“Last year we won the game against Everton with a 25% chance of winning. Last weekend it was a 67% chance of winning any game in Premier League history and a nine per cent chance of losing, and you lose. Three per cent against Burnley and you lose, seven per cent against Spurs, and you lose. There is something else apart from the performance on the pitch, it is something else that needs to go our way and at the moment it doesn’t.”
So said Mikel Arteta in a press conference earlier this week. It was brave of him to ponder if there is something beyond what has been happening on the pitch at the root of Arsenal’s problems when he himself would appear to be Exhibit A in the list of potential answers.
Arsenal v Chelsea, December 26: 5.30pm
Sky Sports Premier League
Arteta wasn’t entirely wrong in his assertion though, as strange as it sounds, because the Gunners have been wasting decent chances throughout this season. Arsenal have scored 12 league goals from chances worth closer to 18 expected goals, and three of their last five defeats have begun with an own goal benefitting the opposition. There’s shooting yourself in the foot, and then there’s using a missile launcher to do it.
But they also drew games with Leeds and Southampton – to use recent examples – in which their opponents had the better of the chances. Arsenal are not dominant enough and so their fate will always be left open to the gods of football. Or Alexandre Lacazette missing a sitter, one or the other.
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As Arteta is interested in percentages, he might like to learn that Paddy thinks his side have roughly a 25 per cent chance of coming out on top in this London derby. Chelsea won this fixture last season, at the same time of year shortly after Arsenal had appointed Arteta, and it looks likely we’ll have a similar result this time around too.
Except that there’s one fly in the ointment for the Blues, and it’s their terrible record in big games under Frank Lampard. Since the start of last season, Arsenal and Chelsea are the bottom two in the ‘big six’ mini-league.
The latter have reached Christmas without beating a side who are currently above 12th in the league away from home. Chelsea’s win against West Ham on Monday night was their first of the campaign against any club currently in the top half, and even then the Hammers are 10th.
But as Arsenal are firmly entrenched in the bottom half and might end the weekend in 17th spot depending on results, the visitors should be very confident of winning this match.
Only Burnley, Sheffield United and West Bromwich Albion have failed to score more times than Arsenal this season, and if we exclude penalties for the hell of it, the Gunners have drawn a blank in eight of their 14 league matches.
Not that Chelsea have been any better when it comes to the big games, having scored nil in their matches with Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham. The fact that they only conceded twice in those clashes – both to the champions, and once thanks to a howler from the now demoted Kepa Arrizabalaga – suggests that chances should be at a premium in this game. It would not be a surprise to see fewer than three goals, and at least one nil on the scoreline.
Trying to predict goal scorer bets is always challenging, but at this time of year it’s even harder. Sure, you know that Manchester United will get a penalty if they’re playing, but will it be Bruno Fernandes’ turn to have a breather when it happens?
Timo Werner is very much due a goal though, so assuming he features here then he’s worth a look. Since scoring in Chelsea’s win over Sheffield United, the German international has had 16 shots in the league, with seven on target and has accumulated over three expected goals without finding the net. Even Christian Benteke has been scoring lately, so Werner has surely got to start banging them in before too much longer?
*All odds in copy are correct at time of publication and they’re always bang on with our clever betting banners.
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