Chelsea and Arsenal are far out of the running for the Premier League title this season, but the two clubs still have plenty to play for in their Tuesday matchup at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea sits in fourth place on the EPL table, while Arsenal is languishing in 10th position.
Arsenal Still Fighting for European Position
That’s an unacceptably low position for one of England’s most storied clubs. Arsenal has just six wins in its first 23 matches, and has drawn 11 matches, the most in the EPL this season.
Despite those struggles, the Gunners remain in contention for a European position. Arsenal is just five points back of fifth-place Manchester United for a Europa League position, while Chelsea holds the fourth and final Champions League position with 39 points.
That 10-point gap between Chelsea and Arsenal is formidable, but not insurmountable. Manager Mikel Arteta says that any hope of moving into a European position has to begin with a win on Tuesday.
“It’s very, very important for us to win this game to fight for [the top four],” Arteta told reporters. “The game we played at home could have made a big difference, and we were very close to it. [Tuesday] we need to win.”
Arteta referenced a 2-1 loss at home to Chelsea that came less than a month ago. That Dec. 29 loss is the only defeat Arsenal has tasted since Arteta took over a month ago. Now, he says the challenge is to gain enough consistency to put together a string of wins that could see the club shoot up the table.
“If we are able to win three or four games on the trot, then we are right there,” Arteta said. “Everyone is having a lot of problems to put together back-to-back wins … the league has been very competitive this season, and the gaps aren’t that big.”
Chelsea Needs Wins to Maintain Position
Chelsea comes into the match after a 1-0 loss at Newcastle United. That defeat hurt Chelsea’s chances of catching Leicester City or Manchester City and moving into the top three, but the club is still solidly entrenched in a Champions League position.
Premier League Odds (Tuesday Matches)
- Bournemouth (+180) vs. Brighton (+155)
- Sheffield United (+600) vs. Man City (-250)
- Everton (-195) vs. Newcastle (+550)
- Crystal Palace (+160) vs. Southampton (+180)
- Aston Villa (+190) vs. Watford (+145)
- Chelsea (-130) vs. Arsenal (+360)
Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook
Manager Frank Lampard says that Tuesday’s matchup is still critical for his side because of the unusual dynamics at play in the EPL this season.
“It would have been nice to have a gap, because the league is so competitive and so fluid,” Lampard told reporters. “Our next league games are tough games, important ones with teams around us, so let’s not get too concerned with the gap, but concern ourselves game by game, and can we get wins.”
Oddsmakers give Chelsea an excellent chance to pick up three points on Tuesday. FanDuel Sportsbook lists Chelsea as a -130 favorite, while Arsenal is +360 to get the road win at Stamford Bridge.
Also on Tuesday, Sheffield United (+600) tries to stay in European contention with a tough home match against Man City (-250), while Everton (-195) plays host to Newcastle (+550) in a battle of two clubs fighting to escape mid-table positions.