Arsenal v Chelsea: Oppose goals in Boxing Day derby
Out-of-sorts Arsenal entertain capital rivals Chelsea at The Emirates on Boxing Day and Mark O'Haire is backing a low-scoring match...
Arsenal v Chelsea
Saturday December 26, 17:30
Arteta admits Arsenal "are in a big fight"
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta said the Gunners "are in a big fight" after suffering their eighth Premier League defeat of the season at Everton last weekend. The North Londoners have accrued just 14 points from their 14 league fixtures, the club's worst record at this stage of a season since 1974 and come into this contest just four points above the relegation zone.
Arsenal, admittedly without main striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, should have been beaten by half-time as Everton dominated and Arteta's side showed an alarming lack of urgency, exemplified by another poor display from Willian. The Gunners did improve after the break, David Luiz seeing a shot deflected on to the post as they fell short.
Speaking post-match, Arteta said: "It's very similar to the last few weeks. We are trying, dominating the game but in the small moments we are losing the game. We lost, conceding an own goal and a set-piece."
The Spaniard could look to recall Granit Xhaka and Gabriel from suspension here, whilst Aubameyang is also expected to be in contention.
Chelsea flattered by Monday night victory
Tammy Abraham scored twice as Chelsea ended their recent mini-slump by beating West Ham 3-0 at Stamford Bridge to move up to fifth in the Premier League. Back-to-back defeats had seen the Blues slip down the table but they made the ideal start on Monday night when Thiago Silva powered home a header inside the opening 10 minutes.
Timo Werner spurned a couple of good chances to add to the hosts' lead but he played his part in his side's second 12 minutes from time as his scuffed shot was turned in by Abraham. Abraham then netted another barely two minutes later when he was in the right place to pick up the loose ball and curl home after Christian Pulisic had missed a simple header.
The scoreline somewhat flattered Chelsea with West Ham having been the better side for large periods with Frank Lampard acknowledging his team weren't at their best. The Blues boss is hoping to have left-back Ben Chilwell and right-back Reece James available for the festive period with the former forced off early on Monday with an ankle injury.
Gunners friendless in the market
Arsenal were 2-1 winners when the two teams locked horns in the FA Cup final in August and the Gunners come into the contest having enjoyed slight supremacy over Chelsea when meeting at The Emirates over the past seven years. The hosts hold a W3-D3-L2 record in this fixture across all competitions, although did lose their last match-up here 12 months ago.
Arsenal 4.00 have never been a bigger price at home to Chelsea in the Premier League and it's easy to see why the Gunners are short on support. Mikel Arteta's men have W2-D2-L8 when excluding the bottom-three and managed just two open play goals in their last 10 games - 15 hours of football. Only four clubs are averaging fewer shots in the box than Arsenal.
Chelsea 2.00 returned to winning ways on Monday night but Frank Lampard's charges haven't completely convinced against the league's elite. The Blues have W1-D3-L3 against sides in 11th and above and took top honours in just six of 16 fixtures with the top-nine teams last term, earning a reputation as the Premier League's flat-track bullies.
Oppose goals at The Emirates
Only Burnley 2.08 are seeing fewer goals per-game this season than Arsenal 2.14 with the Gunners' matches rarely proving to be thrill-a-minute affairs. Half of Arsenal's 14 league fixtures have featured Under 2.5 Goals and a repeat at The Emirates is rated a 2.02 chance. Chelsea have also seen Unders land in all four match-ups with top-six teams.
Surprisingly, the Blues' Premier League outings are producing fewer Expected Goals (xG) from open play than Arsenal's, and there's a chance this contest could follow a familiar pattern between Big Six rivals. Indeed, seven of 10 games between the traditional Big Six have fallen below the 2.5 goals line, three of which concluded goalless.
The visitors have lacked their early season verve and vibrancy in forward areas in recent weeks and the possible unavailability of either first-choice full-back weakens Chelsea's attack further. With Arsenal also falling short in the offensive third, I'm happy to take the odds-against quotes on the London derby failing to feature three or more goals.
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