Arteta hails Arsenal resilience as crucial Chelsea clash looms

By Sports Desk April 22, 2024

Mikel Arteta has praised Arsenal for showing resilience during a difficult period and described his players as a "joy to work with" ahead of a crucial week in the Premier League title race. 

All three title contenders – Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City – are in action twice this week, with the Gunners taking on Chelsea and Tottenham in two huge London derbies.

They returned to the top of the table with Saturday's 2-0 win over injury-hit Wolves, but with City possessing a game in hand, the destination of the trophy remains out of their hands. 

Following a difficult few days in which Arsenal surrendered control of the title race and exited the Champions League against Bayern Munich, Arteta was delighted with their response at Molineux. 

"If you look at the amount of games we have played in the last few weeks, the type of games we have played, their effort is unquestionable and the results are something else," Arteta said.

"It's a joy to work with them, and it makes us realise we want to be involved in the big competitions, fighting for the Champions League, fighting for the Premier League with the level that it requires."

Chelsea's ambitions, meanwhile, are limited to securing qualification for either the Europa League or the Europa Conference League, with their hopes of silverware being dashed on Saturday. 

They were guilty of spurning several golden opportunities in their 1-0 defeat to City at Wembley Stadium, with their wait for a first trophy under the Todd Boehly regime being extended.

Mauricio Pochettino, though, is choosing to take the positives from that game as the Blues bid to draw level with Newcastle United and Manchester United in the table on Tuesday.  

"Now we need to take the positive things from the game," Pochettino said. "This group of players needs these types of moments and games.

"Now is the time to finish the season in the best way and then see how we can do better next season."

PLAYERS TO WATCH 

Arsenal – Leandro Trossard

Trossard scored in October's reverse fixture as Arsenal fought back from 2-0 down to clinch a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge, and he has provided an invaluable source of goals from the left wing in recent games, with Gabriel Jesus struggling.

The former Brighton and Hove Albion man is enjoying his most prolific Premier League campaign, with nine goals, and only Bukayo Saka (14) has netted more for the Gunners this term.

Chelsea – Nicolas Jackson

Jackson missed several clear-cut chances as Chelsea failed to make the breakthrough against City at Wembley on Saturday, and he is perhaps running out of chances to show he can be the Blues' long-term solution in that number nine role.

Jackson's 10 Premier League goals this season have come from a total of 13.98 expected goals (xG), giving him an underperformance of -3.98. Only Dominic Calvert Lewin (-5.98) and Darwin Nunez (-4.1) have underperformed their underlying numbers by a greater margin.

MATCH PREDICTION – ARSENAL WIN

Arsenal have only lost one of their last eight Premier League games against Chelsea (five wins, two draws), going unbeaten through their last four against them. That is their longest such streak versus the Blues since they went 19 matches against them without defeat between 1995 and 2005.

Chelsea are unbeaten in their last eight Premier League games (four wins, four draws) and have scored multiple goals in each of their last six. However, that run could come to a halt at the Emirates, with Arsenal possessing a strong record in the biggest games this term.

City and Liverpool have already left north London defeated this season, and Arsenal have not lost back-to-back home Premier League games since April 2022. Chelsea should be competitive, but the Gunners cannot afford to miss this chance to pull clear of their rivals. 

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Arsenal 51%

Chelsea 22.5%

Draw 26.5%

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