the Euros. Nicolas Pepe also gives the Gunners a strong presence on the wings, but without Aubameyang or Lacazette, Arsenal’s attacking prowess is questionable at best.
Defensively, Arsenal believed it upgraded over the summer with the signing of Ben White. However, Brentford was able to win battles in the midfield with young Belgium midfielder Albert Sambi Kokonga getting accustomed to the Premier League. The Gunners also expect better from fullbacks Callum Chambers and Kieran Tierney than they got against Brentford. Nevertheless, there will be concerns about the club’s defensive prowess after the 2-0 loss to Brentford.
Chelsea looked impressive during a 3-0 win over Crystal Palace last weekend. After Thomas Tuchel turned things around last season and led the Blues to a Champions League title, expectations are high this season for Chelsea to compete for a Premier League title. The Blues undoubtedly got off to a good start but know things will get tougher with a London Derby this weekend.
The Chelsea attack looked to be close to midseason form against Palace, owning 62% of the possession and firing six shots on goal with three finding the back of the net. The kicker is that the Blues weren’t at full strength. Romelu Lukaku has rejoined the club after wreaking havoc in Serie A last season and he will likely replace Timo Werner as the team’s starting striker. American Christian Pulisic also looked sharp in the season opener and scored his first goal of the season. Kai Havertz and Mason Mount are also attacking threats who should benefit from so much focus being on Lukaku.
Meanwhile, the Chelsea defense was also sharp against Crystal Palace last weekend. Keep in mind that the Chelsea defense was the best in Europe late last season, as Tuchel seemed to have figured out the right tactics. The lineup was a little different with Thiago Silva missing the match and Trevoh Chalobah taking his place. But the Blues rarely seemed to be uncomfortable when forced to defend.
At first glance, the Blues might seem like a safe bet to win this game. However, a London Derby between two old rivals should bring out the best the Gunners have to offer. They will also be a little more desperate after last week’s disappointing loss. Likewise, it’s best not to overreact too much to Chelsea dismantling Crystal Palace. While it’s hard to believe that Arsenal can pull off a win, there is a lot of value for bettors in this hotly-contested match ending in a draw.
Pick: 2-2 draw