Arsenal and Chelsea lock horns in the International Champions Cup as part of their pre-season tour on Wednesday at the Aviva Stadium.
The Aviva Stadium plays host to a London derby as Arsenal and Chelsea face each other to round out their International Champions Cup journey. Chelsea will be facing AS Roma later on but this will serve as Arsenal’s last match of the pre-season event, with their match against Sevilla getting cancelled.
Arsenal are having a good pre-season so far. Majority of their stars have returned to be part of the pre-season and Unai Emery has been using it as an opportunity to build chemistry within the squad and between the new players and the existing ones.
Emery and Sarri are also looking to get a hold of what their preferred eleven will be going into the season and the players who might be expendable within the squad as they look to rebuild the two rosters.
Despite it being a friendly, with a few matches under their belt, Arsenal will be looking to continue their good pre-season against Chelsea. We take a closer look at the two squads.
Team News & Tactics
Lucas Torreira and Stephan Lichtsteiner have both resumed training, but have not joined the squad. The duo are currently training in Colney and are likely to join up with the squad in Sweden for the friendly against Lazio, meaning they will not be available for the match against Chelsea.
Unai Emery has chosen to start Bernd Leno in both the games so far in the International Champions Cup and we can expect the German to be deployed between the posts again on Wednesday. The manager has shifted his defensive options in the two games, but is likely to select a strong lineup for the Chelsea test.
The back four from the match against PSG – Hector Bellerin, Sokratis, Shkodran Mustafi and Sead Kolasinac – should be retained. Alexandre Lacazette’s performance against PSG should catapult him into the starting eleven, with the player likely to be deployed alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Unai Emery should experiment the ability of the two to play together before the season starts. A modern version of 4-4-2 – the 4-2-2-2 should be the preferred formation against Chelsea, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Mesut Ozil behind the strikers.
Matteo Guendouzi will start as one half of the pivot while Mohamed ElNeny should partner him, with Aaron Ramsey in the midst of transfer speculation.
Probable Lineup (4-2-2-2): Leno; Bellerin, Sokratis, Mustafi, Kolasinac; Guendouzi, ElNeny; Mkhitaryan, Ozil; Aubameyang, Lacazette
Maurizio Sarri will also look to get a feel of the squad before the Community Shield match against Manchester City. Robert Green could be handed his first start as a Chelsea star. Kurt Zouma is injured and is set to sit out the pre-season.
Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen should come into the lineup as the centre-backs. Cesar Azpilicueta should come in on the right side of the defence, with Marcos Alonso retaining his place on the left. But, Ross Barkley is likely to be replaced by Tiemoue Bakayoko in the starting lineup.
Jorginho and Cesc Fabregas, on the other hand, should retain their place in the midfield. Sarri has hinted he is happy with Alvaro Morata during the pre-season and the Spaniard is expected to start upfront against Arsenal.
Charly Musonda was an unused substitute against Inter Milan and could be handed a start against Arsenal, with Callum Hudson-Odoi likely to retain his place on the other wing after a decent display in Chelsea’s first game of the International Champions Cup.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Green; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Christensen, Alonso; Fabregas, Jorginho, Bakayoko; Musonda, Morata, Hudson-Odoi
Journey So Far in the International Champions Cup
Arsenal lost to Atletico Madrid in their first match in the International Champions Cup on penalties. The Gunners missed three of the regulation spot-kicks in what would be something that bothers Unai Emery. Arsenal did respond in fantastic fashion against PSG, with majority of the first-team stars in the starting eleven. The Gunners demolished a second-string PSG side 5-1.
Chelsea had a start quite similar to their London rivals. Their summer arrival Jorginho excited everyone with his passing guile. But, the Blues had to go to the penalties to emerge as the winners against Inter Milan.
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The former Napoli man will have his first real test, even if it is a friendly atmosphere. With Unai Emery set to name a strong eleven, Jorginho’s ability to find teammates with the accuracy he commanded against Inter Milan will be put to test.
Sarri would hope it is the case as this would be good preparation for the Italian midfielder ahead of the Community Shield match against Manchester City. Jorginho will also get a first taste of what the London rivalry will feel like in a competitive environment.
If he is able to clock similar numbers to what he managed against Inter Milan and Perth Glory, Chelsea fans could be in for a load of excitement and frenzy going into the season.
Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea
Arsenal have most of their first-team stars available. Along with it, the Gunners have played more pre-season matches, which means they are a level above Chelsea in terms of fitness. Maurizio Sarri has already stressed the pre-season is not about the results.
But, Chelsea will make it tough for Arsenal on Wednesday. The Gunners though, have greater quality of players available at the present moment and should be able to edge the game. It is likely to be an enticing midfield battle and one that could set the tone for the derbies to come ahead in the 2018-19 campaign.