Can struggling Arsenal upset Chelsea in Sunday’s London Derby?

It’s the first London Derby of the 2021/22 English Premier League season as millions of football enthusiasts look forward to this classic rivalry, when Arsenal play host to Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium in London on Sunday, 22 August.

Though the Premier season is still early stage, Arsenal fans have had very little to celebrate as the Gunners have been very disappointing of late. Last weekend, the football world was left in awe as Arsenal lost 2-0 to newly-promoted Premier League side Brentford on the opening day of the new Premier League season.

But Arsenal again can be very unpredictable when playing against clubs in the higher rank of the EPL table. Remember how the Gunners defeated Manchester City and Chelsea in 2020 to win the FA Cup when it was least expected. They can be unstable against a smaller club, but they always know how to find their rhythm in derby games, whether in London, North London, or Manchester.

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Arsenal have been under intense criticism lately from fans and investors, including the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, whose government has had a $42m sponsorship deal with Arsenal running since 2018. The deal involves a ‘Visit Rwanda’ logo displayed on Arsenal shirt sleeves. “We just must NOT excuse or accept mediocrity. A team has to be built with a purpose to win win win,” Kagame tweeted after Arsenal’s loss.

Arsenal is still dealing with an injury blow. Eddie Nketiah and Thomas Partey are out with ankle injuries, while Gabriel is also battling a knee injury. Although Alexandre Lacazette has been ruled out of Sunday’s clash at the Emirates as he’s yet to recover from his illness, the club announced late Thursday evening that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would train with the team after recovering from COVID-19 and may likely play on Sunday.

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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said, “I don’t know if they’ll be available for the next game. What I can control and help, I’ll put all my enthusiasm and work into that.”

It may be too early to predict another woeful season for Arsenal after failing to qualify for European competition for the first time in 25 years following an abysmal 2020/2021 season that saw them finishing eighth-place. But there is a lot of seriousness and hard fighting expected from the Gunners if they are to be taken seriously this season. Chelsea, the European Champions, are still basking in the euphoria of UEFA Super Cup victory. As strong Premier League title contenders this season, they are not likely to allow Arsenal to be a clog in their wheel.

With striker Romelu Lukaku ready to make his second debut for the Blues, it may appear there’s not much to be worried about for Thomas Tuchel’s side as they travel to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday. And judging by the present form of the two teams, Chelsea are favourites for the London derby, but again, Arsenal can be unpredictable, especially in a derby.

Despite finishing 8th place last season, Arsenal defeated the Champions League winner Chelsea in their two meetings – 3-1 at home in December and 1-0 at Stamford Bridge in May. Can the Gunners cause another upset? On Sunday, we’ll find out.

Fans wait to see how Arteta’s side will prove their mettle as they take on Chelsea in their first Premier League home game of the season.

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