The Arsenal-Chelsea London derby has been one of the marquee fixtures in the English Premier League over the past decade and a half. That fixture returns to centerstage tomorrow.
In 2012, one of the most exciting and enthralling games of soccer was played at Stamford Bridge. Arsenal got the better of their London counterparts in a high scoring 5-3 affair during a season where Arsene Wenger and company would secure third in the league standings while the Blues somehow finished one spot below Newcastle at sixth.
Out of all the free flowing goal-scoring chances and passing movements, Theo Walcott’s clumsy, yet beautiful, goal stands out as the most memorable of the match. The way he so gracefully fell, moved the ball so elegantly from right to left to some space before rifling the ball in the back of the net for a commanding lead was breathtaking to say the least.
All kidding aside the goal was decently impressive and was reminiscent of this goal he scored a year later.
Tomorrow’s primetime matchup will surely not only see equally impressive thumping goals, but also two new managers fighting to make strides into their new tenures.
For Chelsea’s Maurizio Sarri, a second win to start off the campaign against a much tougher opponent than Huddersfield could begin to solidify all the acclaim he received at Napoli. On the other hand, Arsenal’s Unai Emery could dig himself into a pickle after playing two of the toughest tests of the season in the first two games.
Last week, Sarri’s Chelsea looked like a different animal from the ones we saw under Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho. Sarri brings a more free flowing attack to an otherwise disciplined defense. If Morata can actually do his job and score some easy goals, they’ll coast to one of the Champions League spots.
Emery is tasked with turning his already free flowing side into one that has more discipline and defensive shape. While that didn’t turn out too well against the defending champions, Arsenal’s new signings were a bright spot.
Matteo Guendouzi looks like a better, younger version of a Xhaka-Elneny hybrid and Lucas Torreira could become the next Santi Cazorla. Also, a reinvigorated Lacazette could serve the otherwise poor front line well.
While early-August soccer still means players aren’t as sharp as you’d expect, these early fixtures are still as meaningful as ever.