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Top-Four Finish Might Not Guarantee Champions League Place

The race for the UEFA Champions League in the  Premier League season will go right to the wire as Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea are still in the running for the final two places. While whichever side manages to secure third spot will be guaranteed Champions League football next year, if the Blues or Spurs finish fouth, they could miss out on Europe’s elite competition.

Latest: Have Chelsea Left it Too Late to Hijack Sanchez Deal?

One of the biggest transfer stories of the summer included Alexis Sanchez’s apparent desire to leave to Arsenal. Due to his contract at the Emirates having just under a year to run at the time, the price offered certainly didn’t justify the quality of the Chilean forward. The situation never came to anything but with Arsenal’s shocking season so far, he is now the talk of the January window with a fee of £30 million being discussed.

Chelsea vs Arsenal Preview: Toughest Test of the Season So Far

Premier League action returns to Stamford Bridge tomorrow, with Chelsea taking on arch-rivals Arsenal in what promises to be one of the games of the season so far. The Blues look to have shaken off their early season worries – winning three tough-looking Premier League games on the bounce whilst Arsenal have struggled for consistency and would dearly love to put a marker down here.

Formation

Nothing seems to sway Antonio Conte away from his 3-4-3 formation – which is now being replicated by most of the teams in the Premier League. Having three at the back centrally seems to give the Blues plenty of security, both in and out of possession and as a result, the creative influences on the team (Hazard, Fabregas etc.) seem to benefit from being awarded more space in the middle of the field.

Team Selection

Conte gave a Champions League start to Thibaut Courtois, which is perhaps an indication of the importance he’s placing on European competition this season – and the Belgian will start again here.

Gary Cahill impressed in the Champions League in midweek and should return following a domestic suspension, whilst David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta should also feature in the heart of the defence.

Marcos Alonso has been in fine form and will retain his place at left wing-back but Conte has a decision to make at right wing-back. Victor Moses was the unsung hero of last year’s title-winning campaign but Davide Zappacosta has arrived from Torino and looks to be a serious contender for this position and impressed greatly against FK Qarabag on Tuesday evening.

N’Golo Kante will be keeping things ticking in midfield, whether that’s alongside Cesc Fabregas or Tiemoue Bakayoko is another call Conte will have to make with Danny Drinkwater still out.

Alvaro Morata has scored in each of his Premier League games at Stamford Bridge and will lead the line. Eden Hazard is now fit after recovering from his ankle injury and in contention with Willian and Pedro also vying for the two places flanking Morata up front.

Predicted Starting XI 

Courtois (GK)

Moses

Cahill

Luiz

Azpilicueta

Alonso

Kante

Bakayoko

Hazard

Willian

Morata

Where the Game Will Be Won or Lost

Both teams come into this game on the back of European wins and will be eager to make a winning return to domestic football.

Chelsea have a well-oiled formation and tactical setup that will allow them to control the game from the back and look to play balls in between the lines into the likes of Hazard and Morata. The width provided by the wing-backs could also be a determining factor in the game as they are integral to the way the Blues operate.

Arsenal are blessed with quality all over the pitch but have seemed to lack conviction this term – particularly away from home. Arsene Wenger’s men have lost both of their Premier League games on their travels this term and have looked vulnerable defensively – something Chelsea will be looking to exploit. Alexis Sanchez’s return could give the Gunners a huge boost going into this one, though.

N’Golo Kante is integral to Chelsea’s 3-4-3 formation.

Match Prediction

Both teams have lofty ambitions this term and whilst Chelsea seem to look stronger every week, Arsenal’s problems seem to be mounting up and the Blues should have too much for the Gunners here.

Chelsea to win 2-0.