Chelsea’s trip to Arsenal is a game laden with pre-match talking points; how will Cesc Fabregas fare on his return to the Emirates? Will Arsene Wenger finally remove the Jose Mourinho millstone from around his neck?
All interesting topics worthy of discussion, but none are quite so difficult to answer as how on earth are the Blues 11/5 underdogs to win in north London.
The outsider status is derived from the fact the bwin odds gurus are siding with form, going 7/5 about the on-song Gunners extending a run of eight successive Premier League victories, while it’s 9/4 the contest between second and first ends honours even.
Even taking the scintillating showings Arsene Wenger’s men have been turning out of late into consideration, the price about Chelsea is one punters can’t ignore, as these reasons will attest.
Wenger can’t beat Mourinho.
In total the pair have pitted wits 13 times and the Portuguese coach has, incredibly, never been on the losing side.
The key to his success is the pragmatic, spoiling style of play he adopts, while steadfast Wenger refuses to alter his modus operandi.
Chelsea are just as stern as they have always been and expect to see a safety-first approach adopted in this inter-capital clash.
Since Mourinho returned to Stamford Bridge, Arsenal haven’t so much as scored a goal against them, recording one goalless draw and losing the remaining three by a 10-0 deficit.
Chelsea’s form isn’t that much worse than Arsenal’s.
The Blues travel across London having won five successive top-flight away games.
Throw in a Champions League match at Paris Saint-Germain and a Capital One Cup trip to Liverpool (two teams of comparable quality to the Gunners) and they haven’t lost in seven sojourns.
Some of their less impressive showings have been at home; on the road they’ve been brilliant.
No side has been better against top half opposition than Chelsea.
The Blues sit the summit of a table comprised on results against teams in the top half by some margin.
They’re seven points clear of nearest rivals Liverpool having won ten and drawn five of their 16 encounters thus far, prevailing in three of their last four.
Arsenal are some way short of this standard, with only 21 points from 45 available after losing six times.
Versus foes in the top third they’ve lost four times, whereas Chelsea have lost just once.