Chelsea kick off their season just as they finished the last, facing Arsenal at Wembley. This time the Community Shield is on the line, a trophy which ranks fifth in the Blues’ list of priorities. However, this is the best indicator of where the champions are in their preparations for the new season, following a busy summer of incomings and outgoings. This is also a test of the squad, something which could prove key to the last month of transfer business at the Bridge.
The Blues are limited in terms of selection, but they have plenty of last season’s star names ready for a new campaign. After the poor title defence we saw during 2015/16, Conte needs to keep these players hungry for success, their performances could be key, alongside some new signings to add competition for places and squad depth. We’ll know more about what the Blues need following this Arsenal game, but will they be able to warm up for a new campaign and their return to the Champions League by claiming silverware at Wembley?
Team News: Chelsea to revert to type in curtain raiser
While Chelsea’s transfer business in 2017 has been hugely successful financially, they’ve arguably come out of the summer weaker so far. They’re looking light on bodies, especially with Tiemoue Bakayoko missing the start of the campaign. With limited options, we see the champions going with a 3-4-3 set-up once again, as Conte doesn’t have the capacity in his squad to switch things up.
The Blues are missing Victor Moses, who was sent off in the FA Cup final against Arsenal, while Eden Hazard is injured. That’s likely to see Cesar Azpilicueta step across to right wing-back, with Antonio Rudiger coming into the back three. Cesc Fabregas will partner N’Golo Kante, while Michy Batshuayi is rivalling Alvaro Morata for a place in the side. After starting every preseason game, the Belgian must be in with a shout, and he’s surely in better shape than the £58million new boy.
Arsenal have a new striker of their own on show, with Alexandre Lacazette set to start up front. He’s likely to be supported by Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez in a 3-4-3 formation, which Arsenal switched to following Chelsea’s success with the tactic last term. With no other major signings, don’t expect to see too many changes from the Gunners’ last clash with Chelsea at Wembley.
Arsenal managed to end their Bayern Munich hoodoo in preseason, beating the Bavarians on penalties. That probably sums up the unpredictability of preseason. The Gunners were able to celebrate two trophies, one of which came after that victory against Bayern. The resulting presentation did see Petr Cech having to tell his teammates to not go overboard in their excitement to lift a meaningless trophy.
The Gunners’ last game saw them lose 2-1 to Sevilla, before being presented the Emirates Cup as a result of the number of goals they’d scored. All of that will count for little at Wembley this weekend. Arsenal have played more minutes in preseason, but they may have gone a little overboard in terms of travelling.
Arsenal v Chelsea Head to Head
Our head to head record for these sides doesn’t include a meeting between them this summer, during their preseason tours. Chelsea won that game 3-0 despite having significantly less preparation, but that should mean little here. Both managers are experienced enough to avoid taking much from friendly games, especially as the Blues went and lost to Bayern and Inter shortly after.
- Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea, May 2017
- Chelsea 3-1 Arsenal, Feb 2017
- Arsenal 3-0 Chelsea, Sep 2016
- Arsenal 0-1 Chelsea, Jan 2016
- Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal, Sep 2015
- Chelsea to win – 23/20 with BetVictor
- Michy Batshuayi to score – 7/4 with Betfred
The Blues’ Wembley defeat in May hasn’t affected the bookies’ confidence in them. Not only are they leading contenders for the title, but they have been made favourites for this clash. However, they seem to represent good value at 23/20 with BetVictor. While Chelsea are missing a couple of star names, they do have players to step in during the short term, although reinforcements are needed. The Blues should be able to manage without Moses at right-back, it may actually help them based on his display during the cup final. Hazard’s absence is a blow, but having Willian, Pedro and Fabregas on the pitch should create chances.
While those three in the same team can be seen as a risk – Fabregas in a midfield two always feels like a weak link – Azpilicueta’s solidity should help. He won’t venture forward at the same rate as Moses, meaning that Rudiger, Cahill and Luiz will have plenty of cover. That should be enough to frustrate Lacazette, so we’re backing the champions to take a victory from the curtain raiser. Barring an awful start against Bayern, Chelsea have been solid this summer, and they will be itching to make up for their FA Cup defeat. We see more silverware for Conte, and we’re backing the Blues at 23/20 with BetVictor here, with a win to nil looking very tempting at 3/1 with Bet365.
The one area that we can see Conte pulling a surprise is up front. The players available to him mean he can only really play a 3-4-3, which forces a choice between Batshuayi and Morata. The Belgians’ late flourish, preseason displays and his summer bulk make him a serious contender for a starting spot. Morata made one start this summer, before being taken off after 65 minutes. He might not be ready for a competitive game, while Batshuayi is an adept replacement who hit two against Arsenal last month. We’re backing him to score any time at 7/4 with Betfred and he’s also worth a punt to score first we fancy.